Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Question of the Day: Tuesday, January 6, 2008

Yesterday, Sasha and Malia Obama started their first day of school in Washington D.C. Before the girls went to school, President-Elect Obama allowed a professional photographer to take pictures of the girls and the family and placed the photos online at Flicker.

Is it better for the Obama family to provide photographs of the family to the public, thereby diminishing the value of photos from the paparazzi even if it diminishes the privacy of the family, or to withhold photos and access from the public to protect the privacy of the family and, especially Sasha and Malia?

Update: Based on the Flicker account and prior practices of the Obama campaign and transition, the Obama family and administration seems to place a great emphasis in controlling the situation, meaning that it is reasonable to assume that there will be more photos like these over the next four to eight years (e.g. maybe graduations, Proms, and formal dances though the Obama family may exclude the pictures of dates to protect their privacy-- i.e. let us never see Levi Johnson again.)

Hat Tip: Ben Smith.


M said...

Do we know if this is going to be their normal practice? Or was this a one time deal to make their first day of school easier on them?

Anonymous said...

I don't know that the family's privacy has really been diminished in this case. At least not, for example, in the way that a crowd of paparazzi following the girls to school would have been. Like you mentioned, solon, the Obamas controlled the access and the footage. They posed for the photos and enacted their "real" departure for school after the fact.

In some ways, the girls have been publicized--we know what they wore, for example--but they also maintained MUCH more privacy than would otherwise have been provided for them.

The Jolie-Pitts have another way of dealing with this that I think is interesting and seems to work. They allow as many photos as need be for a set duration--five minutes, for instance, at the beginning of an outing. They even make the photographers jobs easier by being as "visible" as possible during the allotted. Then, they thank the paparazzi for doing their job and ask them to give the family some privacy. From what I've read, it works to a surprising degree.

I can't imagine the loss of privacy that any celebrity must endure. And it is especially pointed for their families, who have not signed up for the post. BUT, the benefits seem to far outweigh the cost of a little smile and wave. And, in teaching their girls how to control their public images, I think the President-Elect and First Lady (Elect?) are using their own obvious discomfort with celebrity as a teaching moment.