Last Night: Reuters, Celebs and Privacy--or Privissy

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It's been a busy 24 hours, and the early part of last night was spent at the Reuters Building on Times Square listening to a really interesting panel on "Public Figures, Private Lives" –but, what they seemed to mean by public figures was gay public figures–and how much you can and should reveal in the media. The panel, from left to right, was Jacob Weisberg of Slate, Bonnie Fuller of Star/American Media, Paul Holmes of Reuters, First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, RiAA president and media GLBT consultant Hilary Rosen, and Gary Morgan of Splash News.

Before the panel opened up discussion, there was an awkward, self-promotional video concocted by Reuters–and then Holmes took the floor. The first topic? Do you say it Privissy (like the Brits) or Pryvassy (like Floyd Abrams)? Then he moved on to talk about, well, how much the media should intrude upon and pursue the private lives of public figures. General consensus was that you could let the dogs loose on anyone who tried on monetize themselves (Lohan, Simpson, The Jolie-Pitt Experience) but politicians (enter endless Mark Foley debate here) were slightly more touchy targets. The buzz word was hypocrisy. Was it hypocritical of Foley to vote for the sanctity of marriage act when he was gay? And who is the judge? Do we as voters have a right to know everything about the values and beliefs of those we vote for? And is it the medias responsibility to "out" them?

But guess what the even touchier topic was? That's right–gay celebrities. The verdict? Let them out themselves on the cover of People magazine cause old media ain't breaking it. Which brings me to privacy and the Internet…

There was quite of bit of talk about First Amendment/copyright/privacy issues and how they apply to old and new media. Is online unreliable because it isn't vetted? Or is online closer to the truth because it's not confined by the same boundaries and therefore can print things without fear of being sued?  With a panel that was decidedly old media addressing an audience was full of bloggers and online journalists, THAT would have been an interesting panel topic all it's own.  

By Caroline Palmer

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