BBC1's Panorama looks at the media and privacy tonight in a programme which asks: 'Is it farewell for Kiss and Tell?' Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten, who had his affair with a male prostitute splashed across the pages of the News of the World in 2006, says that despite his humiliation, the press was in the right. He tells Panorama: "I concluded that however awful it may be, it's better to have a press which can expose MPs' private lives because it means we have a free press… it means we can expose corruption." The programme also looks at the recent court victory for Formula One boss Max Mosley against the News of the World's story about his sado-masochistic orgy with five prostitutes. Mosley tells Panorama that without a legitimate public interest element, not only should newspapers pay damages to him, but he is pushing for criminal offences to be enacted that could see jail terms for newspaper editors on top of hefty fines. News of the World editor Colin Myler counters: "We're talking here about a situation that touches every part of our life. The book that you read…publishers, broadsheets, the BBC, broadcasting, radio. "It is an issue that fundamentally goes to the heart of who we are as a society and where we want to be - the public's right to know." Private Eye editor Ian Hislop defends the media's right to publish. He says the trend of high profile celebrities to use privacy laws to punish the media or seek injunctions against publication of damaging details about their private lives is a dangerous threat. "If you are rich and powerful, I mean privacy is the new libel, and much easier," Hislop said. Soap star Barbara Windsor warns fellow celebrities that media attention is part of the job and said she is still flattered by the ongoing attentions of the press "It's all right, they're trying to earn a crust - that's what I think and I'm very flattered. "What a lot of people in my business expect is that they can switch it on and off. Well, you can't do that, no." The programme is on BBC 1 at 8:30 pm tonight. For more info see BBC website.
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
You can contact me with stories, ideas and comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow me on Twitter @jonslattery