Former Chicago NBC-5 reporter Amy Jacobson is caught up in a controversy and ahead is a court case over her actions in July 2007, according to Chicago media.
She has already lost her job as a result of a rival station getting access to grainy video footage of her in a bikini swimsuit in the backyard of Craig Stebic, a man who was at the center of a developing case regarding his missing wife.
While the footage shows nothing that suggests there was more then just talking going on that day, many people feel that Jacobson crossed a line and put both her personal and professional reputation on the line.
It is also important to note that Jacobson was on her way to swimming with her two sons when she got the invite to speak with Stebic. Basically her choice of attire led to widespread rumors and has prompted a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Stebic’s neighbor and CBS-2 which aired the tape.
Now in 2009 a lawsuit is being filed against the neighbor of Stebic and CBS-2. The lawsuit basically states that the privacy of Jacobson and Stebic was violated as they were both on fenced in private property while speaking together by the pool.
In the age of technology and the potential to capture images and video on a wide range of devices, we all have to take an extra step to protect our reputation and prevent opportunists from taking advantage of certain situations.
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps surely learned recently that wherever you are there may be someone taking your picture doing something you wouldn’t want seen.
What can you do and others do to avoid the kind of accusations facing Jacobson, not to mention the rumors, lost job, and damaged reputation?
1.) Dress the part – One of the biggest talking points of this controversy is that Jacobson showed up to speak with a person of interest in a missing persons cases wearing a bikini. Even if she had the upmost good intentions, she was collecting information for her employer as a reporter and a public figure. If you are on the job, then look and act like it.
2.) Think before acting – You never know who is snapping your picture or videotaping what you are doing. Consider what you are about to do before doing so, even if you can’t see anyone doesn’t mean someone else isn’t watching you.
3.) Be private – Michael Phelps should have used better judgment when deciding to partake in smoking marijuana. He did it at a college party where camera phones and digital devices are pretty much always snapping photos. In the privacy of his own home, that photo would have never been taken.
4.) Monitor your image – With social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace we often freely post pictures of ourselves and our friends doing things that perhaps family or employers might find unsavory. Lock down your accounts to allow only direct friends to see your photos and profiles and consider removing pictures that might come back to haunt you later. Google yourself from time to time to see what comes up and ask those hosting something that might hurt your reputation to remove the item.
5.) Fight back – Jacobson is doing the right thing by fighting back in this case. Regardless of whether her behavior was acceptable or not, the simple fact of the matter is that her expectations of privacy were likely violated. She didn’t film or photograph the day; no one with her was clearly doing so, and she was in a fenced in private yard.
Whoever filmed the video did so without her consent and the film was then aired by a rival network for what seems like little more then dirty ratings battling. Always fight back when you think you’re rights have been violated, you’re being slandered, or someone is using your image without your permission.
More information: http://www.chicagomag.com/core/pagetools.php?pageid=9279&url=%2FChicago-Magazine%2FDecember-2008%2FTale-of-the-Tape%2F&mode=print