A Question of Conscience: Princess Diana and the Paparazzi

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Dirck Halstead : One Thread

Not to condone the actions of money hungry papparazzi . Let us try to keep the facts in light and the nature of the profession in perspective.

First and most importantly if, as the facts indicate the driver of the car was drunk and taunting the papparazzi, to " catch me if you can" the blame surely should rest with the driver who made a life and death game with his passenger's safety. If the facts indicate that the ex-fighter pilot was drunk and taunting the papparazzi and led them on a high speed chase, I think the blame should rest with him.If he was a trained security professional this was a serious breach of judgement and ethics.

It is ironic that the press is caught in the media frenzy that followed Diana's death and that the initial reports that the papparazzi caused her death may be presumptuous at best, and erroneous at worst.I say ironic because we live in an era of instantaneous information disseminated over television and radio; and first impressions leave strong opinions ( whether they are correct or not) This, combined with the human weakness to ascribe blame, caused a public to turn on the people whose fare they ravenously consume.

Let us not forget it is the public that creates the market for these photos of intimacy stolen from peoples private lives. As long as a market exists for photos and the prices are extraordinary (reaching into the millions) there will be photographers who take these photos not matter how unscrupulous they must pursue their victims.

The distinction which Dirck Halstead so aptly made (that there is a difference between the photographers who photograph executions and the papparazzi who feed the publics voracious appetite for scandal) is correct. In point of fact people don't want to see ( and therefor buy) photos of people starving or dying in some far off land. Photographers who cover wars, famine , and social injustice are starving to death; and they photograph these stories out of belief in their craft and the importance of their message. They are NOT governed by the crass dictates of money. Their photographs reveal the ugliness of humanity in order to try to raise the conciousness of all of us rather than raise capital by titilating audiences with views of how a few of the other half lives. Would that the outrage directed at the papparazzi be directed to the despots and tyrants who routinely kill thousands of people aound the world; In Rwanda, in Bosnia, in Cambodia, in Chinese Tibet. Where is the public outcry for this. Try to get a story published about hunger in America, or the the breakdown of the family structure taken from a photojournalists point of view. It is next to impossible. Try to sell some semi nudes of JFK Jr. and you will have the publishing and TV industry doing somersaults with their checkbooks. But they are not to blame. They provide what sells. We live in a world dominated not by ethics and morality but by the marketplace.

It is sad to think that there are worthy photojournalists out there who have had to become papparazzi in order to eat and pay rent. The true tragedy of our times is that people who buy papers and magazines don't want enlightened views and edifying photography they want base, cruel glimpses which undermine the very stars and celebrities they adore. Why don't great photographers like Larry Towell, James Nachtwey, and Gilles Perres get millions for their photographs which reveal more of the human condition and are infinitly more artfully executed than the grainy, out of focus super telephoto shots of the papparazi. Certainly it is not because of the photographic community's choices.

Finally we should try to keep a perspective on the media frenzy attached to any event and try to sort the truth from the half truths. We are journalists and I expect no less than we give our best at scrutiny, skepticism and research before arriving at conclusions.

-- Jay Colton (Jay_Colton@timemagazine.com), September 12, 1997


Jay Colton exonerates those editors and publishers who choose to publish the work of paparazzi photographers, blaming the amoral and impersonal marketplace instead (but he's really blaming consumers collectively). He writes:

>Try to sell some semi nudes of JFK Jr. and you will have the >publishing and TV industry doing somersaults with their checkbooks. >But they are not to blame. They provide what sells. We live in a >world dominated not by ethics and morality but by the marketplace.

but are editors and publishers automatons, responding to consumer preference like machines? Don't they also make moral and ethical decisions about what they publish, and what they don't?

Of course they do. Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times don't publish paparazzi photos. They choose not to. And they function in the same marketplace that the tabloids do. The publishers of the tabloids, of course, make a very different choice.

Still, those editors and publishers are making a choice. The marketplace is not forcing them to publish paparazzi photos. It may be tempting them to do so, but the choice is still theirs. To blame "the marketplace" is like saying "the devil makes them do it" and implies they lack free will. It's also like blaming the paparazzi photographers for "making" the limousine driver speed out of control.

The fact is that the marketplace doesn't dictate anything. Individuals--and that includes editors and publishers--still make choices, moral or not.

-- David Walker (dwalker@EPIX.NET), September 12, 1997.

