An investigation into the legal and
ethical constraints on the PR
representations of Naomi Campbell
By Tiann Rowland-Dixon 13FTo
Why I chose this topic
Naomi Campbell has been a fashion and modeling icon for decades but the countless legal and
ethical constraints involving the media has overshadowed her professional profile. I became very
engrossed in looking deeper at Naomi Campbell- what is her representation within the media?
Who is behind her making sure she makes all the right moves and who cleans up all the wrong
I am very interested in public relations and the techniques used to ensure someone’s
representation is correct throughout the media, and I was intrigued to find out the reasons
behind Naomi Campbell’s representation within the press- who is the distributor and is it biased
information? Last of all is the PR working? I wanted to find out if the public is getting the desired
impression of Naomi Campbell through empirical research . I formed a precise question that
would allow me to research the topic properly - What are the legal and ethical constraints on PR
representations of Naomi Campbell? I used search engines like Google, Google Scholar and
Google Trends to find academic and non-academic sources for her representation within the
media. I also discussed this topic using focus groups and vox pops to get the views of the public
as well as using content analysis and cross references of multiple sources to ensure I was able to
present a final thorough conclusion.
Naomi has a negative representation within
When researching Naomi Campbell on Google, the most common topic I would come across
was the ethical and legal constraints in her representation such as abuse, anger and the 2010
blood diamond trial. In order to gather a full perspective of her representation I looked at a
number of online news paper articles from different publishers –
As well as online blogs such as femalefirst.co.uk and celebitchy.com, to gain personal and
individual perspectives. When looking at this collection of non-academic sources I found
something in common, all of them either had a bad experience with Naomi Campbell or they
provided negative representations of her within the interviews and articles. I realised that my
research is limited and the articles I chose were not always subjective because it was my choice
to include them.
source 1 and 1a
Looking at the Daily Mirror 3AM section, I was looking for negative representations of Naomi
since this section mostly consists of gossip- but this section has a high readership meaning that
the articles posted had an effect on her representation. The article I concentrated on article
revealed an image from a photo shoot Naomi Campbell did for another magazine with the
“I’m sure some want to tie me up and maybe tape my mouth shut.”
Suggesting that the media
want her to do something
she is incapable of doing
and also suggests that she
is never going change.
Which gave me qualitative research into Naomi’s personal view of her representation. The
image advocates that she wanted to make some form of amusement out of her representation
by re-presenting what “some” want her to be like (well behaved and silent). Although some saw
this image as sexual, I saw it as a PR stunt to increase Naomi’s light hearted persona and to
reassure people that she is comfortable and confident in how she is. Her light hearted persona is
then contradicted by an article in The Independent (source 1a) stating that The Mirror had to
give £3,500 in compensation for breaching her privacy by using “offensive and distressing”
images in their article. The Daily Mirror were also told to pay £1 million due to success fees
and an additional £365,000 as a personal settlement between Naomi and her lawyers (
) The additional success fee shows me that fining a news paper is effective because the more
successful the article is the higher the fine- it could drastically lower their profit from the article.
source 2 – invasion of personal life/privacy
When looking at The Daily Mail’s gossip section I was, again, expecting the article
to be biased and subject to negative representations; I noticed that they do not
portray Naomi in a positive light and come across as biased and unreliable. In the
article I studied, the newspaper made no positive comments on Naomi’s success
in other projects but focused on unofficially diagnosing Naomi with Alopecia.
'with experts saying she is suffering from traction alopecia - hair loss caused by
the use of extensions.’ -
This is a breach of ethical and legal constraints because it contains private
photographs without her consent and makes accusations of her health without
proof from a reliable source. Similar behavior is mirrored in source 1a but this
particular article was not fined, corrected or removed. A possible reason for this
could be that the PR management team are selective with what they deem as
inappropriate or career damaging- her private life and legal issues are more
damaging than a medical or physical accusation. The Daily Mail is infamous for
reporting negative articles on Naomi Campbell and has a reputation for not using
reliable sources within the articles. Taking this into consideration I decided this
was an unreliable source.
Source 6 & 6a – Is it because of her anger and violence?
