This question is basically “How come it’s not prostitution if you film it” in the Hit Piece Journalism industry. I’ve been binge watching Rob Wolchek’s Hall of Shame videos and other watchdog journalism stories and don’t understand why these reporters are not brought up on charges for harassing the public. One question I have is when does journalism become stalking or harassment? and could a stalker use independent journalism as a defense? A lot of times these journalists follow people around and film them at their home, in their car, going to work etc. often for days at a time. Do you need a journalism licence or something to practice this type of fake news? If not it would seem that anyone could follow people around with camera equipment, record them without them knowing and say it’s journalism (which it may very well be but you see how this could be abused by this Reporter.
This specific news reporter who does those “Hall of Shame” segments where “Bad Guys” are essentially ambushed in public are more common in larger markets like Detroit. The segments come off as exploitative and one-sided, because the party being ambushed doesn’t want a camera shoved in his/her face. And the stories almost always include a line about how the news crew has been waiting outside the office/home/wherever but no one will talk to them. Example News Story
The golden rule I’ve always learned when it comes to investigative practices that could be described as sketchy is this: can you reasonably defend your investigation as serving a greater good? Is there information that a) the public needs to know, b) is purposely being withheld from the public and c) can only be obtained by resorting to unconventional tactics? If yes, then stuff like hidden cameras/recording people without their knowledge and consent can be justified in my opinion. If no – if, for example, you’re simply out to get your Target by digging around their private life or trapping them in front of a hidden camera – then you’re just being a BULLY. Following someone home seems extreme to me in any case although paparazzi prographers are sort of in a category all their own.
But we have a case where Hall of Shame reporter Rob Wolchek asked his “Bad Guy” why he’s filing for a Personal Protection Order then files a (PPO) himself because his so called “Bad Guy” appeared at his house taking photos in retaliation for the reporter doing a fake news story on his Target. Transcript Evidence of Mr Wolchek using the Commerce Township Court System on a former target of his.
Journalists are not private investigators. Many times people are filmed or asked questions in public because going to someone’s house without getting permission is illegal. Privacy laws apply federally and by state. The reason these laws exist is because journalists usually get high access to local police records without warrants or written FOYA requests.
Paparazzi, if you consider them journalists, are in a legal gray area and have to be extra careful about what they snap and where they snap it. They’re not cops and can’t get warrants to investigate someone’s house, even if someone may get permission to go into the house with said warrant if they’re friendly with the cops (though it’s very unlikely).
I would say quality investigative journalism is typically found through data, research and public information. I’ve found most of the best articles from publications like The New York Times and Mother Jones to be very much data-driven, rather than from sleuthing.