Why is privacy probably one of the most difficult ethical area for journalists to define?

Essay by fayc84University, Bachelor'sC+, March 2004

download word file, 10 pages 4.0

Downloaded 137 times

Why is privacy probably the most important and difficult ethical area for journalists to define?

Ethical principals are hard to define because moral judgements are essentially the decision of each individual. Broadly defined ethical codes may be useful to some journalists but responsibility falls on personal conscience.

Also, Frost tells us:

"There are too many variables around the circumstances of each invasion of privacy to allow for hard-and-fast rules."

There is little dispute that the ethical issue of privacy is at the forefront of media debate in Britain.

"It [privacy] is certainly the issue that has underlined all the major debates on the press in the last ten years or so."

Firstly, let me look at what privacy actually means. It is accepted that privacy is a definitive right, but unfortunately, the concept of a 'right' is a not a simple one and is not an absolute standard. Also, it is easy ignore the separation between legal rights and natural or moral rights.

Reiss offers a simple explanation of what privacy is:

"Every human being and organisation requires a workable level of privacy, defined as 'those places, spaces and matters upon or into which others may not normally intrude without the consent of the person or organisation to whom they are designated to belong.'"

Much of the privacy debate surrounds statements in the European Convention on Human Rights which, in itself, has contrasting arguments in Article 8 - the right to privacy - and Article 10 - the right to free speech. These sections are often seen as contradicting one another and this has sparked disputes over which is of paramount importance.

Article 8 of the Convention states:

"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence."

It goes on to say...