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Candidates shot – debate ensues

Not the face!

Not the face!

With video, I mean, not bullets – although the drama over filming a requisition meeting might make you believe otherwise.

There’s a debate on ManxForums about a candidate filming a public meeting, and I hear rumours a would-be MHK is unhappy. So what’s wrong with it?Well…

Nothing.

I’ve been told there’s a candidate who’s objecting to being filmed or for footage to be made public. I’ve no idea who it is, nor whether it’s the meeting talked about on ManxForums, but they really need to read up on the law.

Let’s be clear: in a private place, you have certain rights to privacy (thanks to the EU) . That means no long lenses into your living room, or photographers trespassing onto private land for shots.

But if you are in a public place, there is no right to privacy or expectation of it. Anybody can take photographs of anything in a public place and it’s pretty much tough luck if you don’t like it.

Don’t believe me? Click here for UK police advice on photography in public places.

Privacy and publicity

A friend on a national newspaper once asked me if I wanted to earn a substantial amount of cash at the start of my career.

Of course, I said yes: reporters aren’t exactly paid sky-high wages and nationals generally overpaid.

The job, like the newspaper, turned out to be a bit distasteful. I had to confront a convicted paedophile about his past after he got a job working with children

This was before the law was tightened up and criminal background checks introduced. The newspaper wanted a scoop, so I pitched up on doorstep his and rang the bell.

When he came to the door, I told him why I was there. He stepped into he street, closed the door behind him so his family couldn’t hear, and told me he didn’t want to talk about it.

When I rang my friend about my failure, he said “That’s fine, we’ll pay you anyway – we just needed him to step into the street so our photographer could get a shot of him”.

Yeah, I felt a bit dirty and used afterwards: but the law stood then as it does now. He was in the street, off his private property, and so photography was fine.

Filming a public meeting is not wrong.

Candidates using video

There’s a question on ManxForums about whether a candidate should be able to video and upload footage which they may have edited.

Again, this is not wrong.

If you were to edit a rival so it looks like they’re saying something they’re not, there’s an awesome case for libel – and the worse you make them look, the higher the damages would be.

But that hasn’t happened.

The video’s been uploaded to a website – and it’s obvious it’s a candidate who shot it. There’s no question of falsehood or misleading the public. In fact, thanks to election rules it’s clearly marked as belonging to the candidate.

Noone expects the clannish requisition!

Sorry, I almost went a whole post without a pun.

There’s a point being made forcefully on MF that there’s somehow a conflict of interest having one candidate film and upload a video of the meeting.

The answer to that is simple: if you’re a candidate (or anyone else for that matter) you could have shot it yourself. The blame doesn’t lie with the candidate who did take the initiative, it lies with those who complain but didn’t.

In the case of the Rushen meeting, it seems to be one lone poster on a forum site: I can’t imagine a politician who doesn’t like an opportunity for publicity.

People rarely understand journalists have no extra rights whatsoever compared to a member of the public. If I can take notes, record audio or shoot video, so can you.

Some free advice

If you’re running for a seat in the House of Keys, you’re about to enter public life. Being camera shy will not help you.

If you think you can’t deal with scrutiny, public life may not be for you.

But if you’re running and want some advice on how you can use your own social media presence imaginatively, I can help. You can still come up with something innovative, even this late in the day.

Click here to get in touch and find out how Chips Cheese Gravy Media can help if you’re running in September’s general election!

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