Does the press have the right to meddle in people’s private lives?

Whatever happened to press freedom! I am almost certain that by choosing this side of the coin, some readers are only hoping that I eat my words one day, because surely, not a single soul wants to ever read a negative story about their escapades in the newspaper. Especially when they least expect it.

Whatever happened to press freedom!

I am almost certain that by choosing this side of the coin, some readers are only hoping that I eat my words one day, because surely, not a single soul wants to ever read a negative story about their escapades in the newspaper. Especially when they least expect it.

Parents have collapsed after seeing their children in the papers dancing the night away instead of being at school; employees have been fired from their work after being quoted in papers saying something they least expected would leak, divorce cases have been filed and so on and so forth, just because of a story that ran in a paper.

This is the power of the press that nobody should ever underestimate; no wonder it’s termed as “the fourth estate”- with it, the government can know how to act, with it, the government can know things it would never have discovered and most importantly, with the press, the government can always remain in check, well knowing that its activities, if not in the interest of the people, will only remain secret for a little while, only waiting to be discovered by a prying eye of a camera or a pen and book.

But it’s not just the government that has to be on its toes. It is also the media’s role to maintain morality in society. When people know that, in their society lies a well functioning media body, they will desist from doing outrageous things in public. Therefore, the people will be spared blushes for not witnessing acts like French-kissing at the bus park.

Sometimes when I introduce myself as a journalist, people go blank! Some go cold on me; some put on wry smiles, while the others who are not good pretenders will slowly move away and look for better company.

For this reason, I desist from anything journalistic whenever I’m off duty; but let’s face it, why are people so afraid of journalists? I mean, if you have nothing to hide, you should be proud of having me for company, right?

Besides, most of the time, people have interesting and positive stories to tell and would love to see them run in the papers or being talked about on the radio.

Regardless of what people believe, press freedom is tantamount to a country’s development, and if there is a story about a personality who is deemed too important for a paper or radio, it should run, regardless of the feelings of that individual.

A newspaper does not make money from keeping quiet about a story; that is why the best journalists you will ever find are the investigative journalists.

These investigate journalists will go to great lengths to get just one feature story about an issue, be it about a group of people, company or an individual, even if it takes months or years.

Therefore, if one wants their life never to be depicted in the news, they should keep their tracks clean. Otherwise, journalists are only doing their job.

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Invasion of privacy is savage behaviour

The extent some members of the press reach just to get a story never ceases to shock me. In most cases, these stories are not even news worthy – downright insolent if you ask me. For instance, how is it anyone’s business if a man and woman were caught doing the naughty in a lodge somewhere?

We are not in Saudi Arabia or Somalia where fornication or infidelity would surely secure you a meeting with a violent death. Not that it’s okay for people to go around fornicating and the like; I just don’t understand how it is anyone else’s business but theirs. What is judgment day there for?

Unless I am breaking the law, what I do in my own time is really my business. Why should anyone’s privacy be compromised just because people live for a juicy story? And it shouldn’t matter if one is ordinary or famous. Everyone has the right to privacy.

In the case of famous people, sure they make for an intriguing story but not at the expense of living in liberty. Some people are obsessed with celebrities and anyone in the public’s grip. They have a voracious desire for information regardless of whether we must know about it or not.

I never knew leaving the house to go grocery shopping could be so scary. I mean every time a famous person does that, she’s on the cover of every tabloid with some headline like, What was she thinking? She was thinking she needed tomatoes and some pasta and it didn’t occur to her that she had to look like she was stepping onto the red carpet for that!

An infamous Ugandan tabloid went as far as writing about how much time some people spend in public bathrooms. Apparently one celebrity went to use the bathroom at one of those crème de la crème parties and took forever to exit. Predictably they insisted the person’s stomach hadn’t agreed with the Mongolian buffet and was busy in one of the toilets for over an hour.

Surely how was that newsworthy? It was uncouth and insolent with a total lack of ethics. We should be interested in their talent or the things they do in their field of work. If they break the law then by all means, the issue must be reported.  There is simply no justification when it comes to encroaching on people’s private lives.

We are all just trying to make a living and if I turned out to be the next global sensation, it does not give anyone the right to crawl around in my back yard wondering how much time I spend in my own bathroom!

I understand that if a politician is becoming very rich, the media should investigate where the money is coming from. If a businessman is committing a crime, the public should know – lest people are investing in counterfeit material or being cheated in anyway.

But that’s as far as it should get. Like I said, a broken law should be the only reason for intervention. We should treat people the way we want to be treated and treat trashy media with the scorn it deserves.


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