Many newspapers, magazines, and television programmes make money by reporting on the private lives of public figures such as politicians, sports personalities and entertainers. While the media’s right to freedom of expression should be defended, the media should not intrude into people’s private affairs.
To what extend do you agree or disagree with the statement?
Since the twentieth century, famous people have been receiving public and media attention more than ever. Not only their public images and behaviors have been reporting, commenting, praising or critizing by mass media, their private lives also has been being under the spotlight. This brings the question that whether the media should respect the privacy of celebrities, not inspecting their after-work lives for whatever purpose. On this issue, my opinion is that the media has its right to express freely, and on some cases, it has the right to expose private lives of public figures to the public eye; therefore, I slightly agree with the statement, but not all.
Technically, privacy is the entitled right to everyone; however, privacy is often indistinguishable from publicity when a person uses his or her personal life and private matters to attract attention and seek for influence and power. Some entertainers are of this kind. For example, a singer may begin a relationship with someone famous in order to gain media attention, and therefore make him or her easier to sell albums. Movie stars, together with other people in the show business, often wear luxurious and glamourous clothes in their off-stage lives to attract people such like fans, advertisers, producers and directors. Paris Hilton, a then-unknown heiress, is the archetype of using private matters to gain fame; in her case, they were sex tape and her family background as well as her lifestyle and personal stuff. These celebrities may not expect that their private lives will not be made public, especially for those who are making money from the news and pictures reported and taken by tabloids and paparazzi.
For politicians, they have the least privacy. Politicians and government officials are powerful people who make decisions and establish laws that affect every individual in the country and sometimes the world. Therefore, the public has the right to know what is going on in politicians’ lives. However, some say that people should focus on the performance of a politician instead of his or her personal matters. Nevertheless, one’s personal matters affect one’s performance at work. Furthermore, a politician or an official may do something against the benefit of the public due to his or her private matters, such as spending money from taxpayers to buy house, or like the former French president Mitterand who had taken his secret mistress and illegitimate daughter on some of his foreign visits at state expense, and had required police officials to guard the residence where his secret mistress and daughter were living. On this point, the media serves as a protector for public interest. If the media does not expose private lives of politicians under the scrutiny, democracy would be damaged and corruption, among other things, might occur. This can be proved by the fact that the countries with the least degree of press freedom and countries where reporting personal lives of officials will be punished - North Korea, Mainland China, Myanmar, Nepal, Iran - are the countries with little to no democracy and high rate corruption.
Also, journalists are responsible to ensure that a public figure’s persona is not opposing his or her inner self, particular to people who deliberately make their public images appealing. If a politician or a pop star who openly said that they are against racial discrimination but in reality says ethic slurs, or a celebrity who addressed the concern to starving children throws away leftover meal after the dinner, then such hypocrisy should be reported. On the other hand, one may argue that some figures are not willing to be on the center stage, rather, they are forced. So, the media should not intrude into their private lives. For instance, a highly acclaimed football player who only wants to win the game and be a top player should not be the target of media criticism if he cheats on his wife. Yet, quite often, a public figure is seen as a role model for his or her talent and personal traits, and therefore their immorality affects a large proportion of people. However, if a celebrity is truly mainly focus on his or her work and does try to protect his or her private life instead of revealing it, we should respect his or her privacy.
All in all, for people who make money from their personal affairs, it is unlikely that the media will not expose their private lives. Also, it is the duty of the media to examine the lives, no matter public or private, of influential people that they are not doing wrong things or are not being dishonest. Even so, journalists should respect the privacy of some public figures and should not interrupt their off-work lives, if they are not attempting to exploit their private lives. Hence, I agree with the statement to some extent, but not totally agree with.
TOEFL listening discussions: A conversation between a dorm mother and a resident