California Forum

The Conversation / Journalistic access

Last Sunday’s Conversation about media access to celebrities and public officials asked the question: Under what circumstances should a newspaper use photographs provided by publicists?


Access different for government, private citizens

Re “We all lose when journalists lose access” (Forum, Joyce Terhaar, Oct. 25): Sorry, no, we don’t all lose. When it comes to public institutions like government, I agree with the premise 100 percent. In the interests of transparency, to which we are all fully entitled, there should be full and unfettered access, including pictures and records of dialogue.

But, and it’s a big “but,” the same is not true for private persons, or even public persons outside of their public functions. Spencer Stone’s personal privacy preference not to have his picture splashed across the media trumps, by a country mile, the media’s right to free speech or the public’s “need to know.”

Media seems to think everybody’s personal affairs are in the public domain. Why?

Mike Creasy, Lincoln

Ron Middlekauff – I was a Sacramento video photojournalist for 30 years at a TV station. I agree. When in a public setting, on streets and such, anything is fair game for anyone. Journalists fight for the public’s right. I never bought willingly into the staged pabulum. The Bee and other credible journalists shouldn’t either. In it, we (the public) all win.

Elsa Cisneros – I can understand the viewpoint of news media. However, using Spencer Stone’s incident isn’t a fair representation of covering a “celebrity.” He became famous for an act of heroism, but he has not actively put himself in the public eye, other than the presentations given by public officials. He had every right to his privacy in the hospital and leaving it. The Bee’s news story does not trump all.

Vanessa Garcia – I work at UC Davis Medical Center as a nurse, and we have strict HIPAA laws that we cannot divulge any information about our patients. We constantly have camera crews hanging around the hospital. People have the right to their privacy. The world doesn’t need to know everything about everyone. Media has gotten out of control.

John Carney – TMZ and paparazzi the world over make the same rationalizations about crucial access. You can attempt to foist “celebrity” upon an individual who never sought it. And that individual has the right to resist it.

Joni Anderson – Photojournalism is just as important as the written word. A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. I feel very strongly that freedom of the press is very important to maintaining the type of country that our founders wanted.