The Present of Newsworthiness
19 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2017
Date Written: 2016
In early February 2016, less than a week before this Book Symposium, the Utah Supreme Court decided that the photographic results of a woman’s plastic surgery were not necessarily newsworthy. The decision may seem inconsequential at first. The plaintiff had an abdominoplasty and breast augmentation and agreed that photos be taken “for medical, scientific or educational purposes.” Fox News later aired partially redacted photographs of her nude body and post-operative state in a news story about the benefits and risks of plastic surgery. The plaintiff settled with Fox, but filed a privacy-based lawsuit against her plastic surgeon. The Utah Supreme Court heard the case after a trial court dismissal and decided That the plaintiff’s privacy tort claims should continue. As regarding publication of private facts, the tort most relevant to this Symposium Paper, the court decided for the first time that such claims should include a newsworthiness element and defined the element in line with the Restatement (Second) of Torts. News, the court wrote, “is a concept that has essentially been defined by traditional publishers and broadcasters, ‘in accordance with the mores of the community.’” Therefore, in Utah, if a truthful news item is newsworthy, but privacy-invading, the newsworthiness of the information can trump the plaintiff’s privacy interests.
Keywords: Newsworthiness, Privacy, Publication of Private Facts, Restatement (Second) of Torts, Media, Journalism, First Amendment
JEL Classification: K00, K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation