Look, he’s got a camera!

Published: September 8, 2011

Everyone wants to be on camera so they can get their 15 minutes of fame

The other night I was out with friends for dinner at a restaurant when a famous TV chef and his entourage entered the restaurant. As everyone started filling their plates the cameraman turned on a dinky light. I looked around and saw the celebrity chefs weren’t the only ones who were being filmed. Everyone in the restaurant was — of course, without unanimous consent.

Surprisingly, I seemed to be the only one who had a problem with this. Suddenly, there was a wave of excitement and another spell of filming and clicking — local celebrity Zubeida apa (I hate calling her apa, since she’s probably my grandmother’s age) had entered the restaurant.

I complained to the manager, but he refused to do anything.

The incident reminds me of what I come across in my media classes. I had been taught that invading someone’s privacy is as offensive as trespassing into someone’s territory. There are laws backing this — laws of defamation, trespassing, nuisance and surveillance.

The proper way to conduct a shoot in public places should include taking permission from the people present, or at the very least, informing them.

Compare this to how someone would have complained had I started filming them with my personal camera without permission.

But the problem is that people get excited when they see the camera. Everyone wants to be on TV and have their 15 minutes of fame. They don’t mind being filmed. They hand over themselves to the media.

A corporate lawyer (who teaches a friend of mine) who handles media law told his class that people hardly file cases against media organisations when their privacy is breached. The lawyer says this is probably because people are not even aware that such laws exist and that people have the right to sue a media organisation.

As a media studies graduate, I came to know about the ethics of journalism and norms that journalists need to consider when reporting. All of us, as consumers, are responsible for how far we allow the media to encroach upon our lives. If we grant it unnecessary power then we have no right to complain about it.


Sidrah Moiz Khan

The author is a sub-editor at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://youbecome.me Paagal Insaan

    Dear Sidrah,
    Privacy laws in most of the world do not prohibit filming someone in a public place unless there’s a strong case for an expectation of privacy.
    It is unreasonable to expect news organizations to get release forms signed by everyone who happens to be at a public place when they’re filming. Recommend

  • FJ

    lol, yep, people are more interesting in getting themselves caught as a glimpse and show it off to their friends “I am on TV”. A country where many feel that ogling is not a bad etiquette would definitely fall for this crap. Recommend

  • Representative

    Not to mention the grotesque footages’ they capture at blast sites, these guys would just film anything and everything. Do t.v channels have any ethical code of their own?Recommend

  • Arzoo

    Sidrah: Welcome to Pakistan where many things are lagging a few decades back from the civilized world. Many things that we take for granted in the other world are just non-existent in Pakistan: street signs, no-smoking in public places, cars parked at driver’s will blocking a road, proper toilet facilities in public places, common manners and courtesy, one can go on with many such irritations. Now we can add this issue of people filming you without your permission which you have pointed out to the long list. And, I have come to the conclusion that it is not a matter of this country being a poor country. No, it just lacks some basic decency and manners. I say this with a great amount of heartache and pain about my own people. I also know for a fact that at least common courtesy and extremely good manners existed in Pakistan when I was growing up as a kid in the 60s. Recommend

  • Canya

    A very valid observation put across well!Recommend

  • http://facebook.com/mswaseem Saad

    So sue them! If you can’t, hush up!Recommend

  • PrivacyRespected

    totally agree with you!Recommend

  • Gibran Ashraf

    One would agree with you that media – Pakistan or around the world including the most advanced nations, lack adequate privacy laws (none of the statutes you mention are applicable here though) – when do you know you have crossed the line?

    Yes it is good practice to seek permission from whom you are filming, but I would counter your claim by this: By being in a restaurant, you were already in a public place.

    Here would be where you argue that the manager ought to have approached all of his customers, sought their permission before allowing cameras in, in the least inform you of their presence. While this may seem fair you need to understand that being in a public space, you or anyone is allowed to take pictures/video of anyone (there are certain limits such as following, or deliberately training your camera on someone for longer than a stipulated time) or anything – that is your right.

    So yes, in a public place feel free to shoot anyone with your camera, its in private places that you ought to be respectful.Recommend

  • http://Australia Naeem Siddiqui


    There is no harm on calling someone of your grandma age as ‘Apa’ it will certainlly not raise your age, in our social culture some words like ‘Apa’, ‘Bhaya’ become part of the name :)

    For media people, filiming in a public place like resturant, hotels, hospitals, markets doesnot require any prior permission from ‘public’. I live in Australia and came across with same situation many times and never saw media people taking permission from individuals.

    Frankly speaking this is not practicle. :)Recommend

  • Mutee

    The fault also lies with people, they want to be on TV so much – no wonder media people don’t think of anyone not dying to be shot! It is great to see that you stood against this invasion, I would have taken a stand too even if it meant me being thrown out or breaking a camera – just to make my point. I also hate it when it happens at weddings, its so idiotic!Recommend


    The last few years has seen PAK developing apart from the typical mullahz and elite i.e the JUNAID Jamshed and amir liaqat typoz who try to enjoy all fruits of Secularism and Capatalism under the cover of Burqa and Hijab. The recent suddenly-Burqanized TV hosts on morning showz who on some other ocassions would represent the 2% was a perfect example of this.

    This had to happed ever since Jinnah’s secular PAK was hijacked by PAK establishment and Mullazh, who lately, after seeing they are “incompatible” with rest of the world have in recent year customized shariah to suit the “Fashion trends of West” with “Morality and Namaz roza sms” obligations . . .

