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Previous | Next :: British Press Photographers with Miss World : London | February 26, 2007, 10:59 am

British Press Photographers with Miss World : London
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I shot this about 10 years ago on E6 for the UK Guardian's Magazine. I was trying to think if Id ever photographed paparazzi guys working.....this is about as close as I had got on my files.

Sympathy for the devil #2 : British Tabloid Hacks

I wrote something a little while back that was sympathizing with a Reuters photographer accused of "faking" pictures from last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah he had been roundly abused and totally disowned by all...I had a sneaking sympathy with him...... and just the slight hint of a sensation that there was some blame should be laid at Reuters door..... so that was sympathy for the devil #1.....

Now I can't help but have some sympathy for the tabloid journalists of Britain (hence Sympathy for the devil #2) ...... again they have been condemned by all and sundry...... and its not like I really like those tabloids or read them ever ......I really hardly ever looked at the Tab's and I certainly never worked with The Sun, The Star, The Mirror or The Sport or indeed their Sunday sisters... The news of the World, The Sunday Mirror, Sunday Sport [By way of full disclosure.....I did work with many leading newspapers in Britain...... The Observer,The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Sunday Times ,The Correspondent (defunct), The News on Sunday(defunct),the closest I ever got to working with a real tabloid was stuff I did for the Mail...... and I worked extensively for the Mail on Sunday's Night and Day magazine I did serious photojournalism for that magazine across the globe]..... so I am a serious photojournalist.......... in the past I have worked in Bosnia, Gaza, Rwanda, South Africa, Northern Ireland, etc etc etc....... I have every right to view the paparazzi photographers and their written journalist counterparts with the same contempt that many in my end of the profession view some how weirdly I do not.

News gathering in the public interest and news gathering in areas that really interest the public are not the same but they require the same tenacity and sometimes deception and other mechanisms. These methods allow the light of public scrutiny to be shone on activities and events some people are attempting to keep hidden. If its the fact that two stars are out in a club together who cares......if you end up with 'follow the money' kind of revelations that threaten to impeach the President its very important. My view is that an open society probably needs less of the former and plenty of facility for the latter....... but you do not want to go slashing at the right to do the former because you will be closing down facility for the latter.

Lots of people become very animated and angry when they discuss the Paparazzi they are outraged by particular images that I am almost never aware of. They are reading the magazines that are paying for this stuff. I am not.

I do not know who is dating who, and who the 'It girls' are i just am not interested. I am not particularly bothered by most peoples interest......but most people are interested..... look at the huge sales those magazines and tabloids are making... many many more people are interested in photographs of Jessica Simpson or Britney and relatively fewer are interested in photographs from Darfur or Iraq. Its a fact of life.

These tabloid journalists and their paparazzi colleges are producing stories and pictures the public are hugely interested in....... its not really in the public interest but it is interesting to the public.

Who is it featured in these pictures and stories......oh........ the usual bad boy/girl actors and their wives/husbands and girl/boy-friends....... their male/female costars ........and the usual bad boy/bad girl pop-stars and their crew....... these are people who have paid their publicists to help generate their fame......and sometimes it seems they cannot control their fame and manipulate their media image the way they want too........ sometimes things they are actually doing but would rather people did not see..... are there on display in think people who make really huge amounts of money by being famous have to take the draw backs of being famous along with the glory and the cash.

To make special laws to protect these wealthy few is madness. To avoid trouble with the paparazzi those guys can stay in........ or not drink to excess or just stand politely and have their pictures taken...... why not? Why try and stop people taking their pictures? Why should newspapers only be fed the official publicity images. People who make a living by generating media and public interest in themselves should not expect to have absolute control over when the media is interested in them.... why should they have that? Why should images of them be different from other news worthy people? Why do they have to make every last penny out of photographs that are taken of them? Why shouldn't there be a real view of them, supplied by independents, not just the airbrushed controlled carefully manipulated view sent out by their own publicity apparatus.

Publicists of the stars only allow controlled access to their engineered product, they only allow certain journalists to interview their stars, people who will write what the publicity gurus and the star want to hear and see in the media.

