Will the exploitation of Princess Diana never stop? Will no publication have the courage to say, “Enough!“? Slate certainly doesn’t. But we’re in good company. Having sneaked a peek at the news agenda of the nation’s leading media outlets, I can report that Diana will be with us forever. Here’s a rundown of the coverage that we can expect in the months ahead:
The country’s opinion journals will weigh in with their own high-minded perceptions. “Are there too many stories about how there are too many stories on the Diana tragedy?” Gary Wills asks in an upcoming issue of the New York Review of Books. His surprising answer: “Yes.” Harper’s will feature this provocative cover story: “Why Does Diana Still Sell Magazines? A Harper’s Round Table with Walter Isaacson, Camille Paglia, David Foster Wallace, Lewis Lapham, and Joan Rivers.” Foreign Policy has “The Post-Di Paradigm: The Land Mine Treaty and Beyond” penciled in for its spring issue.
Diana’s legacy will also spur fierce political controversy. In Mother Jones, author Carl Oglesby, in an excerpt from his book Tunnel Vision: The Truth About the Diana Cover-Up, will explore the connection between British imperialism and the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. Oglesby examines the links among the Suez crisis of the ‘50s, the demand for Arab oil reserves, and the British intelligence plot to ply Henri Paul with drugs and alcohol. Oliver Stone will option the book for a movie starring Sharon Stone, George Clooney, and Patrick Stewart as the mysterious “Raul.”
Lifestyle magazines will also glean important lessons from Diana’s life and death. Men’s Health will find an even broader audience with such articles as “Henri Paul’s Bachelor Lifestyle: A Prescription for Doom?” The piece will include a handy quiz, “Are you at risk? Test yourself,” with questions like, “Do you live in a shabby apartment with your mother?” The magazine will also show some of you how to use the Di tragedy to improve your love life: “Understanding Your Mate’s Grief Over Di: A Guide for Men.”
Cosmopolitan will use Di’s tragic life to advise its readers, too. Look for such articles as “Is Your Man a Dodi? The 10 Warning Signs Every Woman Should Know,” “Could a Camilla Parker Bowles Take Your Husband? How to Protect Yourself,” and “Di’s Love Lessons: How Every Mom Can Become a Princess at Home.”
T abloids will explore the supernatural angle. The Globe, for instance, will feature “Diana’s Image in Tortilla Healed My Breast Cancer.” This, and other tabloid pieces on Diana sightings, will prompt Newsweek to ask, “Is the Media Fanning the Frenzy of Diana Sightings?”
Life magazine will reach its biggest audience in years with this cover story: “The Grisly Death-Scene Photographs That Shocked the World. Legitimate News Story or Cheap Sensationalism?” The publication of this piece in America–following the appearance of the photos in a spate of European tabloids–will spark a debate on news programs. Ted Koppel–in a 90-minute Nightline “town meeting” symposium on “The Diana Photos: Have the Media Gone Too Far?”–will briefly show the photos, for discussion purposes only, as he grills Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin and other leaders about sensationalism. Koppel asks the media bigwigs, “Do you ever feel ashamed over what you’ve done?”
Time Warner doesn’t apologize. Instead, the conglomerate’s Pathfinder Web site will bring Diana into cyberspace in royal style by launching “Diana.Com.” The site will provide detailed Diana news, to be updated hourly; a complete photo database of Diana shots; and full-text versions of all key documents in the trial of the paparazzi. (Traffic on Diana.Com will soon rival that on Bianca’s Smut Shack.) Here Diana buffs will play a computer game reconstructing the fatal drive through the tunnel (stated purpose: teaching kids to drive safely) and study the intricacies of French liability law as they get ready to prosecute the photographers in the next Trial of the Century, which, with appeals, may not be resolved until the year 2000.
The next century will bring us even more Diana news. As Prince William grows older and starts dating movie stars (a permissive legacy from the Diana era), the British–and American–press will ask: “Prince William: Stalkarazzi victim or Fair Game?” The real truth about the still-undetermined role of the photographers in Diana’s death may be revealed with the publication of the British best seller, A Son’s Shame: My Daddy Was a Diana Paparazzo.
But Time magazine will speak for all of us when it publishes its 10-year commemorative issue, “The Enduring Mysteries of Diana’s Life and Death.”