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What responsibility does the press have in keeping the public informed while at the same time, respecting the privacy and sensibility of individuals?
The press has the power to influence virtually all areas of our lives.Words and images are combined to produce various messages and meanings.All that is presented to us undoubtedly has an effect; whether it be positive, negative or neutral.In some countries the press is seen as an instrument for exposing the truth, and in others it is seen as an obstacle to the truth and a mechanism for propaganda.
The Press Council is an industry-funded body designed to ensure journalistic standards and to deal with complaints concerning the press.The body does not have any power to enforce punishment on those who do not comply with the set standards.The Council relies on voluntary adherence to the standards and the admission of mistakes publicly.
It is virtually impossible for the press, in all situations to follow all principles set out by the Press Council.Press Council Principle No. 3 states that “readers of publications are entitled to have news and comments presented to them honestly and fairly and with the respect for the privacy and sensibility of individuals”.It further states that “the right to privacy should not prevent publication of matters of public record or obvious of significant public interest.Rumour and unconfirmed reports if published should be identified as such”.In theory, Press Council Principle No. 3 has good intentions, but can it really be taken into account in all situations?Definitely not.The balance between the public’s ‘right to know’ and the right of an individual’s privacy is extremely delicate.
Hurst and White (1994) state that “to a member of the public, intrusion into privacy can be seen as unethical conduct, irrespective of the status of the person whose privacy has been violated.To a journalist, intrusions are often ethically justifi…

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