The news of Britain’s Prince Harry, allegedly appearing nude on a US web site during high jinks in Las Vegas has prompted comments from a Newroom contributor who finds a link to media related events in Panama.
British newspapers have been threatened with lawsuits from the Royal Family if they publish the photographs . They would be classified as “invasion of privacy.”
With the country still reeling from phone hacking scandals largely attributed to UK newspapers owned by US citizen Rupert Murdoch, the media has taken the threat seriously.
Mark Scheinbaum, a former UP newsman and professor at Louisville University in Panama writes:
The hacking scandal of the UK now seems to have had its chilling effect on what most Western democracies would have considered normal news flow re Harry's nudity.
There are serious issues of why security did not search party goers to his suite for cameras, guns, or cell phones before entry. There are questions about a military officer getting caught in an ungentlemanly situation regardless of whether or not "everyone does this stuff all the time in the military." Everyone is not a Royal and everyone does not get caught on camera. Oh, yeah, everyone does not double dip the Exchequer as soldier and Royal ward of the taxpayers.
I mostly have refrained from my shock and disgust of Panama's "calumny" laws; arrests of TV videographers, deportation of resident foreign journalists, and in the past three Presidential administrations the culture of a President who has veto power against newspapers and reporters who just plain annoy him.
Investigative reports can lead to the economic and destruction of a press outlet. This in the "progressive" era of Panama politics.
I mostly "refrain" or perhaps restrain myself because I want to keep a low profile of my business, civic, and personal activities in a host Country, and because compared to Ecuador, Venezuela, Guatemala and elsewhere, Panama these days is Censorship Lite.
But here in the USA we have gone down the road of "self regulation." The motion picture producers and studios were allowed to compromise freedom of speech v obscenity issues by an industry dominated "rating system." Studios regularly tweak dialog, a scene here, a nuance there for a more family friendly rating, but quite often for a more shocking and controversial money-making R rating. The Justice Department, Treasury Department and SEC long ago handed lots of financial regulatory discipline and dispute resolution to "Self-Regulatory Organizations." I participate in these and think when the system works it has been dealing with myriad issues in a cost effective manner which can bring more alacrity to problems solving than the Courts. But when SROs fail, as with Bernie Madoff, the results can be irreparable.
We have really knowledgeable journalistic practitioners, academics, and both on Downhold. The Harry incident should spark more than jerks like me making snide remarks and my usual puns and double entendres. I was exposed to the preachings and teachings of John Seigenthaler Sr on several occasions at Vanderbilt U at the Gannett-founded Freedom Forum program. He often tackled the macro philosophical issue of defending the First Amendment even when writers or broadcasters spewed stuff that would make a Veracruz sailor barf. It was sort of the same rationale of devoted ACLU folks who look at the larger issues of freedom.
Listening to the BBC overnight and discussions of Her Royal Highness making an inquiry with the industry-sparked press control board about the Harry story, sent a bit of the chilling effect down my own spine.
OK, I feel better now. Talk among yourselves.