SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION
A TERM PAPER SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE COURSE:
ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL PRACTISE (MAC 854)
LECTURER: DR. JIMI KAYODE
TITLE: MEDIA AND THE INVASION OF PRIVACY
AKANDE ADEFEYISAYO ADEBOLARINWA
• SUBMITTED ON 30th JANUARY, 2010
Media practitioners possess the function of gathering, processing and disseminating news item to a heterogeneous large audience which often times not done with sound moral judgement in mind lands them into pool of troubled waters. Celebrities, politicians and other sought-after sources of news have over time expressed justifiable anguish over the diminishing aspects of their lives that are no longer free from prying eyes and publication from the press. They routinely assert that members of the media violates their privacy based strictly on their need to publish any news story that comes their way for the main purpose of profit and simply can not distinguish what type of information is private, public or newsworthy. Journalists, however, often possess diverse concepts of privacy and newsworthiness, and know that the issue is more complicated based on the fact that reporting news stories in a way that serves and informs the public will often require publicizing details or displaying images that will mortify or anger someone. To make privacy issues even more complicated for journalists, courts constantly redefine what is private based upon interpretations of the elusive legal standard of a "reasonable expectation of privacy.( www.winning-newsmedia.com/privacy) “The U.S. Supreme Courts scolding of the media in the 1999 "ride along" cases for a perceived inattention to the privacy rights of the people featured in the news most likely reflects the current attitude of many judges and lawmakers and, thus, underscores the importance for journalists to be aware of general privacy principles.” (www.associatedcontent.com/topic) The intrusion and publication of private images can expose journalists to overwhelming financial liability if a court determines that a news organization has invaded a person’s privacy. The invasion of another’s privacy is a tort, meaning a civil wrong against another that results in injury. A privacy tort occurs when a person or entity breaches the duty to leave another person alone. When reporters intrude on a person’s privacy and cause emotional or monetary injury, they may be forced to pay damages. To avoid lawsuits, journalists must know how the law operates while seeking to balance the competing interests of the press and the public against the privacy interests of the subjects of the reports. Journalists often run contrary of this tort through the process of gathering information. Actions that may violate this privacy right include intrusion onto private property, concealed observation and the deceptive access into private areas. Conduct that invades privacy may also violate the criminal law. In general, courts have held that journalists must obey all relevant laws. In Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U.S. 469 (1975) “the U.S. Supreme Court noted that in privacy tort, claims of privacy most directly confront the constitutional freedoms of speech and press”. (www.definitions.uslegal.com) This study provides a universal explanation of each privacy tort and related causes of action. The privacy facts tort presents the unsettling circumstances in which journalists may be liable for monetary damages for coverage of news item. In several cases the Supreme Court has held that "where a newspaper publishes truthful information which it has lawfully obtained, punishment may lawfully be imposed, if at all, only when narrowly tailored to a state interest of the highest order." Florida Star v. B.J.F., 491 U.S. 524, 541 (1989). Although the Supreme Court has prevented states from punishing journalists who published...