Rochester Magazine's 'distasteful' idea to solicit celebrity photos
In response to the P-B's report that conservative commentator Glenn Beck was spotted in Rochester last week, its sister publication, Rochester Magazine, decided on Wednesday to start a contest on social media that will pay local users to take photos of celebrities.
"OK. We're launching a new initiative--Celebrity Spotting! So, if you see a celeb in Rochester, and get a pic of that person, and we run it on our website or in the magazine, we'll send you a $5 gift card to a coffee shop or something similar," the magazine wrote on Facebook.
Within an hour, there were about a dozen comments criticizing the decision:
I'd like to think celebs would feel comfortable here and not worry about a bunch of people snapping photos of them. Rochester is too classy for that...
Bad idea. Give them privacy, very distasteful. They come here for a reason, leave them alone.
Leave them alone, let them have a little privacy. What are you trying to become a Rochester TMZ?
The magazine later clarified that it is "not advocating stalking" and that the idea "actually originated from a celebrity publicist."
It's hard to understand, though, why a publication would endorse this kind of tactic. Sure, it will help the magazine acquire more celebrity photos at a relatively cheap cost, which it can then use to generate engagement (and attention) on social media.
But it just makes me feel uneasy — and nobody is even trying to photograph me.
In defending itself to criticism on Facebook, Rochester Magazine gave the example of taking a selfie with Jay Leno, who recently performed in Rochester. "We ran that on Facebook and it was shared by Jay Leno's page," the magazine says. "I think people will understand good pics vs. bad pics."
But here's the difference: that individual voluntarily sent a photo to the magazine in which the celebrity was a voluntary participant. Having a contest that encourages people to harass celebrities visiting Rochester to claim $5 gift cards is a completely different thing.
Your thoughts? Comment below or on our Facebook page.
About Sean Baker: Sean is the founder and editor of the Med City Beat. Under his direction, the site has transitioned from a small news blog to one of the most widely-read publications in the city. Prior to launching the site in 2014, Sean spent about two years producing television news in Green Bay and Rochester. His office is above a brewery, so please excuse any typos. Twitter.
(Cover graphic: File / CC)