Privacy

The Paparazzi who contributed to Diana's fatal car crash are also a lethal enemy of a free press.

By distorting the meaning of the word "news," they not only undermine public distrust in the messenger of useful information; they provide a convenient excuse for dictators, corrupt politicians, and charlatans of various types to challenge legitimate investigation of the people's business.

That phrase "the people's business" defines, in fact, a dividing line between the yellow journalism of the paparazzi and the reality of the serious media.

The people's business includes the work of those who write and enforce our laws, who manufacture and harvest the stuff we consume in our daily lives, who lead or mislead us, who make discoveries, who publicly entertain us. In short, those who voluntarily enter the public realm.

But when photographers - and writers and editors - intrude on lives with intent to malign, invade, distort, or exaggerate, they lose the right to claim they are just engaging in journalism. The public correctly suspects their motives all the more when their principal - sometimes only - aim is the million dollar payoff.

True, Diana passed from anger to despair to a resolve to make use of intruding photographers to publicize causes she believed in. But her decision did not blur the line between public events and personal and family privacy. And it was certainly not a license to invade.

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