There’s an old saying in journalism that what’s interesting to the public is not necessarily in the public interest. While that may be true, there’s no clarity among journalists and media proprietors about what the latter actually means.

Was the publication of Nova Peris’ sexually explicit emails in the public interest? Two of our most influential media companies — News Corp and Fairfax — seemed to think so. As Crikey wrote on Wednesday, we disagree.

Communications Minister and former journalist Malcolm Turnbull has joined the debate this morning, saying the NT News went too far, while Tony Abbott has said he doesn’t pontificate on media standards (ahem, really, Prime Minister?)

Today we talk to media practitioners about where they draw the line around private life. As you’ll see, there are differing opinions and no hard and fast rules.

So what is the public interest? When is the invasion of privacy justified? As we face a new battle to protect our privacy from increased surveillance powers by the state, they’re questions we should be thrashing out.