Hot Potato: Food for Thought
The Princess and the Paparazzi
Muzzling the Hounds
1997 September 09
Tuesday, EXTRA!
Since the tragic death of Princess Diana, reining in the paparazzi has received much discussion. Most commentators are aware of the risks of chilling the freedom of the press, and most of the discussion has gone no farther than the hope that editors will be more responsible in the wake of the tragedy. Maybe they will, for a while, but the economic incentive to publish sensational photographs is probably irresistible in the long term, and another solution is needed.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution which does not chill legitimate journalism. A Web site would be established on the Internet. Celebrities could add their photographs to the site and list the dates and times at which they would permit themselves to be photographed for publication. Any newspaper or magazine which published a photograph taken outside of the permitted times would be fined an amount equal to the total sales of that particular issue. There would no longer be any incentive to publish photographs taken during private times. New legislation would be needed in countries with active gutter presses, and this may now be possible given the urge to protect the young princes from the paparazzi.

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