May 24, 2011

'Masked men' attack paparazzi outside Ryan Giggs' home

A van of masked men have reportedly attacked the cars of photographers camped outside the house of Ryan Giggs, the Manchester United footballer who finds himself caught up in a super-injunction storm.

Police were called to Chatsworth Road in the village of Worsley this afternoon, according to Sky News.

A statement issued by Greater Manchester Police said: "Officers attended and discovered at least six cars had been vandalised after a group of offenders arrived in a Ford Transit van and attacked the vehicles.

'Inquiries are continuing.'

Reporters said cars belonging to them were kicked and covered in flour and eggs and car tyres were slashed.

Several men wearing balaclavas burst out of a Ford Transit van and attacked the vehicles before fleeing the scene.

The media has descended on the Giggs household after it was revealed in Parliament yesterday that the Welsh legend was behind a gagging order which prohibited details of an alleged affair with reality star Imogen Thomas from emerging.


May 15, 2011

White House: No more photo re-enactments

The White House said it is ending its long-running practice of having presidents re-enact televised speeches for news photographers following major addresses to the country, a little-known arrangement that fed suggestions of fakery when Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

After Obama's live, late-evening address from the East Room of the White House on May 1, five photographers were ushered in to shoot pictures as the president stood at the podium and re-read a few lines of his speech — a practice that news organizations have protested for years.

Even though The Associated Press and other news outlets said in captions to the photos that they were taken after the president delivered his address, many people who saw them may have assumed they depicted the speech itself. That raised questions of whether news organizations were staging an event.

The issue also drew attention when Jason Reed of Reuters, one of the photographers who took part, blogged about the assignment, saying the president "re-enacted the walkout and first 30 seconds of the statement for us."

This week, the White House stepped in.

"We have concluded that this arrangement is a bad idea," Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said late Wednesday. He said the administration is open to working out some new arrangement with photographers.
The practice of re-enactments has a long history. Washington veterans say President Harry Truman would deliver speeches over radio and then repeat them for newsreel cameras. Doug Mills, a photographer for The New York Times who was on duty May 1, said he has seen every president from Ronald Reagan to Obama take time after a speech so still photographers could get their shots.

Photographers know that for these major televised addresses, delivered from the White House without an audience, newspapers and websites expect to illustrate their stories with a picture of the president speaking. News organizations disdain White House handout photos, preferring to take the pictures themselves. They consider "screen grabs" from television to be of poor quality.

Yet the presence of still photographers with cameras that make noise can be a distraction to a president, particularly in cramped settings such as the Oval Office, and perhaps to viewers of the speech.

"All it takes is for some photographer to drop something and the president react to it, and it looks terrible on television," Mills said.

The AP, in the photo captions transmitted with pictures shot by Pablo Martinez Monsivais, said: "President Barack Obama reads his statement to photographers after making a televised statement" on bin Laden's death. Despite that, a survey by the journalism think tank Poynter Institute found that 30 of 50 newspaper front pages that used an Obama photo from the speech "implied or strongly suggested it was an image of the live address."

Santiago Lyon, director of photography for the AP, said the news service "would welcome real-time access to these sort of addresses in a way that maintains our journalistic independence."

The White House usually has an official photographer on duty, and the administration's Pete Souza took pictures of the president's real speech that night. But news organizations generally resist using handouts unless necessary — as was the case with the official photos of the White House Situation Room during the mission that killed bin Laden.

Also, the role of the official White House photographer is to show presidents in a good light. For example, if a president were to shed a tear or get visibly angry during a speech, it might make a great news photo, but probably not one the White House staff would want to circulate.
Don Winslow, editor of News Photographer magazine for the National Press Photographers Association, said the White House offered a pool arrangement for national addresses, where one photographer would be chosen and would agree to distribute a photo to colleagues, but news organizations rejected it.

David Ake, assistant AP bureau chief for photography in Washington, said the White House has not approached the AP with the idea. But he said single-photographer pools allow only one point of view.

"There are examples every day of the variety of pictures made when several photographers are present for a news event," Ake said. "Single-photographer pools stifle the creativity created by competition among several photographers to make the best storytelling image."

There are conflicting accounts on whether technology exists to take photographs without distracting the president. One idea could be using mirrors so photographers could do their jobs out of the president's sight line, the White House's Earnest said.

"We're optimistic that we can work out another arrangement with the still photographers," he said.

May 13, 2011

Paparazzi debate flares over royal bridesmaid pics

LONDON (AP) — As Prince William and Kate Middleton honeymoon in a secluded spot, the paparazzi who stalk them are back in the spotlight.

There's a brewing legal battle over publication of 5-year-old photographs of bridesmaid Pippa Middleton sunbathing topless, and anger about gruesome photographs of the late Princess Diana in the moments after her 1997 car crash appearing in a documentary about her death.

The publication of the Pippa pictures — showing the 27-year-old on a powerboat with older sister Kate (in a revealing bikini) and William (in a red and white bathing suit) — prompted the Middleton family to file a formal petition to Britain's independent Press Complaints Commission.

That complaint is seen as the first salvo in what is expected to be a conflict between the monarchy and the press as both sides try to establish boundaries in a new royal era defined by William and Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and their determination to live a normal life.

The prince and his bride jetted off this week to a secret honeymoon spot that royal watchers believe was chosen specifically to keep them out of the lenses of the paparazzi.

"That and security would have been of primary importance," said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine. "We've known for a long time William would not stand for any nonsense regarding his new wife and her family."

Many Britons — mindful of how Princess Diana was tracked by the paparazzi in the moments leading to her fatal car crash — want the new royal couple, and the rest of the Middleton clan, to be able to move about without facing a constant barrage of flashing cameras.
"I think they should be left alone to be honest, after what happened to Lady Diana," said Marla Quinn, a 43 year-old receptionist from Surrey.
The nation has been astir with news that "death photos" of Diana moments after her high-speed crash in a Paris tunnel will be shown in a new film about her death, "Unlawful Killing," premiering at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Middleton family's complaint cites four British tabloids — the News of the World, Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mirror — for publishing photos that violated family privacy, including those of the sisters and William on the luxury boat off the coast off the Mediterranean island of Ibiza.

Other pictures of Pippa Middleton have also received wide exposure on the Internet and in various publications, including one of her dancing suggestively in a lavender bra and a flimsy white skirt with an unidentified man wearing boxer shorts. Sensitive pictures of younger brother James Middleton have also circulated on the Internet.

The independent press commission will determine whether the newspapers have violated the Middletons' privacy and whether there are any "public right to know" issues that might justify publication of the photos.

While freedom of speech is protected in the United States by the First Amendment, European law protects privacy as well as free expression, often leaving it to judges to balance the two competing concerns.
A key European Court of Human Rights judgment in 2004 bolstered privacy protection by ruling that three German magazines infringed on Princess Caroline of Monaco's privacy by publishing photos of her and her children at a Monaco beach club.

The recent British newspaper coverage, including front-page photos of Pippa Middleton in a bikini, reflects her status as a surprise star of the royal wedding.

Her appearance in a figure-flattering Alexander McQueen gown at the wedding has sparked a flurry of interest, including the establishment of a Pippa Middleton appreciation page on Facebook.

Experts believe her newfound fame offers a raft of commercial opportunities — but could be undone if more embarrassing photos surface.

Katrina Kutchinsky, managing director of KK Communications, which represents luxury restaurants and bars, said Pippa Middleton is in high demand on the London nightlife scene.

"She's definitely the hot ticket at the moment, my venues are trying to reach her, but she's very well protected," Kutchinsky said. "Everyone is talking about her."