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Media members condemn paparazzi activities

The Sunday Telegraph August 31, 1997
Web posted at: 9:39 a.m. EDT (1339 GMT)

(CNN) -- The death of Princess Diana in a Paris car crash, apparently after being chased by paparazzi, cast a pall over journalism Sunday.

Journalists who spoke on CNN in the hours after the tragedy lashed out at the frenzied photographers who may have played a role in Diana's death, saying their actions contributed to a dark day in journalism.

Some urged that new privacy laws be enacted to curb the paparazzi, or free-lance photographers who stake out celebrities and whose photos command fat royalties. Cover photos of Diana for tabloids have fetched up to $200,000.

"(Diana) has been hounded literally to death," said Andrew Roberts of the Sunday London Times. "The fact we're hearing that a man actually took photographs of her dying in the car shows what scum these people are and how far they actually will go."   ( icon 264K/24 sec. AIFF or WAV sound )

Roberts predicted that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government might try to enact laws in the coming months to crack down on invasive media.

"We've got laws in this country to stop people from stalking. But we don't have a law to stop people from shoving camera lenses into your life constantly," Roberts told CNN.

Other journalists expressed similar disgust.

"What is (troubling) me as a journalist is the role which my much-maligned profession may have played in her death," said Sir Bernard Ingham, the press secretary for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.   ( icon 357K/32 sec. AIFF or WAV sound )

"I am afraid that we are going to get a reputation for hounding people to death."

Doctors said the 36-year-old princess died about four hours after the crash that also killed her companion, Dodi Fayed, and their chauffeur.

Seven photographers were in custody, police said. France Info radio said at least some of the photographers took pictures before help arrived -- and that one of the photographers was beaten at the scene by horrified witnesses.

"There will be a furious debate about the role of the press in Princess Diana's life over the past 15 years. No doubt a large majority of the public will take a fairly dim view of the press activities," said Greg Swift of The Daily Express.   ( icon 332K/30 sec. AIFF or WAV sound )


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