My photography assignment:
- In a recent controversy, several media outlets made public nude photos of England’s Prince Harry without his knowledge or agreement. Do you believe it is fair or reasonable that snapshot photos of famous or well-known people taken for personal reasons become open to public scrutiny?
Being famous has its perks, but it comes with disadvantages, like the loss of personal privacy. Whether you’re born into the public eye, like Prince Harry, or whether you work your way to the top, there is an fine line between what should and what should not be open to public scrutiny. In 2012, naked photos of Prince Harry in Vegas were leaked. The pictures, though, were not taken by a photographer/ photojournalist. Rather, they were taken by one of the few people that Prince Harry invited up into his Vegas suite. This situation poses an ethical debate regarding one’s rights and questions when the coverage/reporting of “news” becomes an invasion of privacy.
According to CNN, The Sun, a national newspaper in Great Britain, was the only newspaper to actually publish the pictures of Harry nude (2). They went internationally viral due to this. The managing editor of the Sun said, “This is about our readers getting involved in the discussion with the man who is third in line to the throne.” He adds that, “There is a clear public interest in publishing the Harry pictures, in order for the debated around them to be fully informed. Further, we believe Harry has compromised his own privacy….For us, this is about freedom of the press” (2) (3). Other outlets, like the Daily Mirror and the Independent, claim that they did not publish the photos because they considered it to breach the privacy of the prince (2). In turn, there are two sides to this situation:
- Publishing the image was part of public interest and free press.
- Others who think that there is no public interest in this matter, that the Sun published the photos for monetary benefit, self-regulation and censorship were neglected, Harry deserves personal privacy, and most importantly, that new rules governing the conduct of media should be established.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution promotes freedom of speech, expression, etc.. This amendment protects everyday persons, public figures like Harry, as well as the media. Moreover, the term “invasion of privacy” refers to a person’s right to keep their life private and free from the intrusion of others (4). This term is often associated with public figure’s right to be left alone by media (1). When discussing modern day invasion of privacy laws, the U.S Court have recognized four major branches of privacy law: Intrusion, private facts, false light, appropriation (4).
In light of this scandal, one could argue that publishing the nude photos violates law number two, “Private facts.” The law states, “One who gives publicity to a matter concerning the private life of another is subject to liability to the other for invasion of privacy, if the matter publicized is of kind that (a) would be highly offensive to a reasonable person; (b) is not legitimate concern to the public” (1). Before we get into that, let’s also note that “public figures, voluntarily expose themselves to scrutiny, waive much of their right to privacy” (1).
I do believe that the initial publications of Harry’s photos violate the invasion of privacy because it slanders his character. I believe that the publication should have received consent from Harry because it was an invasion of privacy taken from private property. I also find the initial publication of the photos to be utterly distasteful. But then again, that is my opinion, which I am sure I share with a majority. However, the media is simply doing its job. Whether the content is newsworthy or not, entertaining content regarding public figures, like Harry, obviously receives tons of attention from the public. I think the main issue is the term “privacy.” It has never been agreeably defined and there is no clear, custom law regarding privacy standards. As technology develops, the lack of privacy increases. There are thousands of mediums and thousands of opinions. The media regulates itself, therefore, decisions regarding publication is ultimately up to the editor. Some may agree, some may disagree, and that is where the debate lies because the term “privacy” is up for grabs, putting the public AND the media in an uncomfortable position.
My stance is that publishing photos like the ones of Harry is distasteful. However, it is the media being the media and they have a job to fulfill. Being in the spotlight requires one to adapt to the expectations and requirements of that role. Unfortunately, Harry did not appropriately live up to his expectations as a royal and as a solider.
(1) “A Primer On Invasion Of Privacy.” News Media & The Law 31.4(2007): 2-3. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 5 Feb. 2014.
(2) “Prince Harry Naked Vegas Photos Published by Sun.” BBC News. BBC, 24 Aug.2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2014.
(3) Staff, CNN Wire, and Jo Shelley. “UK Tabloid Prints Naked Prince Harry Pictures.”CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 05 Feb. 2014.
(4) “The Privacy Torts: How U.S. State Law Quietly Leads the Way in Privacy Protection.” The Privacy Torts: How U.S. State Law Quietly Leads the Way in Privacy Protection. N.p., July 2002. Web. 05 Feb. 2014.