THE PRINCESS AND THE PRESS
September 2, 1997
In the wake of Princess Diana's death, the media has come under fire for its increasingly intrusive coverage of celebrities. When does news gathering go too far? After this backgrounder by Tom Bearden, Jim Lehrer leads a discussion with four journalists.
TOM BEARDEN: Diana Spencer spent most of her adult life surrounded by the paparazzi--the ever-present, ever-clicking photographers who lived for the perfect shot of the glamorous princess. Paparazzi is an Italian word and translates as "buzzing insects." It was first used in Italian director Federico Fellini's film, "La Dolce Vita," which included a photographer named Paparazzo. They were there for her engagement at the age of 19--her storybook wedding in 1981 --the birth of her sons. They photographed the elegance of royal life--the charities--and the ugly divorce. She said they tormented her.
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
September 2, 1997:
Jim Lehrer leads a discussion on the intrusive nature of press.
September 1, 1997:
Jim Lehrer gets five different views on the life and the death of Diana.
For full coverage of Diana's death and the investigation visit the ITN Web site.
The official Web site established by the Royal Family.
PRINCESS DIANA: But now I can't tolerate it because it's become abusive, and it's harassment. But I don't want to be seen to indulging in self-pity. I'm not. I understand they have a job to do. And they all shout at me, telling me that, "Come on Di, look up, if you give us a picture, I can get my children to a better school." And you know, you can laugh it off, but you get that the whole time.
TOM BEARDEN: Some of the paparazzi work for photographic agencies that market the pictures around the world. Others are freelancers. Some aren't even professional photographers, but amateurs trying to make some money--like William Stenning, a former motorbike courier. Diana obtained an injunction that prevented him from coming within 1,000 feet of her because she said he was stalking her. And there is money to be made--a lot of money. The estimates of how much photos of Diana were worth fluctuate wildly--from $100,000 up $6 million for pictures of the accident that killed her. Compromising and unflattering pictures are worth more. Observers say these ever-escalating prices have turned the paparazzi into the Stalkerazzie--who deliberately try to enrage their subjects.
A new, more aggressive breed of paparazzi.
MR. KOSS, EDITOR, NATIONAL ENQUIRER: Well, what we're seeing is the new breed of stalking paparazzi at work. It's something that's been growing in the past several months and started last year. It's a whole new breed of incredibly aggressive paparazzis. They're willing to get involved in any ugly incident. Last year, we recognized this was happening and tried as best we could to distance ourselves and not buy their photos.
TOM BEARDEN: But other publications still pay handsomely for pictures not just of royalty, but of anybody famous--particularly movie stars. Alec Baldwin sprayed shaving cream on the windows of a photographer's truck to prevent him from taking pictures--then punched him. Baldwin was acquitted of assault charges. Paparazzi helicopters disrupted Sean Penn's wedding to Madonna. One photographer went so far as to parachute into Liz Taylor's birthday party. And paparazzi have been hounding John F. Kennedy, Jr. since his marriage to Carolyn Besset.
CINDY CRAWFORD: They'll do anything, I mean literally, I've had people crawling over my fences of my house, or shooting me in the bathroom of my house, from another island with a huge lens, and I don't want to have to close my house and live in a black hole, but I would like to be able to go to the toilet privately, so I think that, yes, there's definitely--the paparazzi have gotten out of control.
TOM BEARDEN: A lot of people seem to agree. Many are calling for restrictions on the paparazzi they blame for Diana's death. But photographer Mark Saunders, who followed Diana for several years, says there's plenty of blame to go around.
MARK SAUNDERS, Photographer: If there's any sort of guilt around this awful incident, it's got to be a collective guilt throughout the world, because the paparazzi supplied the pictures, the world demanded the pictures, and every single magazine and newspaper in America last week had the Di and Dodi story, them on the yacht together, you know, Diana has found love at last, it was the dream ending I know America wanted, and certainly we loved it here in England, but that is the point, we all loved the story, we loved the character, we loved the fairy tale.
TOM BEARDEN: Meanwhile, all seven photographers arrested at the scene of the accident have been held for investigation--the equivalent of being charge with a crime under French law.