Media must decide crucial question

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2000, 12:00am

The front page of newspapers today often contain exaggerated stories about sex, violence or celebrities.

A while ago, I read on the front page of a Chinese newspaper that Canto-pop singer Leon Lai Ming had attempted suicide and was in critical condition. A few days later, it was discovered that no such thing had happened. So why was the story on the front page? It was ridiculous.

I have also heard that a magazine got its reporters to follow stars and go through their rubbish bin. The reporter then list the contents of the bins to make guesses about the stars' life.

It is just too much. Newspapers and magazines are spending thousands of dollars to stalk the stars, but do not recognise that they are hurting people. It is also an invasion of privacy.

However, some people think that celebrities are role models and should behave themselves. They get a lot of publicity through the mass media, so they have to accept that they are being watched and must pay the price for fame. I agree that celebrities should behave themselves, but they are people like you and me. They have their rights too.

The media argue that the public is curious about celebrities. It wants to know where they go and what they do.

Newspapers want to earn money in the competitive publishing industry. They say they have no choice but give the public what they want.

There have been plans to set up a press council but opponents say it threatens press freedom.

The media need to decide which is more important: making money or having press freedom.

Esther is a student at Ying Wa Girls' School