A large part of Naomi’s negative representation within the media is to do with her well
documented violent outbursts. I looked at The BBC for a report on the phone throwing incident
that took place in New York, this gave me a more reliable and established source of information.
The BBC stated the facts of which where that Naomi had to pay the medical bill and was
sentenced to community service as well as anger management classes. Although The BBC does
remain un-biased by supplying both Naomi’s and the court’s perspective, it does not change her
representation within the media. In this case it was purely Naomi’s violent actions that made
her subject to a negative representation.
On the other hand, The BBC reporting Naomi’s outfit 'Campbell, who appeared in court in a
pencil skirt, 4in heels and a Louis Vuitton jacket told the judge' –
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6268109.stm implies that she was more focused on herself rather
than the court case, making the article subjective because it includes unnecessary details to
persuade the reader. Whereas The BBC focuses on the court case, other admin blogs focus on
the other details that could breach legal constraints by posting alleged comments from Naomi
herself without backup sources. Blogging sites are a lot harder to legally and ethically constrain
because they are not expected to follow media guidelines and restrictions. I also had to bare in
mind that news papers and news corporations will only report news worthy subjects, which
tends to revolve around negative situations.
Femalefirst.co.uk http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/celebrity/Naomi+Campbell-1508.html did this
by stating that Naomi used aggressive language and threats without using a well known source
to back it up. These allegations came from a biased perspective that may hold some subjectivity
in trying to make Naomi look bad within the media. Although these articles are in different
tastes, they both add to Naomi’s negative representation in different extremes.
Source 5 - Is her popularity because of her negative representation?
The public’s interest in Naomi goes up when she does things wrong- this coincides with source
6 that suggests that Naomi’s negative representation is mostly caused by her violent out bursts
and her legal struggles.
When looking at Google Trends
I noticed that Naomi’s public interest in searches went up during the 2010 blood diamond trialleading me to conclude that the more problematic she is, the more interest she gets (point E).
People love to see famous people in bad situations as it acts as a distraction from their own
lives. People would rather search something negative about Naomi Campbell than something
positive, which makes me think that this is why she is comfortable in her current
representation- because she gains popularity and attention from it, which then leads to
opportunities and financial gain (reality television shows, features and interviews). This also
presents an ethical dilemma in her representation because it suggests that she does bad things
to get attention.
Source 7 - The Press & PR responsibilities within the media
7. I decided not to just look at the content of the media but the legal and ethical rules behind it.
I looked at both sides of the press and public relations.
Whilst looking at The PCC http://www.pcc.org.uk/cop/practice.html I noticed that some rules
were not followed in the articles I have studied:
•‘Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and
correspondence, including digital communications’ – this was violated The Daily Mail’s article
(source 2) where they make allegations of Naomi having a disease (although it was not proven
within the article), this violates her health privacy as well as including private photographs of
her to display the possibility of her having the disease. Not to mention in another article I
focused on in my content analysis where The Daily Mail published photographs from Annie
Willshaw’s personal Facebook when reporting on Naomi Campbell’s blood diamond trial in
2010. Although this is a breach of privacy, I know that these images can be used with the users
consent but unfortunately I did not find out whether she gave The Daily Mail permission to use
them. This also corresponds with another PCC guideline: ’It is unacceptable to photograph
individuals in private places without their consent.’
Through my research I have realised that the media can sometimes have subjective tendencies
to make someone look bad on purpose, especially within the tabloids. By Ignoring PCC
guidelines such as invading a celebrities private life by including photographs and health
information, it shows that the PCC is not effective because the news papers make a larger profit
by selling more when using violations because the story becomes more exclusive. This was
proven in my vox pops where majority of the people I asked associated Naomi with having a
negative representation within the media.
My Question - What impression do you gather of Naomi Campbell from the media? Please be
specific in your answer.
I asked a specific age group of eight 17-18 year olds to take part in my vox pop. 6 of which were
girls and 2 where boys.
As you can see, only 12.5% had a
positive impression of Naomi
Campbell from the media and
87.5% had a negative impression.
This means that majority of the
media consumers are receiving
negative impressions of Naomi
Campbell from the media, adding
to her negative representation.
