Does this Robert Pattinson video make me a paparazzi?

If I take a video of Robert Pattinson arriving at Vancouver International Airport, does that make me a paparazzi?

When I ask myself that question, I can’t help but bring myself back to the argument over whether bloggers are journalists.

Yesterday, while I was covering the Twilight cast’s arrival, I managed to take the above video. I don’t lug my diaper bag of a purse around for nothing: on any given day where I’m out reporting, I never leave without my Flip Mino HD, my recorder, my point and shoot camera and my notebook.

So when I spotted the pale, hunky, stud of a vampire, it  only made sense to whip out my Flip and record R-Pattz walking through YVR. A journalist’s first reaction, right?

After I took the video, I remember someone commenting that I’ve graduated from reporter to paparazzi. “No, I was just reporting,” I replied. I am a multimedia journalist after all. But when does journalism cross the line into being paparazzi?

I think it’s the same as my argument for bloggers and journalism. I don’t believe bloggers should be considered journalists, unless they’ve got equal or greater experience than a “professional” journalist. Journalism is a trained occupation, whether that training is through internships or work experience or schooling. And contrary to what some paparazzi boo-ers believe, paparazzi-ism is the same. Sure, the average person can take a blurry, rule-of-third-less photo of Tom Cruise. But unless you 1) are a trained photographer or have put decent time in to hone your celebrity photography skills 2) have worked a few years in the profession in order to build reliable sources (that whole process is hell, believe me) I’m inclined to say you’re not a paparazzi.

What a fascinating discussion.

  1. Thomas Beckett said:

    I think intent and content tell the story of what you’re doing. In 99% of your work, I’d say you’re producing content, or at least providing commentary on an event. In this case you’ve got a video of a celebrity walking through an airport, a celebrity who clearly didn’t want to be bothered at that. Now I saw only the video on facebook, so this whole thing may be taken out of context.

    I’d say the whole article above is journalistic (or blogaristic?), with the exception of this comment. “So when I spotted the pale, hunky, stud of a vampire, it only made sense to whip out my Flip and record R-Pattz walking through YVR.” That’s when I feel you go from a critical dialogue to celebrity idolization/stalking.

    Now granted, your intent was to cover the celebrity arrival from a journalistic standpoint, you weren’t camped out this solely to take photo/video, so that absolves you from being a paparazzi. I’m just saying it’s a slippery slope.

    Now I don’t know/understand the realities of journalistic pressure and accountability, so my 2 cents really just amounts to me putting my foot in my mouth further.

  2. Lisa said:

    Hmm…if it’s reporting then what’s the public interest in getting a picture of him? Where I work, for example, we’re not supposed to chase someone down for a picture unless there’s a reason – like they’ve committed a crime, betrayed the public trust, that sort of thing. (That doesn’t mean it never happens, but it’s not supposed to).
    Those are our rules – there’s no one code for journalists – but I’d be curious to know what you think of that.

  3. Anon said:

    No anyone can video Robert of him arriving in Vancouver.. I would do that too but i’m a fan lol…

  4. Jessica said:

    Do you think pay scale factors into it? Like, if you got paid $10,000, would you consider yourself a paparazza? (Paparazza, by the way, is allegedly the singular female form of paparazzi.) Or would you just consider yourself awesome?

  5. Jessica said:

    Just to clarify, I meant $10,000 for a singular photo.

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