Friday, 31 August 2007

Ten years on

Diana tribute at park house, Sandringham, Norfolk

Ten years. Yes, a full decade has passed since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in the tunnel in Paris. In those ten years we have seen the media and public demand for news stories and images connected to the stars soar beyond anything seen in 1997. I'd like to think that the world learned lessons from the death of the such an important figure but ten years on it seems it isn't the case.

In 1997 we started to see the rise of celebrity culture that began, innocuously enough, with the social magazines like OK and Hello but eventually led on to the celebrity fueled media monster that we know today. The celebrity magazine market has more than doubled in five years to be worth £300 million. Sales for the top two magazines, Closer and Heat, rose in 2005/06 by 5.4% and 4.1%*, respectively. Both magazines sell a staggering 600,000 copies per week. The celeb magazines are having to change as the market reaches saturation point but they will still continue to use celebrity images as a selling tool. Ten years ago it was a rather different story.

In the days and weeks after Diana's death, the public turned on the press and especially the paparazzi photographers in the hunt to blame someone for the death of the princess. I have no doubt that the paparazzi were responsible for causing the Princess much distress but the arguments put forward about press intrusion by many over the years ignore one key fact. Paparazzi photos pay and pay well! Even more so in the 21st century than it did ten years ago.

Ten years on i would like to think that we learnt our lessons from the treatment of Diana but it seems that the public and media have short memories. The same people who shouted down the paparazzi are now the ones who buy Heat, Closer or one of the tabloid newspapers. The hatred shown towards the paparazzi hasn't completely gone, but they seem to be have become an accepted part of 21st century life; the price one pays for fame. The recent debacle with Kate Middleton has only reinforced my believe that the media is starting to creep back into its old ways. Why fifty photographers have to wait outside Kate Middleton's house when two could easily get the shots required is beyond me. Maybe its the money talking again. As long as the market for celebrity images stays lucrative, the paparazzi will flourish and continue to deliver the images the public demand.

*Magazine statistics via Timesonline.co.uk

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