FOR THE WEEK OF SEP. 03, 2007
10 years later, Diana still reigns as "Princess of Sales"
Send pupils to a look at papers or online editions from last Friday or preceding days to consider how Princess Diana was presented in anniversary reports. Solicit reflections on what her sons or other admirers might say about the tone of coverage. Is she being remembered appropriately and respectfully? What comes to mind first when they hear or see her name? Do journalists have a responsibility for Diana's image?
Celebrity news is a newspaper staple. Turn class members loose on a hunt for an article or brief item about a high-profile athlete, entertainer, creative artist or other newsmaker who's not a government official. Invite them to discuss the value and drawbacks of this type of coverage.
Journalists also are fond of anniversaries, such as marking the date of military mileposts, historic events and celebrity deaths. Assign students to list or talk about ways that anniversary coverage is useful.
A decade ago, the death of Diana turned the Princess of Wales into a princess of sales as marketers cashed in with books, magazines, TV shows, a London concert and merchandise galore. The 10th anniversary of the British princess' death in a Paris car wreck Aug. 31, 1997 has brought lots of attempts to cash in on interest in Diana's life and legacy.
There are magazine covers, broadcast specials, more than a dozen new books, stamps, collector plates, figurines, coins and all sorts of 'limited edition' souvenirs commemorating The Peopleï¿½s Princess. Itï¿½s routine now for celebrities to be commercialized after their deaths, but even pros were surprised by how quickly Diana became a global marketing phenomenon in 1997. "Diana is knocking on the door of the club" that includes Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy," says Tim Brooks, executive vice president at the Lifetime Entertainment cable network, which ran three straight nights of Diana programs last week.
A July 1 benefit concert at Wembley Stadium in London to celebrate Diana sold out all 90,000 seats. In a more dignified memorial on Friday's anniversary, her sons -- Prince William and Prince Harry -- organized a service at chapel opposite Buckingham Palace in London.
Editor says: "I felt huge responsibility for what happened, and I think everyone in the media did. If the paparazzi hadn't been following her, the car wouldn't have been speeding and, you know, the accident may never have happened. A big Diana story could add 150 000 sales. So we were all responsible." -- Phil Hall, former London newspaper editor
Author says: "What she did with her celebrity was to, in a sense, make the template for the sort of global humanitarians of today, with the rock stars like Bono, and Angelina Jolie -- she did it first, and I admire that." -- Tina Brown, writer of The Diana Chronicles, a new book
What's ahead? "Diana's memory may grow to become even more iconic, especially to a younger generation that just knows the memories." -- Cyndi McClellan, senior vice president, Comcast Entertainment Group
Front Page Talking Points Archive