Tuesday, 8 May 2012

How to balance Press Freedom with Personal Privacy

  1. Editors - ultimately responsible for their publication together with the owners of publications - will have to ask how information was obtained by a journalist.   
  2. Editors will have to decide if the information was illegally obtained.
  3. Editors will have to decide whether publication of the story is in the Public Interest.
  4. A working definition of the Public Interest is arrived at.
  5. Anything published held not to be in the Public Interest as a result of information illegally obtained eg phone hacking will be a criminal offence.  
  6. Editor, journalist and owner will be held criminally responsible.  
The Public Interest is not whatever the public is interested in and will sell papers.  I would suggest that the public interest is "any information of a nature the publication of which will affect government policy and by extension the long term National Interest".

Clearly, the private lives of celebrities (however scandalous) are not likely to affect government policy and will have no ramifications as regards the National Interest.

Stories about celebrities will probably be put online and this the media can report on, but at one remove.

I trust this is a sensible compromise.   

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