No, I’m not referring to the Lady Gaga song, (although it is catchy). I’m referring to those incessant abusers of freedom of the press that constantly harass celebrities. Those people who seem to think they’re photographers. Honestly, you don’t need a whole lot of technological skill to be a modern paparazzo, your most valued trait is aggression, and maybe also not being afraid to spend a night in jail.
But it’s more than their aggressive tactics and harassment that gives them a bad name. It’s also their ability to influence a person’s reputation. By simply snapping a shot of a person in what they believe to be a private moment, their entire image can be damaged or simply altered. To celebrities, this is annoying and frustrating. But what it means for the general public is that these photos may be altering the truth. Catching a moment of someone’s time at a distance doesn’t necessarily mean evidence. Something that may look like an illegal substance on someone’s nose may actually be something as innocent as powdered sugar. But the paparazzi look for anything that could possibly be construed or mistaken for something more scandalous than it actually is. They could care less about informing viewers.
The reason why paparazzi do this is simple: profit. The more famous the celebrity, the more compromising the situation, the more bank they make. When gossip rags offer obscene payments based on how scandalous a photo is, the only motivation the paparazzo has is to make the most money possible. Thus, they do practically anything within their power to capture or fabricate a juicy photo of an A-list celeb. Photojournalists on the other hand, are not given an incentive to make every celebrity look like a crack whore. They are not paid more the more salacious the photo, they simply have to report the truth, and negative consequences occur if they don’t fact check and/or lie about an image. That ruins their reputation. So their incentive is generally to be truthful, because the risk of losing their livelihood, (because who’s going to hire a lying journalist?) is too great.
So before you pick up a glossy mag with dramatic red type splattered across an unflattering photo, think about the motivations behind that photo, and how your purchase is benefiting the practice. And please, don’t equate a photojournalist with a paparazzo, it’s insulting for obvious reasons and may just tarnish their reputation.