News Of The World: Pretentious Mourning Aside, Its Time To Regulate

Posted on August 9, 2011 in Media

By Tushar Malica:

We live in a multi-lingual and diverse world. As a result, we have the media as a means for sharing information in many different languages. We have newspapers, radio, television news, then of course, there is the internet- all in various different regional as well as territorial languages. Thus, it is not surprising that media personnel are under tremendous pressure in this neck-to-neck competition to outdo the other. Need for attention is the basic human instinct. An innocent baby too cries for attention.

Image: Wolfram Steinberg/DPA/

In a race to be recognized and excel, journalists need just more than what is obvious to public. Consequently, they have an insatiable appetite for the deep dark secrets of eminent people which are either “in public interest” or “of public interest”. Therefore, out of the desperation to publish something meaty and unusual, some out of the line measures may be adopted. Such ways to obtain private information may come into the grey area of moral and ethics. This is where personal discretion, ethics and morality come into question. How much is too much? Where should one draw the line?

After the recent outbreak of the ‘News of the World’ (NOTW) scandal, media ethics is being questioned again. If truth be told, this is a never ending battle. There will always be journalists who will cross the line. There will always be people who, for having their fifteen minutes of fame will not ponder before maligning somebody else. So, there is and always will be a paparazzo in every one of them. Media has always been blamed by celebrities of being interested in their lives a little too much. Invasion of privacy is not new- even the victims have learnt that it’s not their choice, they will have to deal with it whether they like it or not. That’s the price they pay for fame they sought after. If you are famous, every minute detail of yours will be either on newspaper, television, some social networking site or YouTube. There is no escaping it. Some may say that all this is under public interest, in their defense. Well, people do show keen interest in others lives but did the public force you to break the law and intrude into someone’s life?

We all learn from our past for a better future. This can be applied here too. There are two possibilities here. The first way is that we mope around a bit. Discuss it at length with our colleagues till the point the topic loses it essence and get over with it till another NOTW happens. Maybe, blame the concerned people and the government and let out our frustration. Moreover, the same media can cash on it till people are fed up with it. The second way is that we try to reinforce propriety among media. Use this incident to send a message across the world that this has to stop. This can be done by strict government policies to start with including a stringent privacy law and heavy punishment if encroached upon. As much as we like the sound of the second possibility it is mostly unlikely to occur. The advancement of technology unfortunately is on the evil side. Our dependence on computers and digital data alone makes each one of us vulnerable. Hacking into a site to draw out data, phone tapping, hidden cameras — there are too many ways to bring the “truth” out. To what extent can we go on checking? People need to define their boundaries themselves. The recent revelations are just the tip of the iceberg. It was NOTW’s bad fate that they got caught. Others are still out there, hungry and hunting.

It is a vicious circle. Famous personalities will be more cautious, that will in turn, make these intruders adopt more aggressive and sophisticated techniques. The world is ruthless as ever with nobody to trust on. You may confide in someone and the next day it ends up as headline. You check into a hotel room when on a vacation and the next morning the whole world knows that you still sleep with teddy bear-thanks to the camera on your bed post. It’s an epidemic. Besides, we, the people are constantly feeding on it and surprisingly enjoying it. It’s a bit hypocritical of us to mourn the present case, when we don’t mind going over a magazine alive with such spice.

To sum it up- it’s all part and parcel of life. There will always be a loophole or a back entry even if we have the most hard-hitting laws regarding privacy. The key here is to be cautious. Because, money and gossips makes the world go round.