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Issue 479, 18 March 2002

Privacy, ethics and the media

Racist reporting by tabloid newspapers hasn't helped the 'good name' of journalists, yet staff don't necessarily support their paper's stance. Recent research found that the backing of a collective forum can help journalists raise ethical concerns about their work.

Senior lecturer at Trinity and All Saints centre for journalism, Tony Harcup, looked at the role of the National Union of Journalists in taking up ethical issues about journalists' methods or output.

Tony Harcup said: "Union influence waned when the NUJ was 'derecognised' by employers in the 1980s and 1990s. With campaigns now to gain recognition, there have been more moves to challenge editorial control, through the collective forum which the union can provide."

Journalists and Ethics: the quest for a collective voice, by Tony Harcup, is published in the current issue of Journalism Studies (Routledge), Volume 3, No 1.

See a related article in the Press Gazette, and on the TASC website


Most people are in favour of limiting media intrusion into people's private lives, especially for children, according to recent research by Dr David Morrison and Michael Svennevig of the Institute of Communications Studies.

The researchers talked to media professionals, focus groups and over 1,000 individuals for their views on recent high-profile cases involving privacy and the media. Over 90% believed children have a virtually inviolable right to privacy: no matter what someone has done, or who they are, the media should not impinge on the lives of their children.

However, just over half thought that the media could ignore people's privacy to report on important issues in the 'public interest', though neither media professionals nor the general public could provide a clear definition of what that phrase meant.

The research was commissioned by the BBC, the IPPR and a number of media watchdogs.

See the full press release with link to download the report.


 
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