Celebrity Privacy – Gossip isn’t journalism…or is it?

Is Alison Mau a lesbian?

Who cares. Perhaps we just need to get over our obsession with the sex lives of television presenters.Watch this clip from Breakfast, Aly Mau gives a serve to the women’s mags, particularly Woman’s Day.

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I can’t see the public interest in this issue. But I can imagine Alison’s children being taunted at school – we all know how cruel kids can be.

They also take a lead from their parents and the media.

This has become a big issue for TVNZ, Close Up waded into the debate later in the day

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And this morning, Bill Ralston was interviewed on Morning Report. For once I think that Sean Plunkett got it right in his intro and his line of questioning.
This is an interesting spat between TVNZ and the gossip mags, but also perhaps indirectly, the Herald on Sunday, which on the weekend carried along piece by Matt Nippert justifying their outing of Mau in the previous week’s issue. It’s not online either, so I’ll dig my copy out of the recycling bin and take another look.
The debate seems to hinge on some sort of privacy laws and some commentators seem to be a little confused. There is no general right of privacy enshrined in privacy laws in New Zealand, or indeed in very few jurisdictions.
The general operating rules are that if you’re in a public place, your photo can be taken without your permission. The Privacy Act covers some types of information, but it doesn’t protect you from paparazzi (a swarm of annoying mosquitos in Italian).
The Privacy Commission’s top-ten-tips say nothing about how to protect yourself from unwanted media intrusion. I don’t think new and more laws are necessarily the fix we’re looking for. In the UK there are now restrictions on media coverage of the royal family, but not for the general public.
The recent John Terry case in the UK is also interesting. The way he tried to protect his privacy – actually his reputation and lucrative sponsorship deals – was by attempting to injunct publication of damaging details of his affair with the girlfriend of an England team mate.
And there’s a suggestion that Alison Mau also considered this approach to prevent publication of details about her new love life (if that’s what it is).
The Law Commission’s review of the Privacy Act is unlikely to bring any joy to those in the cross-hairs of the tabloids who want to limit their exposure to paid appearances and positive mentions.

3 Responses to Celebrity Privacy – Gossip isn’t journalism…or is it?

  1. Mike Kilpatrick says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your statement regarding Ali Mau’s sexuality.

    However, there is another aspect which I find interesting to debate – and that’s the fact TVNZ and Alison Mau have used woman’s magazines in New Zealand to court positive publicity.

    In fact, as I understand it, in the very week she’s criticised one women’s magazine she’s on the cover of another in an arranged photoshoot with Pippa Wetzell.

    Like you said, who cares if she’s gay or bisexual? But my sympathy does get stretched when they try and take the high moral ground whilst willing to use exactly the same system to be glorified.
    [EM: touche Mike, ‘Sup with the Devil,” you might say.
    BTW: the GayNZ website has an interesting take – ‘outing’ is something you do for yourself, it’s not OK for the trash mags to do it for you.
    I totally agree.]

  2. […] it astounding that Beeza let it go through to the keeper. In this exchange with the out-and-about Alison Mau,  Paul applies  his gutter wisdom to the issue of gay adoption: At approximately 6.40am, one of […]

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