I was listening to Desert Island Discs the other day when the historian and writer Paul Johnson raised an interesting point. He was talking about a newspaper article which exposed his alleged adultery, Kirsty Young asked him on his opinion between “pruriency and exposing things of importance”. His reply was that you need to differentiate between those who run for public office and those who do not.
It raises an interesting question of newspaper ethics (particularly relevant at the moment), when is it right to share scandalous news and when is it not? As an audience we love to read the juicy details about the selected few but it is important to define who that chosen few should be.
It could be argued that the lives of politicians should be in the public domain. We choose them to represent us, and therefore we need to know that they live lives of which we approve. Having said this even politicians are entitled to their private lives, so where do we draw the line at what we should know and what we should not?
Another area of media interest is the lives of celebrities. Only this week you may have seen the certain story of a singer who has unfollowed her soon to be ex-husband on Twitter. The story seems rather unsavoury and we could ask is it right to publish this information. All the stories sharing this news have then followed with promotion of her recent work. Could it be that this story was shared for her to take advantage of the situation? Or is it indeed an unsavoury sharing of a heartbroken women’s actions?
Celebrities rely on fame to make a living, and many people have shared their lives in order to make a profit. Have they then sold their right to a private life?
The publicity from the media can be a blessing as well as a curse, so perhaps it is a question without a right answer and just a matter of opinion.
- ‘Fake Sheik’ appears at UK phone hacking inquiry (seattlepi.com)
- Do you remember when celebrities liked us? (guardian.co.uk)
- Cambridge Letter : The write to be (thehindu.com)
- Poor Pippa Middleton. She’s the object of our fantasies and then we go and punish her. But such is our cult of celebrity | Suzanne Moore (guardian.co.uk)
- Why newspaper websites should be more like blogs (thenextweb.com)