A MORAL RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN IN JOURNALISM: A BALANCING ACT OF NORMATIVE RIGHTS
Zand, L.Q.T. van de
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Balancing the normative values of respect for privacy and press freedom have been a matter of debate for a while now. However, the growing acknowledgement that a right to privacy is an important value has sparked debates about the extent to which no longer relevant personal information should be accessible online. This thought has led to the implementation of a European right to be forgotten. However, journalistic organizations are not subject to this right, as it is commonly reasoned that what they produce, is of public interest. In this thesis, I will partly disagree on this line of reasoning, by arguing that news organizations should, in some cases, respect a moral right to be forgotten in journalism. This moral right would enable some individuals to get a grip about their online reputation perpetuated in journalistic productions. As interest in the news (subject) can decrease over time, the public importance of some publications might no longer be in a justifiable relation with the individual harm that it causes. In other cases, news organizations should respect a moral right to be forgotten to allow individuals to leave past transgressions behind them and start over with a clean slate. Although press freedom and its core incentives -being societies watchdog- ought to be protected, a moral right to be forgotten in journalism that in some cases allows individuals to become no longer traceable to a particular article should be established as it is not likely to affect the holy press freedom. Journalistic organizations that are strongly committed to ethical standards should, therefore, re-evaluate the intrusion in one’s private life versus the importance of the production, when an individual requests so. They should opt for a self-regulatory framework on this matter as they possess the capacities to assess what information is in the public's right to know. In this thesis, I thus will try to balance the right to privacy with the right to a free press, by arguing for a self-regulatory framework that defines which information ought to be protected from a moral right to be forgotten and under which circumstances news organizations should be more inclined to grant an unpublishing request.