Qualitative results: the participants said that they got their negative impressions of Naomi
Campbell from the negative assault charges and her appearances on television talk shows which
revealed ‘provocative’ body language.
Sources 3&4 – negative and PR
The Stylist Magazine article http://www.stylist.co.uk/people/naomi-campbell I focused on was an
interview with Naomi Campbell, and it provided examples throughout of Naomi’s bad representations and
noted her actions within the interview to prove it. The caption of the article was ‘we did try’ symbolising
that Naomi lived up to her negative representation within the media. The article gave specific examples of
her behavior '[As I glance up from my notes I catch her rolling her eyes.]' '[Her speech has quickened and
her words become clipped. she seems annoyed.]’ which could have been a slight over reaction but
coinciding with Naomi’s previous representations, it could also be the truth. The interview on the whole did
not go well and mainly revolved around short statements and cold responses, I noticed that this was
especially similar to the Radio Times interview I also focused on.
The Radio Times article http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-09-30/naomi-campbell-the-face-and-theabruptly-ending-interview was more abrupt than the Stylist interview by it ending with Naomi physically
stopping the interview half way through the question, ‘she cuts me short by holding out her hand like a
policewoman stopping traffic.’ With both of these interviews falling short, I had to wonder if this was
more to do with the PR management?
I then noticed that the PR management were very present throughout both of these interviews The two PR
men sitting in the corner jump up and start to usher me out.’- Radio Times ’Her PR, who has been sitting
nearby, ushers me and The Face’s creative director out onto the fire escape’ - Stylist clearly stating what
can and cannot be said: ‘I have been asked by her PR team not to go into her ‘personal life’ , ‘[naomi’s pr
informs me this is the last question.’ - Stylist meaning that there is a link between these two articles that
suggests that Naomi’s PR Management has been attempting to control her representation through
interviews by pointing out question guidelines. But the PR management cannot control if the reporter
writes down their surroundings and what they are being told – this represents Naomi in an even more
difficult light as it implies that there are a lot of restrictions when interviewing her.
7a) PR responsibilities in the media
2.2 Have a positive duty at all times to respect the truth and shall not disseminate false or
misleading information knowingly or recklessly – http://www.prca.org.uk/assets/files/PRCA
%20Professional%20Charter%20and%20Codes%20%28October%202013%29.pdf This explains
that PR management have to have a positive duty at all times, meaning that they must ensure
that they should represent their clients positively and although the truth may not always be
positive they must respect the truth. This is shown in sources 3 and 4 (The Stylist and Radio
Times interviews) where the PR management were heavily present throughout both interviews
ensuring that the questions asked where not invading their clients privacy. Although they can
control what can be asked, they cannot control what the reporter writes; in sources 3 and 4
both writers discussed the presence of the PR management negatively, implying that Naomi is
difficult to work with.
In order to conduct my content analysis properly I decided to create a new question that relates
to the topic. This is so I could easily isolate what I am trying to find out:
what stories within the news display legal or ethical constraints when reporting on Naomi
Campbell? Compare stories from different websites.
The story I decided to focus on was the blood diamond case of 2010, which is when Naomi
Campbell was accused of accepting blood diamonds from Liberian President (at the time)
Charles Taylor. I chose this story because it gained a lot of media attention and there are a lot of
different articles based on the story for me to compare and cross reference.
I looked at articles posted in The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, BBC World News online, ABC News
online and The NY Post. I chose a mixture of British and international news because the trial
took place in America and I thought it would be interesting to see if they had any extra
information that Britain did not have access to. Also, I chose to look at some established and
probably reliable sources as well as non established sources because it would give me the
opportunity to look at the legal and ethical constraints within both. Established news such as
BBC online and ABC online are less likely to have any legal breaches within their articles because
they are required to follow set print guidelines by the PCC or their own internal code of conduct
(e.g. the BBC code of conduct), which I found out whilst researching the editorial guidelines
within my secondary research.
What did I find out from the content analysis?
what stories within the news display legal or ethical constraints when reporting on Naomi Campbell?
Compare stories from different websites.
