Diana 1961-1997: The media - Don't shoot the messenger; look to yoursel f

Brian Harris, Independent photographer, says that readers always get the press they deserve

Brian Harris
Monday 01 September 1997 00:02 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


As a news photographer, I cannot condone the methods employed by the paparazzi but I do understand their motives. I have tried throughout my working life to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, of integrity and honesty.

I, along with many of my colleagues, don't like to be tarred with the same brush as the "paps". This morning outside Buckingham Palace we press photographers had to endure the public's anger and outrage.

The tragic death of a 36-year-old mother of two teenage boys, her boyfriend and his chauffeur, happened yesterday morning because we the reading public demanded yet more and more arresting and compromising images of one of the world's most famous people.

We the public didn't stop buying the tabloids when Diana was on the front page; instead we bought more and more. Sales of these papers soared as a result.

In short, the Princess sold papers and magazines in their millions all over the world. Publishers made colossal sums of money out of these sales, editors commanded huge salaries if their circulation was high, and the photographers who provided the images could make a very good living. And of course the readers were happy. (Otherwise why carry on buying the product?). Our hands were clean, no blood here.

In fact, we are all responsible for this tragedy. The readers, the journalists, the photographers and the newspaper proprietors must bear some of the blame for the deaths in Paris yesterday morning. As Lord Beaverbrook, one-time owner of the Daily Express once said, "The public gets the press it deserves."

Don't shoot the messenger, in this case the press photographers; instead look to yourselves. I know we in the media will be doing exactly that over the days and weeks to come.

If any good can come out of this tragedy, it will be a full and open debate on proposed privacy laws and if they were to come in to effect, at least we in the media would know where we stand from a legal point of view.

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