Ethical Codes in media

Ethical Codes to go by when writing a story involving others

Guidelines for keeping others' privacy

What is this important ethic?

Let's say you are interviewing your subject, and their child has been kidnapped, this is a newsworthy event so you rush to interview them. This is an ethic that requires great balancing, should you go ahead and ask them in-depth questions that may offend but get the juicy details, or do you keep away from asking to many questions? This isn't an ethic that applies to just interviewing everyday people, but for celebrities as well. Publishing and airing stories of bad decisions that celebrities have made can tarnish their popularity and image. Do you expose the celebrity and get credit for a news breaking story, or do you keep it out of the public knowledge? Though many journalists do not follow this guideline well, it is important to keep privacy in mind when you are reporting or writing.

Why is this ethic important?

This ethic is important because it can help set a line between what the public needs to know and what they want to know. For example, a famous actress goes out to eat when she encounters a rude man yelling at her and she gets in a loud fight in a man. Though this story might be interesting to the public, is this something that they need to know? Can this information tarnish the actress's image? Now, let's say a reporter interviews a man who barely survived the West, Texas tornado. This story is informative about the devastating news that the people are entitled to know about and is quite interesting to read about. This is a good way to sell a story, it's interesting and informative. It is important to not offend the person you are interviewing, because that can make the reporter look bad. Keeping a fair space away from questions that may offend the interviewee is a good way to sell the story without offending anybody.

As humans, we all can make space for improvement, but how can one do that when everyone is constantly observing them and reporting on their every embarrassing or personal move. Most things reported on celebrities can be hurtful and embarrassing to them and can often make them feel as if they have no privacy. It is important to know that celebrities deserve privacy just as those involved in a devastating events like destructive hurricanes or school shootings.

Ask Yourself

  • Is this an important and justifiable matter or dilema or is it just another matter of something people want to know?
  • Does this person deserve protection? (Are they a victim or perpetrator?)
  • What questions would they feel uncomfortable answering
  • What is the fine line for asking questions?
  • How can I better understand the subject's personal suffering? How can I better understand this person's desire for privacy?
  • What alternative approaches can I start with, while still getting the story?

Who does this effect and how? How does this affect the media?

This ethic

  • Keeps subjects of devastating events from feeling uncomfortable or bad when getting interviewed.
  • This ethic can also help protect celebrities' image and can keep some of their personal facotrs unpublished


This ethic doesn't affect media that much, as I said, the media doesn't do that well of a job at following this ethic. But when the media does use a guideline, this ethic keeps personal information off the public and can help people from extreme embassment or sorrow.

Guidelines for Hidden Cameras

Hidding Cameras

Hiding cameras shouldn't be used often as it could be invasive on others' privacy, but if this is the only way to capture your story, then this is an option. Although this is a grey area in journalism, hiding cameras can be good for the community and can help.

Real Life Situations

You might be wondering if this is ok in certain situations. A recent case in point is that of the Pakistan International Airlines Spokesperson and Public Affairs General Manager Syed Sultan Hasan, who filed a lawsuit against Dawn TV for allegedly making an ‘illegal’ video of him without his permission. He is seeking Rs1 billion in damages from the network.

This is an example where someone might get angry for being on camera, so it is important to be careful when hidding cameras.

Is it right?

Generally speaking, this is legal in the U.S. when recording for surveilence, but sometimes recorded video in public can get one in a lawsuit or in large trouble.