The content analysis showed me that there were a lot of legal and ethical considerations within the reports
of the blood diamond trial. When looking at The Telegraph
-http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/liberia/7927869/Naomi-Campbelladmits-she-was-given-blood-diamonds.html , I noticed that the article mentioned Naomi’s past criminal
offenses that had no relevance to the trial- this is an ethical issue because although the article was stating
facts, it reminds the reader about what she has done in the past, making the article subjective; reinforcing
her negative representation.
The Daily Mail articlehttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1301455/Mia-Farrow-Naomi-Campbellknew-blood-diamonds-Charles-Taylor.html contained a lot of legal and ethical issues by violating privacy by
taking images from a personal Facebook account (I did not find out whether they had permission to use the
images). The article also contained another ethical issue by using photographs of Naomi at eventssubjectively implying that Naomi did not care about the trial as much as she should, again portraying her in a
BBC used filmed footage of inside the courtroom which allowed me to think that it was a reliable source but
they also included information about the trial that would represent her in a negative light: such as how late
she was, clothing and her attitude throughout.
When I started to focus on American news such as ABC http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/naomi-campbellsblood-diamonds-found/story?id=11341425 the article contained a difference in information: “The
Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The BBC News all stated that Naomi did not know who the two men were that
gave her the diamonds but here it states that ‘Campbell said that two men she believed to be representative
of the warlord…’ which automatically makes me question its reliability” - taken from my content analysis.
part 1. headline clippings
My focus group consisted of 6 people; 5 girls and 1 boy all aged between 17 and 18.
I decided to break my focus group session into two halves- the first half included looking at
different headline clippings of Naomi Campbell within the media.
The second half involved the group watching a
YouTube clip of a one on one interview with Naomi
Campbell and Trya Banks
chose this clip particularly because it demonstrated
a visual of Naomi Campbell’s negative
representation within the media and it also showed
some of Naomi’s characteristics and possible
reasons why she has a negative representation. I
also thought it contained a lot of ethical issues
because the clip tends to target Naomi instead of it
being a even-sided discussion.
Focus group – quantitative results
This chart shows that more people had a
positive Impression of Naomi Campbell in the
media than negative because the participants
suggested it made her appear human and
easy to relate to. This also contradicts the
results shown in my vox pop because more
people saw her in a positive light than
This chart shows that the focus group
was split evenly when discussing if they
had heard any of any of the headlines I
used. I thought that this was
interesting because it contradicts with
the idea of the media having the power
to change peoples perception and also
the news only broadcasting “news
worthy” (negative) material.
Focus group – quantitative results
This chart shows that more people
have heard negative stories about
Naomi Campbell than positive. This
contradicts the result I got on
question 1 where it states that more
people had a positive perception of
Naomi Campbell in the media than
negative- on the other hand, this
could also mean that the negative
stories in the media makes the public
feel able to relate to her on some
Focus group pt 2. video clip (qualitative results)
when watching the clip, what impression did you get of Naomi Campbell?
After watching the clip, the group decided that one of the most dominant impressions they received was that Naomi came
across as a bully and that she was happy to have made an negative impact on Trya’s life. Others in the group gained a sense
of maturity from Naomi as she was able to sit through the interview quietly without demonstrating her violent and
Did the interview being done by Tyra Banks make it biased?
The whole group agreed that the interview was biased because it mainly came from Trya’s perspective- as a result, the
interview portrayed her in the same negative light as the news papers. I thought that this corresponded with source 1 from
my secondary research because showed the same aspects of the media wanting to portray her in a certain light but she
fights against it by remaining calm.
Do you think it was a good PR move?
This result corresponds with the result I got from source 7 of my secondary research because it demonstrates that although
it was a negative interview, it was a good PR move because she gains more public interest when she is portrayed negatively
than positively (as shown in source 5) and PR is all about gaining the publics interest .
Do you think that Naomi had a fair chance to argue her points?
The group thought that Naomi did not have a fair chance to argue her points because it was focused on Tyra’s perspective
rather than both. This corresponds with source 2 where they also did not gain her perspective when commenting on her
Did Naomi’s persona match the representations of her in the newspapers?
