Do you think journalists should be allowed to break some laws to expose wrongdoing?

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This is, of course, a matter of personal opinion.  My own view is that journalists should be able to break a few laws, but only ones that are relatively minor and which are aimed at preserving people’s privacy.

There is no doubt in my mind that we should not allow journalists to break important laws.  A journalist should not, for example, be allowed to break into the offices of a government agency or a big business in order to try to find evidence of wrongdoing.  That sort of crime is too serious to allow journalists to get away with simply because they say that they are trying to serve the public interest.

However, it may be okay to let journalists break a few laws that have to do with protecting people’s privacy.  For example, let us say that there is a state where it is illegal to videotape someone without their consent.  Journalists should not be forced to obey this law.  If a journalist needs to secretly videotape someone so they can catch that person taking a bribe, they should be able to do so.  The public’s need to prevent wrongdoing overrides, in my mind, the right to privacy of the person committing the crime.  Of course, we would need to severely punish journalists who used secret video or audio tapes to embarrass people rather than to expose important wrongdoing. 

In my view, then, there should be a few laws that journalists are allowed to break in pursuing an important story that would expose wrongdoing.  However, these laws must be relatively minor and unimportant.

 

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