‘Dirty little secret’: Journalism, privacy and the case of Sharleen Spiteri

  • Tom Morton
Keywords: Accountability, Ethics, Journalism ethics, Judicial inquiry, Phone-hacking, Privacy, Public health, Public interest, Regulations, Television


In both the Australian and British debates about media ethics and accountability, a key question about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal was whether or not the law should provide stronger protection for individuals from invasion of their privacy by news organisations. There is no explicit reference to privacy in the terms of reference of either Britain’s Leveson or Australia’s Finkelstein inquiries. It can safely be said, however, that invasions of personal privacy by NOTW journalists were an important element in the political atmospherics which lead to their establishment. This article also asks where that dividing line should be drawn. However, it approaches the issue of privacy from a rather different perspective, drawing on a case study from relatively recent history involving Sharleen Spiteri, an HIV+ sex worker who caused a national scandal when she appeared on television in Australia in 1989 and revealed that she sometimes had unprotected sex with her clients.


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How to Cite
Morton, T. (2012). ‘Dirty little secret’: Journalism, privacy and the case of Sharleen Spiteri. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 18(1), 46-68. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v18i1.289