Author Topic: Paparazzi: Pests or Journalists?  (Read 4287 times)


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Paparazzi: Pests or Journalists?
« on: July 01, 2011, 02:29:22 pm »
First off, I confess that I have read magazines and watched television programs that have shown paparazzi photos.  However, I still do not approve of their methods, which perhaps makes me something of a hypocrite.  Nonetheless, it's pretty incredible that paparazzi get "free passes" to follow and photograph celebrities, with few limits.  If I were to get super-close to a celebrity, take several photos and later post them on my Facebook page, I would be sued and/or arrested.  A paparazzo can get away with this harassment under the pretense of tabloid journalism.  Does this make sense to you, or should paparazzi  held to the same laws as non-journalists?  Yes, even if aggressive paparazzi tactics (such as swarming a celebrity when he or she walks out of a building, and not stopping photography or interrogations until the car drives away) were outlawed, paparazzi would still practice such tactics.  However, if police seriously pursued over-aggressive paparazzi, perhaps some paparazzi networks would accordingly adjust their standards.  You'd still have the freelance photographers, but if those freelancers were not considered to be tabloid journalists, police should be able to arrest them on the spot.  Any thoughts?


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Re: Paparazzi: Pests or Journalists?
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2011, 12:45:21 am »
My opinion is pretty much the same, why treat papparazi any different from other stalkers?
Everyone has a right to privacy, if some of them do outrageous things in private, that's a legal matter first and journalistic interest second.
I for one blame the tabloids a lot for many failed celebrities, mostly because many of their ailments are obviously stress induced.


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Re: Paparazzi: Pests or Journalists?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2011, 12:58:52 am »
This is a fairly good article on the topic:

Some of the quotes:
Right of Privacy
The laws on the right of privacy vary from country to country. Under U.S. law, the right of privacy is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as:
1.The right to personal autonomy. The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly provide for a right of privacy or for a general right of personal autonomy, but the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that a right of personal autonomy is implied in the "zones of privacy" created by specific constitutional guarantees.
2.The right of a person and the person's property to be free from unwarranted public scrutiny or exposure. -- Also termed right to privacy.

So, if we are to understand that the law upholds our right to be "free from unwarranted public scrutiny or exposure," then it would seem paparazzi are not allowed to do what they do. There is, however, a loophole in the law. This loophole comes into the picture if you are legally defined as a public figure.

Public Figures
Celebrities, public officials and private citizens involved in newsworthy incidences are all legally defined as public figures. Public figures actually have far fewer rights to privacy than an "ordinary person." Public figures break down into three types:
 ?Public figure: A person who has achieved fame or notoriety or who has voluntarily become involved in a public controversy. A public figure (or public official) suing for defamation must prove that the defendant acted with actual malice.
 Example: Movie stars like Brad Pitt or Gwyneth Paltrow fall into this category.
?All-purpose public figure: A person who achieves such pervasive fame or notoriety that he or she becomes a public figure for all purposes and in all contexts. For example, a person who occupies a position with great persuasive power and influence may become an all-purpose public figure, whether or not the person actively seeks attention.
 Example: A company executive such as Michael Eisner or a politician like George W. Bush fall into this category.
?Limited-purpose public figure: A person who, having become involved in a particular public issue, has achieved fame or notoriety only in relation to that particular issue.
 Example: People involved in a controversy, such as the parents of JonBenet Ramsey, fall into this category.

These exclusions of the law give the paparazzi their rights. That is not to say that paparazzi don't break laws in the pursuit of a shot. But as long as there is a high demand for what they do, breaking the law becomes an acceptable risk. Us Weekly's editor-in-chief, Janice Min, says, "A celebrity is like an elected official. If you're getting paid $20 million a movie, you have to rely on public goodwill to stay in office. You have to accept the fact that you're a public commodity."

The controversy surrounding anti-paparazzi legislation is the question of where to draw the line between legitimate newsgathering and invasions of privacy. If laws are left as they are, a celebrity's privacy and, in some cases, his or her life will continue to be endangered by the ruthlessness of some photographers. On the other hand, if the laws become too restrictive then the freedom of the press could be jeopardized. The solution remains unclear.

So the question arises -- what is the source of the problem? While the tactics of paparazzi are repellent to most people, the same people clamber to buy magazines that carry such photos. Are paparazzi the problem or merely a symptom of a voyeuristic society?

Generally I like to think of politicians when I think of these laws since there's much less chance of sympathy coming into play.  Its also good to think that if you're giving a certain law to protect celebrities from journalistic scrutiny, am I happy with politicians having that same protection.  In both cases, their living is highly dictated by their public image together with the quality of their work, and while celebrities and politicians alike, would love to control their public image and portray themselves as they wish, obviously thats not presently the case.

Obviously people have a certain right to privacy, but a politician has put themselves in the public light voluntarily and its taken in law that they've effectively waved certain rights to privacy in other parts of their life by doing so.  Just as a politician can't control the publication of information about their dealings with criminals or extra-marital relationships discovered through legal, investigative journalism, so to are they unable to control the publication of photographs taken of them with criminals or in the embrace of a lover.

One thing that often disturbs me is the children.  Even in the case of politicians, I don't believe that just because a politician has made themselves a public figure, means that their children are automatically in the spotlight.  I'm all for a child to remain anonymous, even in the case of crimes where other juveniles currently enjoy press censorship.  If a journalist takes a photo of a politician and their child, without permission and publishes it with no censorship of the child's face then they should be charged for it. I guess if a politician puts their child in the public eye then that would be construed as the guardian of the child waving their right to privacy.

I'm not sure about the provocation that some journalists use to get a public figure angry and take a snapshot.  If there's physical provocation including, persistently blocking a politician's path or preventing them from closing their car, home or office door, purposely flashing bright lights in their eyes, etc then I'd regard it as illegal activity. However, if we're talking about name calling and such, I'd say its distasteful but not necessarily illegal for them to be "having a go at" a politician over prior comments they've made, previous relationships, current activity and/or views to photograph or record their reactions.


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Re: Paparazzi: Pests or Journalists?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2011, 03:13:08 am »
Is "Parasite" an option to choose here?