We may well have a right to free speech and freedom of the press but even the media and press need to act within the moral code of ethics.
IF you have been paying attention to the press and various other new outlets over the past few weeks or so you will no doubt be aware that the British tabloids dug up private information on both Ben Stokes and Gareth Thomas. Yet all this asks the question in regards to free speech and freedom of press where moral behaviour of the media and press are concerned.
Just the other week British cricketer, Ben Stokes, appeared in the news when it was revealed that the tabloids had dug up private information on a personal family tragedy that had happened some thirty odd years earlier. A tabloid pap had contacting Gareth Thomas’s parents asking what they knew of his HIV status.
As a human being I find this type of behaviour absolutely disgusting cos at the end of the day this was the private lives of human beings that was being exploited. Now I admit that If you ever follow my social media feeds, read my blog I have also produced articles, have even written columns on various issues. Even with what I am writing about right now. Yes, I am also a journo and columnist but even I know that at the end of the day that there is a Code of Ethics that should always be followed. This is something I always follow. And thankfully I can say, hand on heart, that I will continue to do so.
However, going back to ethnical practice where the media and press are concerned. Yes, we should have a right to freedom of speech and freedom of press but does that mean that the tabloids should be able to sell a story when the contents were obtained unethically?
Just for a moment, cast your mind back to when the paparazzi managed to get photos of Kate Middleton topless. There was this constant debate of why the photographers should or shouldn’t be held to account over their behaviour. Yet this is where argument of ethics comes into it as she was in a privately-owned residence and the paparazzi had no right being their and how they were invading her privacy.
If this being the case them why do the photographers and tabloids always seem to think that it’s acceptable to appear where they’re not wanted? Why do journalists think that digging up things on people’s private lives is a good story? I mean why, what are they hoping to achieve? Why do tabloid journalists think that it is acceptable to run smear campaigns? Since when was it acceptable for them to start hounding your nearest and dearest hunting for gossip? I mean, do they not realise that emotional and psychological upset and trauma that it causes or do they just sit there and think ‘right, here’s a good story, let’s see how that flies in tomorrow’s edition’?
Let’s think back to the Levison enquiry shall we, the one which led to the closure of well-known tabloid paper, News of the World. When it emerged that some of its journalists had illegally hacked into voice-mails and emails of celebrities it led to a huge backlash. One such case that got dragged into this was the one involving the late Milly Dowler. Journalists had left voicemail messages on her phone, some of this and a couple of other factors gave her family the false hope that their daughter was still alive.
Going back to the story that involved Ben Stokes. The tabloid press of that publication managed to cause such an outcry and raging backlash it led to a campaign on social media calling for people to stop buying the publication. And indeed, who could actually blame them. I mean at the end of the day to run a story based on someone’s personal tragedy and not have the decency to apologise is one thing, but to carry on like no-one was upset is quite another.
Now I am all for freedom of the press and having free-speech to back it up but at the end of the day both the British press and media have a moral duty to behave in an acceptable way. And I am not saying this lightly.
Just because it’s free speech, doesn’t mean we can evade responsibility