The group decided that the she did not match the representations because she was not angry or violent throughout the
interview. This adds to part 1 of the focus group where question 1 shows that more people had a positive impression of
Naomi than negative and also adds to the idea of the media exaggerating stories or only broadcasting negativity.
Do you think that this interview was dramatized for ratings?
When I asked this one member from the group suggested that no one would have an interest in the interview unless it was
dramatic, so in order to gain public interest there had to be some form of drama and emotion. This also adds to the concept
of Naomi being represented in a negative light to enhance drama and to gain the audiences interest.
What I did not find out in my
• I did not find any articles referring to how Naomi is represented and why they
think that is. I think this would have been useful because it would have allowed me
to compare some of my findings to my primary research results.
• In source 1 I was not able to find out whether she was referring to the media or
people in general that wanted her to be a certain way. I think this would have
been useful to understand if the media or the public enjoy her having a negative
representation because it would have made my understanding of why negative
stories are printed and if they make more of an impact than positive stories.
What I did not find out in my
I did not have a wide variety of male perspectives within my vox pops and my
focus group. I think this would have been good to use because I would have
been able to gain a wider perspective on how Naomi’s representation within the
I did not gather information from a different range of age groups. I stayed within
17-18 because they are a relevant media consumer age group but I think
gathering information from people who have known about her for a longer
period of time would have benefited my primary research.
Evaluation – secondary research
The sources in my secondary research were very useful in helping me find out about Naomi
Campbell’s current representation within the media. I used them in my report because they
helped me realise the legal and ethical constraints on the representation of Naomi Campbell.
The sources also helped me understand the role of public relations and how legal and ethical
constraints can make it harder to maintain/create a positive representation of someone at all
I feel as though I spent enough time on my secondary research sources and within that time I
was able to fully analyze their reliability, content and relevance. I also chose to look inside the
media’s rules as well as the public relations guidelines to allow me to come to a thorough
I found my sources by focusing on different headlines and topics, if I discovered something
interesting in that topic I would research further until I found something relevant to my
question. Majority of my sources were randomly found but looking deeper into the randomly
found sources, for example looking into the regulations of PR, were methodically found to back
up a source or argument.
I used a variety of reliable and unreliable sources in my secondary research so I was able to
highlight the legal and ethical constraints in each article. I feel as though my assessment of their
reliability was probably accurate and whenever I discussed an unreliable source I clearly
explained the faults within it.
I think that it was a good idea to complete the secondary research first because it gave the me
the opportunity to understand Naomi Campbell’s representation that the media are trying to
portray before going back to the target audience and seeing if the representation was correct.
This then made it easier for me to reach my conclusions with enough evidence to support my
Although I feel as though I have a lot of sources to make my research thorough, I would have
liked to have use a YouTube video as part of my secondary research to gain a visual perspective
on her representation rather than just in print media. I also feel as though I did not use a good
variation of search engines. I found it difficult to use websites that provides quantitative data
because I found that my research topic was more qualitative than quantitative since it was
based on opinions and included a limited amount of data.
Primary research evaluation
The primary research techniques I chose to use were quite reliable. I decided to use a mixture
between qualitative and quantitative research so I could analyze as well as ask an audience. I
feel as though my research techniques were effective because they allowed me to use the
knowledge I gained from the secondary research sources as examples to put forward to an
audience. I received a lot of information from my primary research that enabled me to come to
a final conclusion on Naomi Campbell’s representation from people who consume the media
rather than people who create it.
I chose participants near my age group (17-18) but with conflicting tastes and preferences to
gain a wider perspective than just focusing on one demographic. I believe that this was a good
choice because the age group I chose are within the category for the main media consumers
meaning that they have a better understanding of the media industry and its effects on people.
They provided me with sufficient answers: the participants who had a good understanding
about Naomi Campbell’s representation were able to give me elucidated examples and
arguments and the participants that were not aware were able to explain why the are not
aware and why it did not effect them, which is also useful when drawing conclusions.
I used 6 participants for my focus group and 8 for my vox pops. I think carrying out a small vox
pop questioning and focus group kept my answers precise and it made it easier for me to
evaluate and analyze. On the other hand, asking more people would have given me more
sources to back up my argument. Looking back, I would have liked to use more male
participants in my primary research to gain a wider perspective on their opinion.
