Although sometimes reviled as muckrakers, investigative reporters play a valuable role in exposing societal ills and advancing reform. The success of investigative journalism is due, at least in part, to its use of novel newsgathering techniques. Yet some of these same techniques pose a threat to individual privacy. Current tort doctrine strikes an unsatisfactory balance between these competing interests. The qualified common-law privilege advocated by this Note, in contrast, would protect those newsgathering activities that promote the public welfare. Equally significantly, by sending a clear message to editors, media lawyers, and reporters about the scope of protected newsgathering activity, it would deter newsgathering aimed at individuals in their homes and in their private lives generally. The requirement that a newsgatherer demonstrate probable cause and the abuse-of-privilege doctrine provide additional safeguards against press abuses. Finally, while this Note has specifically addressed creation of the privilege to protect press use of subterfuge, the same analysis might be applied to other novel newsgathering techniques.
Lidsky, Lyrissa Barnett, Intrusion and the Investigative Reporter, 71 Tex. L. Rev. 433 (1992).