Expectations of privacy

Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys (and one gigantic football stadium) walked in a bar recently, had some drinks and talked with some fans about former coach Bill Parcells (““isn’t worth a s—”) and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, whom he said he would never draft.  Unbeknown to Jones, a fan captured this exchange on his smart phone and soon the  video found its way to Deadspin, a sports blog.

Jones’ comments seem to be newsworthy, so soon the mainstream media linked to and commented on the video, much to the dismay of some. Many ethical questions to pick from here: publishing off-the-record comments,  erosion of journalistic standards and the ethics of blogging. 

But the larger issue is the expectation of privacy we can claim when we enter a semi-public place like a bar. Should Jones have been more careful and been aware that someone with a smart phone might be recording him? Or are we losing something when people, private or public figures, have to enter a bar under the assumption that whatever they do or say might end up on a Web site the next day? I tend to think the latter, what about you?

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3 thoughts on “Expectations of privacy

  1. Its a shame that with the new technology surfacing that you have to worry that when slip up it might be posted in a video. You have to always be responsible for your actions and opinions but even so much more so now. Although his comments were offensive everyone is entitled their opinion so what he did I don’t see as being wrong and to post it on deadspin was just unfortunate. Their definitely is an ethical dilemma about having millions seeing something with out giving consent but in today world I think when your a public figure you need to be aware that something like this can happen.

  2. I feel like journalism is definitely on a downward slant right now. Instead of reporting facts, the ‘gotcha’ journalism realm where “dirty details” and dirt on someone has become a prime reason to report a story. A celebrity’s PR is held in such a high esteem because that’s all the public sees. I mean no one knew of Tiger Wood’s ‘shenanigans’ until it escalated to a point where it was inevitable that the media would get a hold of the story. His secret life came out into his public life.

    Everyone has the right to their own opinion and if a fan expressed this same opinion and someone captured it, the capturer may be considered just a creep spying on people versus a contributor to a big news story. It’s sad to say, but celebrities now are always in the limelight and if someone catches them saying something that they obviously may not say on TV, it’s going to be reported and made a big deal by the media. I guess that comes with being a celebrity, but also journalists need to be looked at critically to determine if what they’re reporting is newsworthy and return back to the basis of journalism: reporting facts. Nothing else.

  3. I disagree with the assertion that journalism is about the facts. Journalism is about the truth. The difference may or may not come down to semantics, but I do think there is a difference.

    I do find it sad that we have to be ever vigilant in what we say, because at any time someone could document what we thought was an otherwise insignificant remark. In the old days, this would amount to gossip, and probably not much more. Nowadays, watch out.

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