Medias Right to Know vs Peoples Privacy

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Jessica Zura
Prof. Pollock
SOCY 3104-001
Paper 2

The relationship between a person's right to privacy and the public's right to know about that person's life.

The first duty of a journalist is to let people know what is going on in the world around them, so that they can make their own decisions about what to think, do or say. Problems arise where the right of society to be informed conflicts with the right of individuals to privacy. This is an area where sensitivity is important and where your concern for the individual must be balanced with your responsibility to society as a whole. On issues of privacy and public interest, there is often no clear-cut distinction between right and wrong. We can give some general guidance and suggest a few rules, but you will have to decide what to do case-by-case. Whenever you cover a story where there is a chance of conflict between the public's right to know and the individual's right to privacy, the first thing you should do is ask yourself two questions: * Will I intrude on a person's private life by the way I collect the news? For example, should you go up to grieving parents and try to interview them about their murdered son? Should you approach a politician at a social event and ask him questions about his work? * Will I intrude on people's private life by publishing or broadcasting the story? For example, should you publish a story about a local sporting star leaving his spouse and children for another woman or man? It is often possible to justify publishing something about a person's private life in the public interest, even though you cannot justify upsetting them in the way you gather the news. An example of this is when covering a tragedy. You may be able to justify telling your readers or listeners about the murder of a child, even though the publicity will cause the parents further grief. But you might not be able to justify going up to the parents and asking questions while they are shocked and...
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