Volume 91, Issue 13

Thursday, September 18, 1997




A delicate pastry. An opera singer. Something served up from Sammy Souvlaki's menu.


A few weeks ago, most students had probably not heard of the word – a name which is now synonymous with greed, hate and a world in mourning.

When Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car accident Aug. 31, the public blamed the paparazzi – the photo entourage who were chasing her car, trying to snap the latest in a series of intrusive pictures of her with a new beau. As public anger mounted in the events that followed, facts were dismissed, such as the drivers' high blood-alcohol level, his lack of chauffeur experience and the excessive speed the car was going through a tunnel in the middle of Paris.

Whether the paparazzi had a direct impact on the car crash and subsequent death of Diana is still in the hands of French investigators. What is clear, however, is that a tremendous backlash against mainstream media built up and it does not show signs of going away.

Paparazzi are freelance photographers and they sell their photos to the highest bidder. The most intimate and controversial are bought for thousands of dollars by tabloids to satisfy the public's insatiable desire for details of famous personalities' lives.

But the paparazzi label does not apply to photographers who are employed by mainstream newspapers to snap everything from kitchen fires to local press conferences. These photographers are out to get a story, not the insignificant private moments of big-time celebrities.

The label has been attached to everything from the CBC to this volunteer student newspaper. Writers were called "Paparazzi-wannabes" in these pages and the term was used most recently yesterday, when a photographer was accused at the scene of an assault in the University Community Centre where the Emergency Response Team was aiding the victim.

The term is now used so loosely it would not be surprising if passport photographers were labelled with the name and National Geographic photographers were called paparazzi by wild geese and cheetahs.

Photos breathe life into stories. They capture scenes that can sum up emotions, feelings and moods. Whether it is a fireman holding the limp body of a dying infant in Oklahoma City or a young soldier standing face-to-face with a Native Canadian in Oka, pictures are often remembered long after the words.

And papers would have fewer words without pictures.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997