Free 1750 words essay on Media and Communication for school and college students.
This paper highlights on the journalism-privacy crisis that have been known to rock the society on a daily basis. The media has been known to treat the public to a never ending drama of exposing the personal lives of public figures. This research was therefore, necessitated to establish these issues rising from the conflict between the rights and roles of journalists and the individual rights of citizens. Upon the research, it was found that there are evident cases of journalism violating the privacy of individuals which led to court cases and identity misappropriation especially among public figures. However, it was also found that in some cases, the media was entitled to expose some information that the owners may deem private so as to ensure good cause and justice. The role of journalism in the society is a vital one for it keeps individuals on toes and exposes injustices within the society that would have otherwise been covered up by the perpetrators. However, the research revealed that journalism versus privacy is a thorny issue that requires caution approaching it.
Journalism and privacy are two aspects of communication that more than often have clashed in a battle that seems to have no end. The work of journalists is to inform the public in a truthful manner and to report on facts that concern the public. On the other hand, the public or a certain individual is entitled to a right to privacy which preserves human dignity. The two seem virtually incompatible since a journalist may find it important to report on something that someone else does not want known but in the process the journalist may touch on something else private to the person . There has been uproar in the public on the issue of the press violating people’s privacy. The public insists that without consent, their lives should not be publicized in any way under any circumstances.
Privacy is important to any one individual as it upholds one’s sense of belonging and something to call their own. However, journalism is also a very essential factor in the society for as the journalists say, it is their work to inform on the public. Chadwick continues to say that cases have emerged that seem to indicate that some practicing journalism only do it for the pay. We have witnessed cases of mud-slinging and personality assassination all in the name of journalism. A question always looms on whether privacy and journalism are compatible elements and what lines are supposed to be crossed and which ones should be forbidden. The two aspects exist in then same society and regardless of their differences they are required to interrelate so as to have a stable and trusting society. This paper seeks to discuss on the relationship of journalism and the privacy of individuals whether in public limelight or not.
In 2008, Barrack Obama the now president of the United States, was campaigning for the year’s presidential elections. In the same year, as campaigns advanced, the media exploded with news and allegations of the presidential hopeful being a Muslim owing this to his one time name, ‘Hussein’. The media published and highlighted the story as if it were a matter of public concern that needed investigation. Journalists were entitled to inform the public over the people they were going to elect as their leaders and were justified to highlight on such matters. However, many people especially supporters of Obama found it a rude intrusion to the private life of the candidate since his candidature had nothing to do with his name or religion. It was certainly not in the public interest to know what religion Obama was or had been in the past. People found that regardless of what religion Obama belonged to, his supporters would still have voted for him. Many described it as an attempt by his rivals using the press to assassinate his personality in order to discredit him as a United States leader.
Another case that rose concern on the invasion of privacy by journalists is that of Argentina President, Carlos Menem . The press had published a story with photo ‘evidence’ alleging that the incumbent president had an illegitimate son who was of teenage age. The mother was allegedly was in the area’s provincial assembly as an elected deputy. The press indicated that the woman had been President Menem’s mistress in the past. The magazine gave the reason for publishing the story based on the allegations that the mother had been receiving death threats. The president sued the magazine on the basis that the reporters of the story had invaded his privacy a case that saw the magazine get fined 150,000 dollars.
In 2001, Peru was having a presidential election for which Alejandro Toledo the eventual president was campaigning. The press publicized a story that the would-be president had sired an illegitimate daughter of whom the former had distanced. Journalists even sought out the mother of the alleged illegitimate daughter for an interview who apparently confirmed the allegations adding that Toledo had abandoned them and refused to undergo a paternity test. The editor of El Tiempo a newspaper in Peru, Rosa Laban, said that she had been torn between the part of Toledo being a public figure thus making his activities the public’s interest and the part that his personal life was his private business. She said that she feared that such a story had already been shifting attention from issues vital to the country to the personal life of Toledo. Laban finally published the story citing that even though she had respect for people’s private lives, she believed that the people needed to know the issues concerning their would-be leaders.
The research method used in the creation of this report was the analysis of various online articles and real case studies so as to gather enough information on the relationship between journalism and privacy. By analyzing these cases, the objective was to get facts regarding the issue of journalists and individual private lives. Several articles and case studies were chosen so as to analyze their content in relevance to the topic.
Upon completion of the research, it was found that the crisis between the two aspects in question was real as well as a thorny issue. Journalists seem to treat the lives of public figures with the justification that the latter’s activities were of public interest due to their status in society. In regard to privacy, the courts declared that someone’s right to privacy should be enhanced and maintained at all times since that person’s private life is their own and the public have no right in knowing it. In the case of the president’s we found that in both cases the issue of money was involved as well as that of campaigns. Journalists on the other hand seem to direct that if a person was a public figure or aspiring to be one then their lives became public. In some cases it seemed that most of the individuals whose personal lives were invaded were those with political affiliations whose public image mattered a lot.
In the light of the findings of the research, a lot of concerns arose related to public figures, their privacy and journalists. The private life of any single person regardless of their status in the society should not be publicized in any way . Journalists may argue that this is tantamount to keeping secrets, but they should not in the first place investigate into anyone’s private life. It is rather saddening that the media is used to publicly communicate identity assassination yet journalism has a code of ethics.
The case of Barrack Obama, Hussein or not, Muslim or otherwise, shows that the media may have crossed the line over publishing religious allegations of the presidential hopeful. Obama was aspiring to become a public figure and it was essential that American citizens got to know the man they were to elect. However, his religious affiliations or what his name meant did not have anything to do with his leadership skills and therefore did not need to be publicized. It would have been better had the media ignored such allegations and not seem to be trying to discredit the candidate from contesting in the elections. It seemed as if Obama’s rivals were using the press to attack him by trying to injure his public image. Whether the allegations were true or not, such information should not have been made into a public discussion fueled by the media.
In the case of the Argentine president, whether he had an illegitimate son or not did not mean that the public had a right to know about it. It had been a personal matter of which President Menem would have been left to handle just like any other citizen in the country. Millions of people have family issues and it is never the responsibility of someone else to straighten those issues, but the family members themselves. These views however, do not mean that journalists should be restrained from the right to freedom of speech, but should exercise this with temperance. It was not a surprising matter that the president sued the magazine and won. The court clearly states that there are four ways through which one can violate someone else’s right to privacy: intruding to someone’s seclusion; the disclosing of someone’s facts that are embarrassing, irrelevant and private; to place an individual in false light or to damage someone’s image or name for own personal purposes. In both cases of President Menem and President Toledo, the media made public their personal lives and revealed irrelevant embarrassing information.
It would be highly important that the media exercised their right to freedom of media and speech in a cautious manner so that in the process they do not interfere with individual right to privacy. Public figures are however advised to uphold moral values and ethics to avoid unwarranted attention to their private lives. Journalism and the people’s privacy are compatible but only to some extent and this relationship should be handled with caution.