Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rihanna photo prompts LAPD probe

"Rhianna photo prompts LAPD probe"

This article, by Joel Rubin and Richard Winton, discusses the issues of celebrity security and anonymity in criminal cases. They start of with a clear summary lead; the who, what, when, where and even why are clearly addressed within the first sentence. The nut graph of the article delves deeper into the topic, acknowledging both the fame of the victim and the fame of the alleged offender. They provide this information because it is relevant, but do not hang on the triviality of their fame.
I think the first half of this article is a clear, timely and newsworthy piece, addressing the issue of victim confidentiality in a case of domestic violence. With celebrities' heightened publicity and the invent of online gossip websites, such as TMZ, celebrities' private matters are becoming more and more public. The article claims Rhianna was a victim of domestic violence and her confidentiality should be honored; her being a celebrity isn't an all clear to publish legal documents.
The reporters provide a fairly even perspective on the story, touching on both the limitations on the freedom of a periodical to publish whatever pictures they choose and the legal lines they are crossing with the new advent of technology.
The article continues on to discuss the issue of celebrity confidentiality in a more general aspect. The reporters present a well rounded perspective, using sources from the LAPD, TMZ, and actual laws.
The reporters took what some people could consider a trivial celebrity news story and made it news worthy - addressing the social and legal issues that effect everyone, not just the stars.


  1. Hmmm, interesting... I compile police reports for the DI every other week, and we always leave out cases of domestic battery, abuse, disputes etc., just like the article says- to respect the privacy of those involved.

    I think you're right; this has a definite news peg with the buzz the incident has generated, but the article takes a step back and contextualizes it.

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  3. This article had a lot of meat and legal jargon. It doesn't hurt to break up the paragraphs more and dumb it down for the audience a bit. Personally, chunky quotes drain readers. I'd say the writer could've broken down some of the quotes into bite-sized pieces.

    Nevertheless, the background research, gathering of sources, appeal to all sides of the issue, and objectivity has been well-established in this article.

    Towards the end, there is less talk about what the LAPD is doing to investigate how TMZ obtained that photo of Rihanna and more about how in general publishing photos that took place at a possible crime scene and publishing it is a big "no-no" with the interest of the victim's confidentiality in mind. This story did a good job of coming full circle with why every day people should care about a star getting extra public attention for allegedly getting beat up by her boyfriend. This is a relatable issue for anyone whose photo is misprinted without permission and consideration of one's personal rights, which could possibly damage the ability to receive a wholly objective and fair trial.

  4. It's interesting that your article choice had a lot to do with what we discussed in class this past week. Rhianna's situation could be considered one of those gray areas. She's a public figure, but she is also a victim no matter how well known she is. The article makes it clear that being a victim takes precedence over being a celebrity.
    I agree with you and Rachel about the way the authors and editors were able to report on the situation in a way that didn't sink to a tabloid level. I mean, obviously they had to, they're the LA Times. But I found myself wondering if I would have the capability and the discretion you need to turn a picture in a tabloid into a newsworthy and timely issue.

  5. Do you think that this particular story would have been so highly publicized if this had happened to any normal couple? I personally feel that due to her celebrity status, the story has made more headlines that the same story of an average person would have....