Paparazzi can burn in hell; press will take notes

In Opinion
1998 Archive Correspondent zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Two photographers, Giles Harrison and Andrew O'Brien, recently received prison sentences for chasing Arnold Schwartzenegger and Maria Shriver as they drove their son to school. As an aspiring journalist-to-be and defender of the First Amendment, I have only one thing to say: good. They should also be forced to watch "Twins" until their eyes pop out or they go insane, whichever comes first.

Is the First Amendment important? Hell, yea! It's so important because it allows me to write things like, 'hell, yes.' It's so important because it allows you to write in and complain about my using the word 'hell.'

But should journalists, and I use the term very loosely when referring to the above jokers, be allowed to pursue and chase whomever they want? Ask Princess Diana.

Oh, wait, you can't. Ask someone else in the royal family. Or ask Arnold Schwartzenegger. Or ask your neighbor. It's very likely that they all will agree that chasing after someone famous is not necessarily journalism. Sometimes, it can be considered stalking.

Jackie Onassis had to have a restraining order placed on the photographer following her. He could not come within a certain distance from her, which probably meant he had to start using a telephoto lens. I'm sure that having to stay a certain number of feet away from Jackie probably was an inconvenience for him, but, on the other hand, having a photographer five feet away taking pictures of you while you're eating your Grapenuts is probably pretty inconvenient, also.

I understand that celebrities give up some of their rights when they become famous. I can see journalists taking pictures of celebrities, because that”s where the news is. A person may not be a true celebrity in the sense that they were unwillingly thrust in the spotlight, like Monica Lewinsky's parents, but they have to accept that given who they are, they are worth a front page.

The press tells us that we the people want exposes and pictures of celebrities. I agree, I think we do.

However in the case mentioned above, the photographers were interested in photos of Arnold Schwartzenegger after he had heart-valve surgery. The photos could have been taken at just about any time after the surgery. The photos could have been taken at just about any time after the surgery. I could see taking pictures if Arnold were beating up Maria, or, more interestingly and newsworthy, pictures of Maria beating up Arnold. That would be worth seeing.

But pictures of Arnold that could be taken any time after the surgery are not worth seeing. The photographers were trying to be the first to get pictures of a man who had just had heart heart surgery, but what was the news value of the photos?

Take a picture of Arnold after the surgery. Compare it to a photo taken a few months before the surgery. Could many people tell the difference? In fact, you probably could switch the before and after photos around and most Americans could probably not tell you which photo was which. Now, if you threw a "Conan" photo in the mix, and yes, people could probably pick that one out. Or they just might think Arnold had not taken a bath in months.

I strongly believe that a story should be newsworthy in order to be on the news, hence the term "newsworthy." I don't think the term "news" means what it used to mean; I just wish I could have been around to see what news once meant. Oh, Walter Cronkite, we hardly knew ye.

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