Media Law Handbook



11. What constitutes negligent infliction of emotional distress?

12. Conclusions

As this chapter indicates, N.C. law provides journalists with almost unparalleled freedom from the threat of suits for invasion of privacy.  In this state, as in England, the line between what sort of private information may be published and what may not is drawn not by the courts but by reporters, photographers and editors.  As in England, however, the dissemination of gratuitously offensive information or the incessant and tasteless prying into the most private affairs of individuals might well result in a backlash against the press and the call for the courts or the General Assembly to curb journalistic excesses.  Therefore, N.C. journalists would do well to attempt always to live up to Justice Burley Mitchell’s description of them as set forth in his majority opinion in Renwick v. News and Observer Publishing Co.:

The conditions which led Warren and Brandeis to argue almost a century ago for a separate tort of invasion of privacy have at least to some extent subsided.  Most modern journalists employed in print, television or radio journalism now receive formal training in ethics and journalism entirely unheard of during the era of “yellow journalism.”  As a general rule journalists simply are more responsible and professional today than history tells us they were in that era.[74]



[74] Renwick v. News and Observer Publ'g Co., 310 N.C. at 325.

11. What constitutes negligent infliction of emotional distress?

Browse other chapters