The publicists only allow certain photographers to make photographs of their stars.... the photographers that allow the publicist and star to choose/approve and control the pictures that will be used. A magazine is granted an interview.....well sort of.... because.... the publicist gets to give the OK on who is writing it ....... and who is shooting the pictures, sure the magazine is paying for it all, but how is this different from a straight advertisement for the stars latest film? Because the publicists are controlling what is written and seen on the page not the magazine if the magazine will not play ball the interview arrangement will be withdrawn.

Why should pop stars and film stars have free advertising controlled by them but jazzed up to look like editorial when it's actually not journalism at all.

Any law to specifically limit the activities of paparazzi and tabloid journalists always limits the power of the press to work on public interest stories of real importance. Thomas Jefferson rated a free press of even more importance than the type of government......Im not sure I want to argue that precisely because it is all linked..... but certainly an open society needs a free press and is largely defined by having a free press.

In someways I was always proud of the vicious take no prisoners British newspapers.......... they are not deferential to anyone and are red in tooth and is arguable that they breed a climate of cynicism in Britain......but it is not arguable that collectively they are in the pocket of the Government or big business interests or the Trade Unions or other special interests groups even the entertainment business. They are a power base unto themselves they find the stories that need to be found. They are certainly a real check on any kind of government abuse or failure. They also delve into the personal lives of famous people. People who have elected to make a living through public exposure....... mostly TV, music and film stars and of course the British Royals whose birth right is a life of privilege at the publics expense and of course public exposure.

The royal reporter/editor on the News of the world, Clive Goodman has been sent to prison......... for listening to Prince Williams private cell phone messages.......I was discussing it with a taxi driver in DC a man from Ethiopia he laughed and said he thought he would have been executed. Nobody goes to prison for these kind of breaches in Britain but the law has been especially manipulated to send him to prison. New law is being rushed through to give 2 years in jail to any journalist caught breaching a persons privacy in this way. Good..... well er...... proper protection for this hugely privileged individual living in luxury at the publics expense. It should protect him from having any more true stories he would rather keep hidden appearing in tabloid newspapers. Of course a very few massively rich pop stars and the like will benefit too......oh yeah and anyone running a scam with public money or bribing public officials, manipulating voting, running illegal cartels or protection rackets or illegal dog fighting or illegal prostitution rings that exploit trafficked women from overseas, people running racist Neo-nazi organizations. Banks investing in fascist exploitative regimes. Companies breaking health and safety laws, people exploiting the labour of illegal immigrants, corrupt police, drug smugglers, companies illegally polluting rivers........ er.... terrorists. You know....... everybody who would not want any interference or exposure by Journalists.

Journalists do not necessarily behave politely and the best journalism is not polite. Not polite to abusers or wrong doers whether they are individuals or corporations and governments. I am not arguing all journalists doing anything should be above the law but to manipulate the law specifically to put journalists in prison? A friend of mine wrote to me recently about what he perceived as the end of freedom in America..... at least America has specific law to protect journalists...... but even here....... the Scooter Libby trial shows how specific freedom for journalists not to reveal sources and other protection necessary for a free press are under attack. New proposals in Britain revolve around photographers requiring identity cards to photograph in public places.....? Lets not go down this route so much ordinary freedom and public right to scrutiny will be lost ........ and why is it even being considered? To protect a few score ultra wealthy people who have made their wealth through manipulating their fame and want to be able to control their fame completely. Lets not give them their wish and in the process damage our own ordinary freedoms and our free press.

Lets not push for more erosion of press freedom. If we are upset by the paparazzi or tabloid journalism lets just stop buying those junk magazines and papers that serve it up.

A few days after the death of Princess Diana a woman, in London, clutching a poster of Di berated me tearfully for 'killing our princess' ....... er?...... because I was a man with two cameras. I felt like pointing out that a drunken driver employee of Dodi Al Fayed had killed her and if she felt that the presence of some paparazzi types that evening had contributed to the drunk driver's stupid accident, she should stop buying the memorial posters she was clutching. The image on it was made by the one mega smart sort-of-paparazzi bloke I actually know personally...... who is a multi millionaire..... thanks to that poster clutching woman and millions of celebrity worshipers like her..... who have paid for his activities over the years. I should have told her ........ I didn't shoot that stuff and I didn't pay for it either........It wasn't me that did it...... it was she herself.......... and others like her that financed it all.

Cheers Jez XX

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