Saturday, December 5, 2009

A model post: Tiger Woods and Privacy

On December 3, 2009, The New York Times online published an opinion piece entitled, "Does Tiger Woods Have a Right to Privacy?." This piece reflects on the barrage of news articles about Tiger Woods after he crashed his car and explained it by saying he had been talking on the phone with his wife about another woman at the time of the incident. The Times article brought together the view points of many commentators, including academics, journalists, and commentators, who all responded to whether or not Woods deserved privacy in this matter. The answers ranged from a sympathetic "yes" to a determined "no." My favorite response was from Diana Zimmerman, professor Emerita at NYU's law school. She said, "Truthfully, the best protection for privacy is the willingness of the individual to keep quiet about his personal life." The focus of these answers was not Woods himself, but the culture of celebrity and the respect of personal privacy in America.

The issue is not uncomplicated: journalists in America have the responsibility to provide pertinent information to the American public. The key question then, is what is pertinent? Does it affect the American citizen if Tiger Woods has an affair? What about if an elected official does so? We should ask ourselves what we gain from the news that the media provides. I will still watch Tiger woods play golf, despite his sexual habits. His alleged affairs will not deny me an ounce of pleasure at watching each game unfold. Therefore the story has no impact on my life, and is not pertinent. To come to this conclusion does not infer an attack on the media: journalists for privately owned news outlets will provide what the consumer will buy. We as consumers of news must be responsible for shaping the stories that we are provided by supporting those outlets that give us what we each believe to be pertinent. Reports on sexual scandals, in my opinion, are more shameful to our culture than to the so-called perpetrators.


  1. I agree that a person's sexual life shouldn't effect how people see the individual. I don't look at Tiger Woods any differently because of what he said. When Bill Clinton had an affair I didn't think any differently of him either, there were far worse presidents then him. However, I do have to disagree about one aspect of this blog. I personally love to read about sexual scandals and relationships of celebrities. The media portrays these people as perfect so it is interesting to know that these so called "perfect people" can make mistakes too. These people get paid a lot of money to make movies, play sports, sing, etc. It is pretty much common knowledge that once you become a celebrity your private life will become public. These people know this and still decide to trade their privacy for fame and fortune. I don't think that it is shameful for consumers to read about scandals, however, I don't think that a person should be judge based on their mistakes. We should judge a person based on their achievements and not their mistakes.

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  3. There is something else that we have to take into account here. Don't forget that Tiger Woods had an image before this scandal that was carefully crafted. Crafted by his father while he was growing up, himself and the powers that be in golf and television all played a part in making him a larger than life figure of greatness both on and off the golf course.

    And they all made a fortune in doing it.

    This is the flip side, the sword cuts both ways. I have read MANY stories in the papers and from fans about what kind of man Woods actually is that had nothing to with his philandering. And none of it is good. I have to be honest here in that seeing him get roughed up is not going to keep me up at night.

    There is a saying that says "everything you do in life, you get a bill for it." That seems to be very true in this case.