There is more to this than meets the eye and phots. have just become a suitable and available target. Lets just re- focus for a moment and throw out some more strings. A white car that made contact with the merc. and was never found. Maybe Dodee Fayed was a target, the family is related to the Kashogi's and Mohamed Al Fayed has never been granted a British Passport despite his enormous wealth and owning Harrods store, Fulham football club, etc. even after bribing politicians he still keeps getting a No Way vote from somewhere...There must be a very strong reason. Also what was Diana without her photographers. She used us as much as we did her.Being chased by paperazzi was nothing new, it happened every day she knew it, and she used these periods to her best advantage to score points over other members of the royal family. And finally I wonder what was said in some circles when it became known that the mother of England's future king was about to get engaged to an egyptian playboy with dubious connections.

-- Derek Jackson (derekja@lineone.net), January 06, 1998.

Maybe what Di's death showed was different than "evil paparazi's killing beautiful princess"... One of the major mistakes that was made at the time of the incident was a missing to the presumtion of innocence, granted under French Law (Accused is deemed innocent until proven guilty by a jury ) .Sadly, this still seems to be the case . Rats don't have a glorious job, but the hypocrisy of mainstream press was astounding... Judging their peers (French paparrazis have a press card, issued by the French government, certifying them as journalists) without having any evidence whatsoever of their guilt was a shameful thing all editors should think over...

Maybe part of the answer to the value of stolen pictures is the "dream value" they have .It is undeniable a major part of the readership of "people " magazines (Gala, Ici Paris, People Weekly et al.), whose audience could (at least here (Switzerland) be summarized to working-class middle aged women who dream of being Diana, whose identification to a "star" presented as a semi-god or goddess by the media is very high... .The same can't be said of Salgado's gold workers or Nachtwey's Rwandan Children, for obvious reasons... The audience for those shots is different, marketing-wise... Probably men, educated, higher-income, with "room" to spare for the sadness of others, not through generosity but more condescendance...( And the genuine generosity, implication and ethics of both mentionned photographers should not be put in doubt, putting them on the same level as paparrazis would be an insult to a whole profession)

Sad thing to say, but both markets exist, and as long as they exist, one will sell better than the other, but the legacy of one will stay, whilst the other will be forgotten, overshadowed by another scandal...

-- Matt Bruggmann (vodoo@hotmail.com), February 19, 1998.

I think youre all a big bunch of mother fuckers...wanna kwon why? thanks to you ass holes the princess died . why dont you guys fuck youre selfs and get a real job!!!!

-- cristian romero (niselalleva@hotmail.com,), December 05, 2000.

It's actually very true. If we didn't pick up a magazine and look for 'Look what this Celebrity Did!' section we wouldn't have to worry about all this. Diana died after having a life ruled by the paparazzi. So at the end, she mentally died from them anyway. Even if the drunk driver had killed them, the paparazzi were responsible. But, there are photographers who are not stalkers and who actually snap for humanity, not for entertainment. I iwhs we had more of these type of people out there.

-- Hana Hashim (bobmynameis@hotmail.com), November 11, 2003.

what we should all be thinking of is her family especially princes,s william and harry, how would we feel if pictures of a loved one were to be published when at a time when most vunrable and when we should be giving them our compassion, princess di was the most photographed woman in the world when she was alive everything she did was seen by everyone of us let her have some privacy in her final miniuts, let her rest in peace, surely no normal person would want to look at such photo,s any way remember her as a beautiful woman in her prime of life god bless her an let her soul forever be at peace.

-- mrs christine harrison (chbigc@aol.com), April 22, 2004.

I work in L.A. i work as a freelance paprazzi photographer, both me and my girlfriend do, those paps where just doing their job, if they dot snap a picture they dont get paid, they wehere doing thier jobs just like you ad me so give them a break! fuck off! and leave us to do our jobs in peace!

-- Oliver John (ozzyjon@hotmail.com), December 16, 2004.

The only fucking reason Paparazzis exist is because there's a market for celebrity photography. The people who buy the magazines that publish celebrity pics are the people who keep the Paparazzis going. Not liking Paparazzis isn't a reason to blame them for things like Di's death so shut the fuck up and these artists work.

-- Bernard Schweitecken (Schweitecken@hotmail.com), January 09, 2005.

There are lots of factors in play the day of the crash. they say they were only doing their jobs,but there should be a line drawn to distinguish what is photography and when it becomes an invasion of personal privacy. There should be stricter guidlines on when and how photo's should be taken. One example comes to mind of a group of people who caused the death of countless people and excused it all by saying they were only doing their jobs,they were called NAZZI SS. Not all photographers are bad though,just the ones who have no shame or respect.

-- Billie J. Vester (Vesterbillie@Hotmail.com), February 01, 2005.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