Study Guide

Privacy Torts and the First Amendment

Privacy Torts and the First Amendment

  • In 1979, Dave Miller died of heart attack; his death was filmed and broadcast by a TV news crew doing a report on 911 emergency responders
  • Miller's family sued, arguing its right to privacy had been violated

A Los Angeles TV station, responding to widespread complaints about the inefficiencies in the city's medical emergency response network, launched an extensive investigation. A news team interviewed city officials and emergency response professionals. It also arranged a ride-along with a team of paramedics. For two days in October 1979, a camera crew, news producer, and reporter recorded the challenges and heroics of these fast-acting medical professionals. They tracked their response time, they interviewed the team members and their families, and they filmed their work as they raced into people's homes trying to save lives. When the investigative series was broadcast, it won accolades from the community as a good example of what local journalism can do. The series shed light on local conditions and contributed to efforts to improve the city's medical emergency response network.blank" rel="nofollow">First Amendment? Must privacy rights take a back seat to the needs of the press?