press reactions

Boston Herald by Monica Collins
"In a timely and compelling documentary, PBS' FRONTLINE examines "The Princess and the Press." An absorbing examination of public images and the private machinations to maintain those facades, the film takes a hard look at how the press came to rule Britain's royal family--with Diana becoming the jewel in that crown."

"...Even though you might have heard all of this before, the FRONTLINE examination is powerful. So much because the documentary amasses all the information--complete with interviews from many Fleet Street principals--and builds a strong, dramatic story of this unfortunate woman and her dangerous tactics in the fame game."

"...'The Princess and the Press' will satisfy the Diana craving. On the basest level, the documentary exploits the princess yet again. But there's much to ponder here--for journalists, and for those who criticize the swarm media mentality."

Atlanta Journal Constitution by Phil Kloer "Normally, PBS's FRONTLINE is a welcome antidote to these distressing trends, rolling out thoughtful in-depth documentaries that frame issues in the necessary context. But that's hardly the case with "The Princess and the Press."

"...Covering ground that was thoroughly tilled during the Great Diana Media Wallow of September, "P&P's" thesis is that the Princess of Wales grew from being a naive victim of the tabloids into a savvier woman who was a victim part of the time, but also a manipulator. The evidence for this was aired ad infinitum previously. .

Sorry, but it didn't wash then, and even strung out to 90 minutes now, it hasn't gained any credibility. While there may be a shred of truth to the argument, there's a much stronger stench of an embarrassed British press, both tabloid and mainstream, protesting that it really wasn't their fault.

FRONTLINE usually plays several levels about this shallow level of muddy thinking and regurgitated analysis.

Boston Globe by Don Aucoin "The pitiless conclusion of FRONTLINE 's 'The Princess and the Press' is that Diana 'played a dangerous game, and she lost.' True enough, though the heart still cracks to see how the demurely downcast eyes of 19-year-old Diana Spencer became the beseeching eyes of a media quarry.

But eerily fascinating thing about this documentary is that it suggests there was a fatefulness, almost an inevitability, to Diana's tragedy."

"Whatever Diana's degree of complicity in the media dance, viewers will likely get a queasy feeling at the sight of a vulnerable woman being stalked by packs of photographers, almost all of them men. (And isn't it odd how little the male-female power dynamic has been remarked upon in all the Diana stories?)

Fittingly, and no doubt deliberately, one of the final images of 'The Princess and the Press' is of Diana's casket being transported through darkened streets, illuminated by the glare of countless flashbulbs."

New York Times by Walter Goodman "In need of another Diana fix? Tonight's supplier is not your common news magazine, but the usually upright FRONTLINE . The pretext for 'The Princess and the Press' is an investigation of the relationship between the Princess of Wales and Britain's tabloids. If that sounds a little familiar, well, after the Anglo-American gush set off by Diana's death, what about her isn't familiar?"

"...It is easier to understand why the British press and much of American television should go gaga over the Diana saga than why FRONTLINE should belatedly contribute. For all the reporting, the program is not particularly revealing with its by-now-familiar Diana pictures and gossip that have already clogged up so many hours of tube time. 'The Princess and the Press' a paltry sort of journalism. The Princess has seduced FRONTLINE. Can the nanny be far behind?

Newsday (Long Island, NY) by Verne Gay "'The Princess and the Press' a testament to the ultimate in mutually destructive relationships, we are not talking about the one between Diana and Charles (or the Queen), but between Diana and the Fleet Street. At her death, Diana was the most famous woman in the world, yet such renown in the media-drunk late 20th Century has--shall we say--its own peculiar drawbacks. Meanwhile, one simply shudders to imagine the dramatic circulation declines threatening England's tabloids now that their favorite subject is dead and buried..

Anyone who is not moved by Diana's plight during tonight's program is a stone-hearted miscreant. But beware. If it's villains you want, 'The Princess and the Press' will disappoint, because this intelligent and thoughtful program gives a body blow to the theory many people have taken for granted, namely that Di was killed by the press. Instead, FRONTLINE drops a step back to ask this crucial question: What, exactly, was Diana's role in this 'doomed embrace' . The answer will provide cold comfort to her bereaved fans.

USA Today by Matt Roush "FRONTLINE in an attempt to deliver good journalism about a tawdry subculture of journalism, takes the long view, tracking the evolving nature of the royal family's often muddy relationship with the papers and photographers. No one emerges shining from this gossipy game of give and take."

"...There are few surprises in this investigation of which side used the press when, but it is helpful to be reminded in no uncertain terms that there are limitations to public-relations spin. Where 'The Princess and the Press' is most lacking is in any analysis of why Diana's story registered so deeply with us, even before its unhappily-ever-after conclusion.

Orlando Sentinel by Hal Boedeker "'The Princess and the Press' is after more than just royal dirt, Diana glorification or paparazzi bashing. Rather, it explains the media fascination with her and the complicated, sometimes mutually beneficial dance between Diana and the press.

As such, the report reflects well on no one, no Diana, Prince Charles, the media or the public that lapped up every detail. This may not be what Diana groupies want, but it's a perspective that this widely reported story needed."

Miami Herald by Ron Miller "The 90-minute report also reminds us that Diana's love/hate relationship with the press led her to frequently use and exploit its power to influence minds. It stops short of calling her a tease who finally worked the pack up to a lather she couldn't control, but it certainly doesn't find her blameless.

Oddly, the program, called 'The Princess and the Press,' really doesn't spend any time investigating the role of the tabloid photographers in the Paris car crash that took Diana's life, so those expecting the usual FRONTLINE revelations will be disappointed."

"...Yet FRONTLINE reminds us that long after the marriage was over, Diana commonly used 'exclusive' interviews with tabloid papers to settle scores with Charles and the queen and frequently solicited press coverage to promote her many causes. Her scandalous biography by Andrew Morton, with whom she cooperated, was even serialized in a Murdoch tabloid.

Was that enough to suggest Diana deserved what she ultimately got--a life as the prey of the media? I don't think so, but the FRONTLINE  report comes close to embracing that outlook."

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