Friday, July 10, 2009

Laws don't allow many exemptions for reporters: Comment on U.K. wiretapping allegations

In 1998, the Cincinnati Enquirer shelled out $10-million and published three massive apologies, renouncing a story about Chiquita Brands International fruit company, saying it had been deceived by its reporter. As it turned out, a source hadn't provided voicemails. The reporter, Mike Gallagher, pleaded guilty to illegally tapping into the voicemail system. He was sentenced to five years' probation. Whether the story was accurate wasn't the issue. The newspaper hung its reporter out to dry because he broke the law in stealing the voicemails.

The issue is on the front pages again this week, as one British newspaper, The Guardian, has published stories alleging that a tabloid, News of the World, wiretapped British politicians and celebrities, and then paid off those who found out to keep quiet. It's raised questions about the rights of journalists to pry into the lives of public and private figures.

(Click on the title for the full story)

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