Privacy vs Freedom of Press
Week of 3rd May 2020
A recent court case dearly lacked much global coverage in the midst of a pandemic, and this is perhaps good news for the plaintiffs who have been suing for the sake of privacy (among other things). The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in the eyes of British tabloid for years but it is now up to the legal system to decide whether a line has been crossed. Privacy vs Freedom of Press.
For most press, the opinion is negative against the lawsuit because journalists feel they will lose the freedom of speech, without consideration of value of published information. But one country’s journalism industry stood out to support the case of privacy, Canada’s.
Opinions supporting the case of privacy:
Micha Frazer-Carroll’s “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have given the British press the dressing down it so badly needed”
Christopher Wahl’s “Meghan and Harry in Canada: why I won’t photograph this royal ‘visit’”
Opinions against the case:
From the web:
From our Chief Opinionator:
The thick line between privacy and freedom of press
I am tired of unprofessional journalists calling gossips “news”. Worse, I feel sick to see irresponsible journalists wreaking havoc in lives by hiding behind the firewall of “freedom of press”.
Prince Harry and Megan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are now going through the brave legal battle against a British media outlet over the “misuse of private information, … and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018”.
While I am no lawyer, but Associated Newspaper’s argument of “the Duchess of Sussex had no reasonable expectation of privacy and anticipated publication of the letter” is clearly inaccurate, given the Duchess is suing them because of just that. Meghan Markle had all the expectation of privacy about the letter to her father.
Freedom of press is important, when it comes to serving positively to the public’s interest, such as releasing a piece of evidence in a criminal case (assuming the publication itself does not compromise the legal proceedings), or investigative journalism that unveils corruption in government official. However, freedom of press is disgusting when it comes to satisfying the public’s insatiable curiosity to make money. When a paparazzi indirectly causes a car to crash that kills its occupants, knowing with reasonable expectation the stubborn tailgating will lead to a high speed chase, this is no longer about freedom of press, but, in my opinion, a matter of murder or homicide.
This lawsuit that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have brought on is more than just privacy, but an attempt to deter a potential tragic re-occurrence of an "accidental death".
A CEO of a newspaper once said that the unfortunate truth of journalism is that bad news sells. Readership is a matter of demand and supply. The higher the number of clicks a gossip article gets, the more of these gossip articles the news outlet will write and publish. So perhaps aside from legally respecting privacy of celebrities and royal families, it is also important for cultures to not indulge in information that brings no value to one’s life other than promoting meaningless curiosity.
Read to learn, don’t read to gossip.