In January of 2010, News of the World, a British tabloid (owned by Rupert Murdoch) claimed that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had broken up for good! Problem is: it was only a rumor, started with News of the World
HOW IT BEGAN
In the last weekend of January 2010, many companies received a detailed article from News of the World about Brad and Angelina’s “break up”. NOTW used their conglomerate powers to put out other concurrent stories about the couple like why they were not attending the Golden Globes together, friends begging Brad to spilt up, and other rumors of Jen and Brad getting back together. Although, none of the stories matched up, people still believed the media.
Brad and Angelina filed an invasion of privacy claim on NOTW for making up a lie about a divorce attorney and agreeing on a spilt. Funny enough that the couple was not even married at the time and the divorce attorney in the article had never even met the couple.
HOW IT ENDED
Brad and Angelina, not surprisingly, won their case. NOTW argued that they did not mean any harm but that facts of the articles were not on their side. Murdoch agreed to issue an apology and pay the fine of “damages“. The complete fine was well enough, donated to the couple’s charity.
I agree with the courts decision because NOTW really had no reason to put multiple stories like that out there with no actual facts or cites from the couple themselves. On an issue like a celebrity break up, it seems the most valiant and successful way to get the real story is from the couple.
I can see why NOTW wanted to run the story for human-interest and readership but there is a line that cannot be crossed. A good example of lines that cannot be crossed is like making up a story about a visit to a divorce lawyer. I think media companies like this should have respect for a celebrity’s privacy and get actual stories from credible sources.
This case against invasion of privacy, especially against a conglomerate like News Corporation, is seriously harmful to the reputation of all news media. This outcome of this case makes the news media look like intrusive liars. Media law is a very serious topic for mass communications and I believe that, from this outcome, it looks as if major media companies are overlooking it.