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Libel and Invasion of Privacy

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Libel and Invasion of Privacy

Libel and invasion of privacy are two very important issues dealing with broadcast media. The two are very similar but different from each. Libel deals more with what was actually printed or broadcast, where as invasion of privacy deals with how the information was actually gathered. Both have laws to regulate and influence what kind of information is gathered and, how it is actually obtained.

Libel simply is "defamation of character by published word", the publishing of falsities to hurt a person's reputation or standing. However, now it is not limited to only printed word as in newspapers or magazines. Slander, which is defined as "defamation of character by spoken word" is now portrayed as a form of libel because of the abundance and power the broadcast spoken word can have as in radio and television. However, libel has a much stronger penalty than that of slander because print is seen to have a much more long lasting effect, and once something is on paper you cant take it back. On the other hand, with tape recordings and the fact that any spoken defamation can de saved and distributed, radio and TV most times fall in the libel category.

Invasion of privacy in fact does have strong ties with that of libel. Though it does hurt a person or organization's character, it deals more with how the information is obtained. Simply stated privacy laws deal with "a person's right to be left alone". There are more specifically four types of violation of someone's privacy. The first one is called intrusion, which is the actual physical violation of someone's privacy, as in trespassing to obtain information. The second is appropriation, which is commercial exploitation of a person's image or likeness with out consent. Thirdly is "false light", portrays someone in false light or gives false pretences. Lastly is information on private facts, that are actually true but private, and that will severely embarrass or hurt someone's reputation.

Through these definitions and specifics on each, it is easy to see how both intertwine and are closely related. Now what we know what each is it is time to examine which of the two is a more serious concern. Personally, in understanding the two, I would have to say that libel is a more serious issue with broadcast media. To be more specific, the worst possible thing a journalist or...

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...ore long-term effect on both the media and the person who the false information was about.

I wanted to save an example for the end, and the best one I can think of is this. Most true information about someone, someone else knows about, and therefore other people will soon learn. I pose this question. What would be worse? Digging up information and finding that the new mailman is really a rapist that the police have direct records of, or falsely accusing the new mailman of being a racist when in fact he is nothing of the kind? It's easy for me to say it is much worse to falsely publicize the news of the man than it is to give true information about him, even though you may have obtained in an unethical manor. Giving the truth is the most important aspect of the media and if we as a society cant believe what they say, why should we listen. I believe the media runs the world and people are going to believe what the media tells us. There is no way around it. In this overwhelming case, it is of utmost importance that it gives us the truth.

Did someone say Vice President Al Gore won Florida? How about NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX, and any body else. Now look what's happening.
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