Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism Ethics and Invasion of Privacy

15 Nov

(Source: The Age, 2011) 

The journalist of NOTW tabloid hacked into child murder victims’ phone, families of London’s July 7, terror attacks in 2007 and soldier’s parents that are killed in action to get information to publish to the public. The phone-hacking scandal or “hackgate” have been going on for quite a long time as a source to get information. The reporter or public investigator would use a four-digit PIN to access to celebrity’s voice mail. Eventually, Rupert Murdoch decided to shut down NOTW because it is intruding people’s privacy.

More information of phone-hacking scandal can be obtain here.

It’s true that we have to go deeper in our research to provide certain information to the public that we could not get from interviews. However, phone hacking is not an ethical way to obtain information because it is intruding people’s privacy.

According to National Union of Journalists Malaysia (2011), the code of ethics said that journalist should use fair methods to obtain information such as news, documents and photographs. Hence, the journalist of NOTW has broken the code of ethics because intruding people’s privacy is not a fair method to obtain information. Looney M. (2010) believes that ethics in reporting will allow the reader more willing to pay for the news. The five ethics in reporting are:

  1. Beware the self-fulfilling prophecy
  2. Build trust in your audience
  3. Assets your right
  4. Set standards in your community
  5. Contribute to the new growth theory

(Source: Google Image, 2011)  

No doubt, smart phones will be an ideal gift for everyone. However, experts discovered that it is easier to break into someone’s phones than ever. Companies are selling software that can break into your phone all over the Internet. Some even market it as a way to watch on your targeted people. (NewsOn6, 2011)

 Drury P. (2011) said that mobile phone hacking has been happening over the years and it can be occur through voicemail and data hacking. Voicemail hacking is when people hacking into your phone’s voicemail message and data hacking are when people obtain information stored in your phone.

 In this case, it is voicemail hacking and it is an invasion of privacy. In conclusion, phone-hacking scandal shouldn’t be practice by journalist because it is not ethical as you are invading people’s privacy. Instead, journalist should use a proper method to obtain information such as interviews.



1. The Age (2011), Hacking Case Set Murdorchs Against Each Other viewed on 15 November 2011

2. National Union of Journalist Malaysia (2011), The Star Branch: Code of Ethics viewed on 15 November 2011

3. Looney M. (2011), How Ethical Journalism Can Boost Readership viewed on 15 November 2011

4. NewsOn6 (2011), Invasion of Privacy: Cell Phone Hacking viewed on 15 November 2011

5. Drury P. (2011), Security and Protection Agency: Mobile Phone Hacking and How To Prevent It viewed on 15 November 2011


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