From the mailbag!
As my email suggests, I work for a television news station. I read your article
about WTVD's coverage of the Bob Harris/Mike Nifong confrontation on election
day, and I had to give you some insight from a journalist's point of view.
Because the confrontation happened in a public place, the reporter, by rights, is
free to use it. The general rule about right to privacy is that if something happens
within the "public eye", it is public property. So legally, WTVD and Tamara
Gibbs did nothing wrong.
It's within the realm of journalistic ethics that I'm more concerned. While
the interaction definitely seemed to favor Harris, rather than Nifong, in terms
of public reaction, I can't seem to understand why WTVD would air the confrontation
when Harris blatantly requested otherwise. Reporters often hear the phrase "off
the record" in their work, and when someone who is caught on tape unaware--
and is doing nothing wrong-- it is within their rights to request not to be appear
on TV (or in an article). As for myself and my station, we would not air something
like this when a prominent member of our community asked us not too. It's not
like he asked to be on TV, then backed off!
Just my thoughts and experience on the job.