Tuesday 12 July 2011

Public interest?

The News of the World thing is of course only the tip of the iceberg; more and more things are now coming to light, and it seems that other tabloids are implicated.

There's a world of difference between what is in the public interests (MPs's expenses; after all, it's our money they're spending), and what the public are interested in (horrific diseases and accidents, horrible things happening to famous people etc). That the second appears to be more entertaining (in a nasty, salacious kind of way) than the former is not the point; we don't NEED to know whether or not Kate's grandfather was a window cleaner.

And then there's the bit in between; things we don't need to know, but in a way are entitled to know, because the people involved have, as it were, invited us into their lives. There are many "celebrities" who do just that. They court public attention when they want it, and while it doesn't exactly bring out the best in the public when the press revel in the marital break-ups or the perceived cellulite of these people, they have more or less asked for it. And if you're going to call your poor wretched child Harper Seven, people are bound to, well, notice, aren't they? Complaining about press interest in these cases would be like inviting people round to your house, and then slamming the door in their faces. You either want publicity, or you don't. Presumably you have to take the rough with the smooth.

On the other hand, there are people like the Browns (Gordon and Sarah) and the Dowlers, who have been visited by tragedy, and never invited the press in, but they barged their way in anyway. This is absolutely unforgiveable.

Lastly, there are people like (for example) J K Rowling and Judi Dench; people at the top of their game, who could presumably have made millions by inviting Ok or Hello into their homes, but have always opted to remain private individuals. They deserve to have that privacy respected, because they never sought to exploit their celebrity status. They leave that to others. And, let's face it. There are plenty of those.


  1. I have often felt the same way:

    1) Our society (American in this case) is far too celebrity-focused.
    2) Some celebrities invite that interest and perpetuate the problems.
    3) Other celebrities are hounded when they don't deserve to be.

    I try to just ignore as much of it as possible, but that doesn't solve the problem either.

  2. I don't buy the papers, haven't for years now. But I do listen to the news on the radio and Radio 4, because I like to know what's going on.

    I think that the media should listen to what the people want rather than tell us what they think we want to know.

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  5. I just hate the way the press operate.

    If they're not dishing the dirt, they are promoting vicarious enjoyment of people's grief by encouraging families to give dreadful embarassing speeches about their 'loved ones'infront of the camera.

    It just makes me cringe. I have to switch off.

    Surely bereavement should be a private matter to be shared with close friends and family, not to be broadcast around the world?

    I hear there are now plans for an independent body to regulate the press. Not before time, I say.

  6. Hi Frances .. a lot of very intrusive information is coming out -

    I'm reading Helen Rollason's book on her cancer - she lived for 2 years .. but died late 90s .. she was the first tv female sports presenter ...

    .. in it - she was burgled after she'd come out of major surgery and treatment (in fact they thought she wouldn't live to Christmas -let alone another 18m) .. just before Christmas .. she went shopping and while she was out the house was ransacked .. the newspapers were rung and notified ..

    So these appalling and completely selfish actions .. are dreadful - trouble is the perpetrators .. ie the pushers probably won't have to pay for it ... Hilary

  7. HI, Jen. I guess ours is just as bad as yours. I've no idea what the asnwer is.

    Jarmar, how sensible you are! We read The Times, and it's getting increasingly tabloid in its news coverage.

    Gail, I couldn't agree more. The bereavement thing ("how do you feel about..." etc) is beyond the pale.

    Hi, Hilary. What is particularly shocking is that the people behind all this are (supposedly) intelligent and educated, and so should know (a lot) better. It would be nice to feel that good will come out of all this, but somehow I doubt it.

  8. Hey, Frances - this isn't at all related to your blog post - someone came to my blog after searching for 'I love horses'! It worked!

    Any ping pong takers?

  9. Wow! But no ping pong takers as far as I know. Yet.