|UK media debates publishing photos of Prince Harry|
|Friday, 24 August 2012 10:51|
Britain’s newspaper industry, after being rocked by the News of the World/Leveson/Milly Dowler ordeal, has been presented with the ethical decision of the year: to print or not to print?
The photos of Prince Harry partying in Vegas that emerged two days ago have posed a dilemma to newsdesks. Editors must decide between avoiding the wrath of Lord Leveson and Buckingham Palace and selling papers. The Sun and the Daily Mirror, the capital’s most popular tabloids, have opted for selling papers.
Under threat of legal action from St James’s Palace and the PCC’s strong urging, most dailies have refrained from publishing the photos. The Sun, however, included an editorial comment under the headline “Pics of Harry you’ve already seen on the internet.”
Managing editor David Dinsmore added, “This is about the ludicrous situation where a picture can be seen by millions of people around the world on the internet but can’t be seen in the nation’s favourite paper read by 8 million people every day.”
Troublingly, however, the Sun had little reason to print the photos other than their prevalence on the internet, Nick Armstrong, a media lawyer at Charles Russell, says. He calls the publishing of the photos opportunistic.
“The Sun's arguments about public interest and Harry having forfeited his privacy rights are not convincing,” Armstrong says. “Other newspapers show that there can be a debate about the quality of royal security, for example, without the need to publish the photographs.”
Other web-based media outlets are outraged that there is pressure at all, from Leveson, the Royal family or the PCC. A Huffington Post opinion piece called the constraints placed on newspapers by Leveson shocking and outrageous. Blogger Guido Fawkes said the press largely avoided printing photos of Harry because it had been “scared into submission.” Aside from the two tabloids, the print media has not circulated the photos.