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Regulators and the courts are increasing privacy constraints upon the news media. Journalists and editors are being called to account for their decisions which intrude into the private lives of citizens under the pretext of being in the so-called “public interest”. Judges and self-regulatory bodies are demanding news organizations explain their internal processes for decisions which have legal and ethical consequences. This paper tracks the developments in privacy law and ethical regulation and suggests a schema journalists might use when weighing up the privacy elements of a news item. As one stage in a larger study of privacy, it focuses primarily upon the codes of practice of six main media self-regulation bodies and identifies the key elements in the privacy-journalism domain. It then draws upon them to propose a decision-making tool for newsroom use, labeled the “Privacy Mandala”. Finally, it suggests a filter by which editors and news directors can view the commercial criteria they will inevitably be motivated to consider as part of the process.
This document has been peer reviewed.