Sample Informative Essay: The Paparazzi

There’re plenty of good sample essays online. This one is an example of informative essay writing.

On Sept. 29, 1998, California Governor Pete Wilson signed what is thought to be the nation’s first “paparazzi law” – legislation designed to punish photographers considered too aggressive in taking pictures of celebrities and others. The new state law and similar proposals awaiting action in the U.S. Congress raise significant First Amendment concerns. 1

Legislative proposals for curbing the excesses of celebrity photographers – the so-called “paparazzi” – have been around for a number of years, pushed primarily by the Screen Actors Guild in the California assembly. 2 Then Princess Diana and her companions were killed in an automobile crash in a Paris street tunnel on Aug. 31, 1997. 3 The initial perception that paparazzi chasing the limo were responsible for the tragedy quickly pushed legislative efforts much higher on the agenda. 4 Other factors driving the legislation: more aggressive tactics by free-lance photographers in the pursuit of celebrity photos, the development of higher powered telephoto lenses and parabolic microphones, and an increasing public concern about privacy. 5

The question of paparazzi threatening privacy and First Amendment rights is often too situational to argue in a conventional manner, but certainly there are many facets of the issue which can be addressed in a quite straightforward manner.

Celebrities who feel they have the right to privacy in public places often muddy the waters of this issue. Oddly enough, those celebrities who have chosen to speak out against what they feel are violations of their privacy most always begin their campaigns with a large press conference. In other words, they gather together those people they wish to not only suppress but also berate in hopes that these people will use their positions and skills to carry these celebrity’s messages to the public. It often seems that theses celebrities want it both ways in that they appreciate coverage when they have a movie, record, or book coming out, but not at any other time. The quandary is that some celebrities can’t understand that when one is out in plain view of the public, one cannot reasonably expect privacy. Privacy is a right reserved for when one is in private. Meanwhile, without the paparazzi and the supermarket tabloids that sell better than fresh bread, the famous wouldn’t be famous. The glitter would fade into gray mist, like a San Francisco fog. With the glitter wet and flowing down some gutter, so would the high dollar appearances, the $10,000 dresses and suits, the stretch limos, the spotlights — the celebrity’s very reason for existing. 6 A symbiotic relationship exists between celebrities and photographers; they need each other to create the aura that feeds them both. And the public needs that aura of fame to feed its dreams. 7

The rights of paparazzi journalists must be protected to prevent the slow erosion of the rights of all journalists. If we allow the paparazzi to be used as a scapegoat and to be persecuted and regulated it will not be long until the next most radical fringe group of journalists come under fire. This cycle will eventually lead to the censorship and suppression of all journalists. Paparazzi photographers, just like any photojournalists, finding a fraction of a second which summates a whole news event and capturing it on film. Their print journalist counterparts, who are afforded not only the luxury of editing, but also a few column inches within which to develop their perception of the story fall into a different category all together.

A photojournalist must ascertain the defining image of a news event as it is happening and capture it on film. If he or she is doing the job correctly, a reader can get a very good idea of what happened without even reading the accompanying article. There is no luxury of editing in photojournalism, the moment is either captured forever, or it isn’t. If a fantastic shot is missed, it is gone forever. A good freelance photojournalist shoots what he or she knows. A good photojournalist also knows what will sell. Some photographs really aren’t worth taking from a newsworthiness standpoint, but if a publication is willing to pay enough for them, than they will be taken.

Sadly money does rule the world, and until paparazzi photographers can feed their families without having to take these sorts of pictures, they will continue to be taken. It is obvious that one of two things is happening. Either the paparazzi does not threaten privacy and First Amendment rights, or they do in such a way that the public does not care. The reason for this goes back to the rich publications that ultimately drive paparazzi photographers to take these pictures. These publications are supported by advertisers who evidently don’t mind being associated with a publication which uses paparazzi photographs, and readers who obviously are willing to pay to see paparazzi photos. In this way both the corporate and private sectors show their approval for paparazzi work. Photographs lacking malicious intent or not published with gross negligence are not conceivably in violation of the First Amendment if they were taken in what would be considered a public area. Violations of privacy are hard to argue also if the photograph was taken in a public area. Ultimately we do need to protect the rights of the paparazzi as well as their subjects. We need to keep what is public and done in public, public and keep what is done in a private place private, but in those situations we cannot allow our sources of information and news to be restricted.

There are already laws in every state against trespassing, against stalking, and against reckless driving (as in the pursuit of a celebrity to be photographed). There are already state laws against harassment. These laws are available to everyone, not just celebrities. 8

These House and Senate bills are crafted for a special class of people, not the ordinary Joe or Helen clad in sweats who drives up to a Mini-Mart in a 1986 Chevy and pops in to get a pack of cigarettes. When special laws are created for special people, the scales of justice get tilted out of whack. 9

These bills won’t stop the paparazzi from following stars. They’ll just devise sneakier, more dangerous means to get their photos. 10

Since there are state laws already on the books to handle abusive behavior by celebrity hunting photographers, the creation of this new federal crime is unnecessary and unwarranted. And, since these bills seek to criminalize activities that are protected by the Constitution, more than likely, they will fall to the first court challenge. 11

Reference List

  1. McMasters, Paul. C. California Enacts First ‘Paparazzi Law'; U.S. Congress Takes No Action on Bills. The First Amendment and the Media. Retrieved at:
  2. McMasters, Paul.
  3. McMasters, Paul.
  4. McMasters, Paul.
  5. McMasters, Paul.
  6. Charles Levendosky. Creating A New Criminal Class — The Paparazzi. First Amendment Cyber-Tribune Fact. February 22. 1998.
  7. Charles Levendosky.
  8. Charles Levendosky.
  9. Charles Levendosky.
  10. Tailor, Philip. Press advocates worry that privacy will trump First Amendment rights. Privacy and the Press. Retrieved at:
  11. Crawford, Ted. Property, Privacy and Paparazzi. Allworth Press. Retrieved at:

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