When conducting my primary research I feel as though I was objective – I tried to listen to
different opinions, I did not add my personal opinion and I gave everyone a fair opportunity to
talk. The only time I got involved was to ask people what they thought to ensure everyone gave
me an answer.
I wanted to make sure that my focus group went on for 18 minutes to ensure that it was a good
discussion and that everyone got involved and shared what they wanted to say. I think I
conducted my focus group well by including interactive tasks and videos for them to watch so it
was entertaining as well as constructive. The only thing I would change would be the number of
males that participated in my focus group- I would have liked to have understood what they
thought of Naomi’s representation within the media as a male consumer.
Overall, I have found out a lot of information about the representation of Naomi Campbell
within the media and what helps construct either a negative representation or a positive
representation. I also understand a lot more into what public relations can and cannot control
and the efforts PR management perform to ensure that their clients are represented properly;
for example, participating in interviews, stating guidelines for what can and cannot be said and
being quick to restore order. Looking back at this project, I would spend more time organising
more participants for my focus groups and vox pops and less time on my secondary research.
List of sources
1 Author N/A, 31st August 2011, Naomi Campbell Issues Her Own Gagging Order, ) Mirror 3am,
available from: http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/naomi-campbell-issues-her-owngagging-order-150761, accessed on 2nd October 2013
1a) Author N/A, 18th January 2011, The Independent, Daily Mirror legal fees in Naomi Campbell
case ‘disproportionate’ available from:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/daily-mirror-legal-fees-in-naomi-campbellcase-disproportionate-2187628.html , date accessed: 2nd October 2013
2. Sarah Bull, 9th August 2012, When Extensions go wrong: Naomi Campbell displays shocking
bald patches after years of wearing weaves, The Daily Mail, available from:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2185897/Naomi-Campbells-shocking-baldpatches-years-relying-hair-extensions.html , accessed on 9th October 2013
3. Lyndsey Gilmour, date N/A, Naomi Campbell, Stylist Magazine, available from:
http://www.stylist.co.uk/people/naomi-campbell, accessed on 8 th October 2013
4. Kirsty Lang, 30th September 2013, Naomi Campbell, The Face and the abruptly ending
interview, Radio Times, available from: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-09-30/naomicampbell-the-face-and-the-abruptly-ending-interview, accessed on 2 nd November 2013
5. Author N/A, 8th October 2013, title N/A, Google Trends, available from:
%20&cmpt=q, accessed on 8th October 2013
6. Author N/A, 16th January 2007, Supermodel Naomi admits assault, BBC News, available from:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6268109.stm, accessed on 1st October 2013
6a). Author N/A, Date written N/A, Naomi’s PA speaks out over ‘reign of abuse’ , Female First,
available from: http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/celebrity/Naomi+Campbell-1508.html, accessed
on 8th October 2013
7. Author N/A, Date written N/A, PCC Codes of Practice, The Press Complaints Commission,
available from: http://www.pcc.org.uk/cop/practice.html, accessed on 9 th October 2013
7a. Author N/A, 3rd October 2013, The Public Relations Consultants Association Character and
Codes PDF, The Public Relations consultants Association, available from:
%20%28October%202013%29.pdf, accessed on 16th October 2013
Content Analysis links:
Bruno Waterfield and Andy Bloxham, 5th August 2010, Naomi Campbell admits she was given
blood diamonds, The Telegraph, available on:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/liberia/7927869/NaomiCampbell-admits-she-was-given-blood-diamonds.html, accessed on 4 th November 2013
Rhianna King, 10th August 2010, He’s going to give me some diamonds: Naomi Campbell ‘flirted
with African dictator before he gave her lavish gift’, The Daily Mail, available from:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1301455/Mia-Farrow-Naomi-Campbell-knew-blooddiamonds-Charles-Taylor.html, accessed on: 4th November 2013
Anna Schecter, 6th August 2010, Naomi Campbell’s ‘Blood Diamonds’ found, ABC News, available
id=11341425, accessed on 4th November 2013