"OFF-THE-FIELD": THE ETHICS OF MEDIA COVERAGE OF ATHLETES' PRIVATE LIVES
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Russell Frank, Thesis Supervisor Russell Frank, Honors Advisor
Journalism Sports Sports Reporting Tiger Woods
Like celebrities and politicians, athletes have undergone a spectacular transformation as public figures. Through the media’s coverage, athletes have evolved from working class heroes to marketable celebrities. Along the way, though, coverage went from admiring an athlete’s athletic performance to investigating an athlete’s private information. Ultimately, the increasing demands to report newsworthy stories caused an erosion of athletes’ personal privacy. This paper aims to show how the media’s coverage of athletes’ private lives has eroded their current expectation of privacy and examine views about what information about athletes’ private lives should and should not be reported. It also explores how technological advancements and cultural attitudes greatly influenced the coverage of athletes and their privacy. Through the analysis of the media’s 2009-2010 coverage of Tiger Woods’s extramarital affairs and a survey of several different media members, this paper will recommend a journalistic standard for reporting on athletes’ private lives.