TV3’s Newshub bulletin on Monday led with the “exclusive” story of a French tourist defecating on a Dunedin street.
As CCTV cameras become ubiquitous, news programmes are increasingly screening clips of people with their pants down – both figuratively and literally.
There’s no doubt the availability of pictures elevated the defecating tourist story up the Newshub pecking order. In fact it seems unlikely the item would have even made it into the news bulletin at all without those pictures.
In a CBD district, industrial area or a mall, you need to assume you are being recorded at all times.
Being filmed without permission is clearly an invasion of privacy. The Broadcasting Standards Authority has made clear it can be justified where there is a clear public interest. But that doesn’t mean that it’s legitimate to use video footage obtained with a hidden camera in every story of public interest.
The footage needs to add something that could not have been conveyed in any other way…
But is that fair?
The issue now is businesses and individuals posting covert video footage to the Internet or sending it directly to the media for a wider audience.
On the one hand, you have to simply assume you are being monitored when in public. But on the other, how many of us can claim to have been perfect at all times? Not caught short? Not adjusting the family jewels or the bra?
It is clear that the media have a very low barrier for “public interest”, and as long as it is recorded in public, there is no privacy issue at all.
Best you can do is to be aware, don’t be dumb, and try not to get caught.