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The right of the public to know and the right of the individual to be let alone are inherently in conflict. The origins of these rights are quite different: the former derived from the First Amendment's protection of a free press, the latter in a law journal article published in the late nineteenth century. So, too, has the development of these ideas followed different paths: the former as Constitutional law, the latter as tort law. This article examines the relationship between privacy law and the press. A century ago two lawyers called for legal relief from aggressive newspaper reporters. At the present time, the development of electronic media, and struggles over group identities have given privacy concerns a new life and new urgency.


This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Cooper, S. (1995). Privacy and the news media. The New Jersey Journal of Communication, 3, 103-117, as published in THE NEW JERSEY JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION, 1995, copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at: