Unethical intrusion?

12th September 2003 at 01:00
Celebrity couple, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones won substantial damages when photos of them were published without permission in Hello magazine.

In my local paper, only those convicted have their names published in the Court File column. The identity of victims of certain types of crime is withheld in the media. The faces of young offenders shown on television are obscured. Authors of letters to newspapers can elect not to have their name printed (although the letter is then less likely to be published - Editor).

However, young people aged15 or 16 who have committed no crime (unless gaining relatively few GCSE A* to C grades compared to their peers is a crime) have their names and GCSE "score" published in local newspapers. Their permission is not sought.

They may suffer taunting from others at school (where, also, and wrongly in my opinion, detailed results are displayed for all to see). They may have worked very hard, spent many hours revising and have performed as well as they were able. They are rewarded by being named and shamed.

Schools and newspapers may wish to highlight those who have outstandingly high grades. Pictures of jubilant groups of girls embracing one another do indeed brighten up the paper's pages and raise the school's profile.

But is it ethical? What of those who are not so gifted but may have worked their socks off only to be shown up to the whole local community as being bottom of the class?

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