    No doubt PAK is a teetar batair Nation. If a camera man is at a place where 10,000 or 100000 people are present he should first take NOC from all , one by one. lolzRecommend

  • As

    Hushing up at every wrong thing is what we as a Nation has always done. And Loosers Hush up which is so evident feom our society. We r loosers… Good going Saad bohat taraqi karo [email protected]: Recommend

  • KolachiMom

    Name the restaurant and manager. You were a paying customer, and should not have been ignored that way. Sadly, the establishment were only interested in further marketing themselves, while treating their clients in such a shabby manner. Recommend

  • Hameed Langraw

    We, being part of media..sadly we don’t care about the feelings of other..we want people to act on our direction unfortunately, we also become party in many issues. Recommend

  • Zain Nabi

    If everyone wants to be on camera so as to get the 15 minutes of fame, then you become no one to complain about it. And let me assure you one thing; even if you raise your voice, the society you are living in will not pay any heed to it.

    And did I mention about Media that it is not going to follow a code of ethics (if there is any of it)?Recommend

  • Anthony

    Actually, most of you are wrong. A restaurant is not a public place. It is a private establishment. The author being a paying customer who is paying for food and service in a seated area within the 4 walls of a private establishment is covered by certain rights and that includes a right to privacy.

    When celebrities allow media to follow them into a restaurant, it is their personal choice to allow them to. That doesn’t automatically mean every other paying customer in the restaurant is suddeny in a public area. They have rights to privacy, and choose to exercise the opposite of what the celebrity is doing. Recommend

  • Khan

    Well, to all those who are supporting the TV crew, your argument that she was in a public place is totally wrong … She went there to eat and was allotted a table not the whole restaurant … If its a public place does that mean when you go to a restaurant you are allowed to do every thing you want? NO.
    Even in public places such as a street no one can film you without your permission … but If there are many people the crew can not go and ask every one personally. As the majority of people had no objection Sidra should have asked the film crew to not film her.
    Here in the UK at least, they use Pixellation to censor your face if you have any objection them filming you.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Small incident but you have given it a large projection. Was your privacy really all that invaded ? You could have smiled and put your head down and ignored the tamasha, which must have lasted a short time. Recommend

  • Ammar

    Really unnecessary article. You’re in a restaurant not a private bedroom. You chose to be in the public eye yourself. No one needs your permission to shoot a video in a public place, which you certainly don’t have any more claim to than anyone else. If you don’t want to be filmed, go to someplace private. Recommend

  • Danish S

    Being a photographer I can say that it’s the photographer’s right to take photo of whomever at a public place. If you do not want your picture taken you can do one of the two things 1)politely ask the photographer to not take a shot of you or 2) not be at a public place. With that said, your situation seems a bit different as you were at a restaurant and restaurants are private properties. The restaurant owners should have been more considerate of that, but oh well…Recommend

  • FAZ

    I wonder what if Hanif Raja would have “trapped” her in chupa rustam or any other similar program being done by others these days!! Or is there a permission too for such programs??Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/faizanlakhani Faizan Lakhani

    I totally agree with Sidrah,
    being a television reporter, I know its not considered ethical world wide to film some one without his/her consent, but in Pakistan – we’re not working in ideal situation.

    Sidrah, if you were uncomfortable, you should have tell the field producer to not to shoot you. Recommend

  • http://djdurrani.blogspot.com Saad Durrani

    Well, you know you have a point but this does not go. They weren’t eavesdropping on you. A public place is accessible to everyone. They should’ve informed the people sitting there, and that’s it.Recommend

  • samreen jabbar

    dear Sidrah, i do agree with you. there are laws, but most of us are ignorant. we even are not sure that these privacy laws are implemented upon us as well, or is it again a foreign law that is taught to us. and again, this is not the only dimension of ignorance of ours. we even donot bother to know what the state implement on us as any economy policy. yet we are an equal part of it. who is to blame? the implementing authority? or we?Recommend

  • Rizvi

    @Sister Sidrah.

    Are you really telling this nation about privacy who doesn’t belief in Hijab? This nation has lost all levels of modesty and believe in glamour and show off.

    MashAllah a good article.Recommend

  • http://lastrhyme.blogspot.com/ Danny Phantom

    I completely agree with you. They should at least take permission from all the people present their. Or announce it.
    oh and I also don’t get why they call her Zubaida “apa” lol She is so old – they should call em Dadi.
    oh and also media is so ignorant these days that they don’t even care about privacy of other people.

    Great Article thought.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/faizanlakhani Faizan Lakhani

    now you’re taking this to a different direction which has nothing to do with the topic. Recommend

  • http://jingoist.pk/blog jingoist

    Dear Author,

    Its nice to see such thoughts coming from a media graduate…

    Very well done! I look forward for more of these out of the box thoughts from you!Recommend

  • Bilal

    once i was in a restaurant with friends and a camera crew came in, we told them twice not to film us and we don’t want to answer any of their questions, but he didn’t listen. My ‘Khan’ friend suddenly got angry and broke his camera. That is how u handle invasion of privacy, ‘Khan’ style :PRecommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-zenith-of-enthusiasm-by-NH/219233198101971 Noo-ul-Ain Haniff

    mice write-up agree with uRecommend

  • T imm

    good job i m agree with uRecommend

  • danish ali

    assalamo alaikumRecommend

  • GlobalNomad

    Ok everyone, interesting write up, am wondering if photojournalists take permission when they shoot war grounds, or Abu Ghareeb Jail, and when when they cover accidents!!! do they first ask permission of the one being hit by a rickshaw or a bus and then film them. Someone talked about civilized world, the word papparazi did not come from Pakistan OK!!!!Recommend

  • ibrar arshad

    So what you did was simply nothing. Instead of telling the cast and crew what they were doing was unethical, You opted to remain silent. You see the problem lies here. Every single person, when its their turn to actually do something , simply retreat to avoid any mess.
    Perhaps you were also craving for those “15 minutes of fame” – No offense.Recommend