My digital allotment

Privacy Rights vs. Public Right to Know


Privacy concerns involve conflicts between a person’s individual interests and wider interests of society and the public’s right to know what government and other institutions do. Assume that you’ve learned that two married high-level government officials with young children are having a sexual affair. Write 200 words about how you would decide whether to report that news.

You should balance factors in deciding whether exposure of possible misconduct or impropriety is more important or less important than the public’s interest in knowing what their public officials are doing.



It is difficult to decide in such situations whether or not to publish this news as it is clearly of public interest and newsworthy. However, I do believe it is important to consider all of the factors involved before rushing to publish such a story.

In support of running this story, both of the people involved in the affair are high-level government officials and therefore the nature of the work they do means that they should expect that their behaviour and conduct, both professionally and personally, to be examined by the public. They have both clearly decided to engage in an affair which is in effect moral wrong-doing in the eyes of the public, so should therefore, because of the public positions they hold, expect that this type of news would leak to the public eventually. It would also be a consideration of mine, that if I was not the journalist to publish this first, then another Journalist likely would go ahead with such a report in the near future anyway.

My main argument against running with this story is that they both have families with young children and so considering the story would affect their families and likely cause a severely negative impact on their families lives, I would be reluctant to publish this story. Also, without any further details, it is difficult to see what real benefit it would bring to the public in exposing this affair.

I believe that I personally would not choose to publish this story as the negative impact on the lives of the children and families would be much greater than any benefit to the the public. However, should there be further information such as one of the officials strongly supporting or campaigning for laws connected to divorce or marital rights, then this would likely give more weight to the public interest and I would be more likely to publish this story, knowing that there would be a greater public benefit.


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This entry was posted on January 8, 2017 by in Journalism Course.
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