Posted | February 19th, 2020
The Eye of the Media Intrusion Storm
By Hannah Banks – Senior Campaign Executive
Is there a difference?
If you were to stalk, provoke and antagonise someone, you would probably find yourself at odds with the law, facing charges of harassment and slapped with a restraining order, right? So why does this set up not apply to the way in which the social media and tabloid press treat their famous prey?
The press have created a toxic goldfish bowl, where their meal tickets of celebrities and social media influencers live their lives on display to the world. Whilst the media sharks are capable of paying their bills, expensing their holidays and supporting their children’s education through the invasion of privacy.
Pre Social Media
The idea that bad press is better than no press seems more suited to the pre social media climate. Celebrities depended on write ups to stay in the news and on the pages of Perez Hilton and TMZ. However, as a fully-fledged millennial, the storm of publicity surrounding Britney Spears, one of the most photographed women in the world and one of the only celebrities to have her own dedicated paparazzi pack, is still crystal clear. 24/7, her every move was traced by 30 photographers, working in shifts, to keep fresh Britney photos coming and satisfy demand.
As extreme as that sounds, the American press actually pales in comparison to the notorious UK tabloids. Scandalous headlines are prioritised at the expense of ethics in the UK. Reflected in a survey by the University of Oxford in which over half of British journalists said paying for confidential information was justified, compared to 5% of US respondents.
Forcing The Royals out
When Meghan Markle first started dating Prince Harry, it was a match made in showbiz and Daily Mail sidebar heaven. While I hadn’t heard of Meghan before this, I had my hopes high for Harry. Sadly some of her inner circle weren’t as excited and warned her that this relationship would result in the British tabloids ruining her life. Much to the confusion of Meghan, who didn’t see herself as tabloid material.
Fast forward three years, she has suffered an onslaught of alleged racism and constant scrutiny. Megan was also pitted daily against her sister-in-law Kate Middleton and other women the press deemed ‘classier’. Tearing down the Royal protocol of never complaining or explaining, the couple are now suing two huge red top newspapers and have left the UK in search of a quieter life in Canada, no longer being senior royals.
In just the past week we have seen the tragic effects the media spotlight can have. Caroline Flack, 40, the much loved former presenter of the most popular show on TV, Love Island, tragically passed away. After an excruciating couple months of intrusive behaviour at the mercy of the UK press pack who stooped as low as to camp outside her house and slash her car tyres to provoke a reaction. We all need to be asking ourselves how this can be considered normal, and what needs to change in order to protect those in the public eye.
What can we do?
Stricter laws coming into place that can determine what a paper is able to print would be an ideal start. The online clickbait and front page spreads that grab your attention might get the traffic and sales the writer desires. When in reality the story, be it false or not, could have a completely debilitating effect on the target’s life, not to mention their mental health. As consumers, we must vote with our feet and avoid engaging with intrusive content.
Next time you see a headline that shocks you, imagine it was your face, name, and darkest secrets being spread like wildfire. How would you feel about that being shared?