LETS GO VIRAL: FAME OR COMMONSENSE.

The allure of fame and recognition is a perceptively evident goal within the online world, but does it come with threats? Janine White discusses…


BY Janine White: Culture Editor


In a world where going viral means everything, does common-sense enter the thought process?

Most people looking for rapid fame are searching for that breaking story, image or video that takes the world by storm. Looking for the research that no one else has found; the embarrassing photo of a celebrity that everyone will ogle over. More clicks mean more money, sponsorship and job offers after all. Morals, common-sense and big picture thinking is often abandoned in the hopes of being a known name to strangers.

With Pulitzer prizes, journalism awards, grants, praise and notoriety, it is unsurprising that capturing one single snapshot of a celebrities life can become a challenge that all media outlets strive for regardless of the long term effects on those pursued.

The mental health effects of reputation damage, lack of privacy and people being used for infamy can be noted with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan who fled the United Kingdom due to the British press being “toxic”. Explaining on An Afternoon with Prince Harry and James Corden, Harry stated that any father and husband must remove their family from such distress.

Footage has been released of Prince Harry and the Duchess partaking in an interview with the American talk show host, Oprah Winfrey. In an interview broadcast on March 8th Harry expressed that his “biggest concern was history repeating itself” with reference to his mother’s death in a chase with the Paris Paparazzi.

“I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here talking to you with my wife by my side because I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her [Diana], going through this process by herself all those years ago.”

Megan Markle won a privacy invasion case against one Sunday newspaper in 2021 due to the damage caused. It appears that journalistic morals have a lot of grey areas as this was not the only case against the media that has been in the courtroom over the last few years.  

When Sir Cliff Richard’s home was raided following an accusation of sexual assault, one news channel arrived at the property before the investigating officers. Prior to applying for a search warrant, the station had made a deal with the police force to be present at the raid and to use their helicopter to film inside the celebrity’s home.

After the accusations were unsubstantiated, Sir Cliff took this broadcaster to court for damages. He won a considerable settlement for the irreparable damage caused to his reputation. Stating that the immense intrusion of his privacy, the sensationalist reporting and suggestion that he was guilty caused book deals to disappear, public appearances to be cancelled and the financial and reputational impact was unfixable.

Instead of accepting the harm caused, it was publicised that the defendants considered the ruling to be a serious blow to press freedom.

Even with the above ruling in 2019, the airing had already received considerable sales of their story, a nomination for the Royal Television Society’s scoop of the year award and further publicity for the ability to get the deal with the police. The ongoing reputation damage to Sir Cliff of little relevance, in the pursuit of fame.





Even with the above ruling in 2019, the airing had already received considerable sales of their story, a nomination for the Royal Television Society’s scoop of the year award and further publicity for the ability to get the deal with the police. The ongoing reputation damage to Sir Cliff of little relevance, in the pursuit of fame.

As with all media outlets online and off, once something has been published or released it becomes available for all. Recently it has been reported that a young woman has received funding to continue her work on domestic violence. During lockdown Krystyna Paszko set up a Facebook page that victims could message in code, with certain phrases leading to police support and protection.

Although this is a story that has brought to light the enormity of violence against women in Poland, it has exposed to the world that victims could be using social media to escape. With this knowledge now available to all, including perpetrators, where can victims turn for help in secrecy?

Similar contradictions between the desire for fame and common-sense can be heard in a song released by Shanna Jackman. Although aiming to bring awareness and respect for the work carried out by emergency services, one verse describes a contact from a victim of domestic violence requesting pizza. The implicitness of the conversation giving vital information to perpetrators about this salvation.

At present there are no laws that govern journalism, although many publishers, companies and outlets are requiring the Journalism Code of Ethics to be adhered to. One of the most cited guidelines is that ethical journalism requires reporters to minimise harm; everyone is a human being deserving of respect.

The details of this guideline clearly state that ‘Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness’, that you should ‘consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges’ and ‘consider the long term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication’. At present these are merely guidelines and not legally enforceable.

Does revealing important lifelines for victims, damaging the mental health of those shadowed, destroying reputations and credibility of celebrities serve the publics interest? Does it make sense and follow ethical guidelines? Or is the climb to fame the most important goal?


MACKAYAN: LETS GO VIRAL. FAME OR COMMONSENSE.



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