Pa. couple puts Diana site on Web

September 03, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Jeff and Rhonda Womack don't consider themselves to be royal watchers, but after learning of Princess Diana's death, they opened a Web site that supports a boycott against tabloid newspapers and magazines that buy photos from the paparazzi.

The Waynesboro couple put the Princess Diana site on the World Wide Web on Sunday night, and by Wednesday evening the site had logged more than 5,000 hits.

The Womacks' Web site urges visitors to stop buying tabloid newspapers and to talk to managers of stores that carry the newspapers and ask that they remove them from their shelves.


Diana, the princess of Wales and former wife of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and their driver were killed when their car crashed at high speed in a tunnel along the Seine River in Paris early Sunday.

Driver Henri Paul, who blood tests indicated was drunk, apparently had been trying to elude celebrity photographers following on motorcycles.

Six photographers and a photo-agency motorcyclist are under investigation on allegations of manslaughter and failing to aid an accident victim, a crime under French law.

Jeff Womack, 26, said the Web site has received more than 100 e-mail messages from 20 states and 23 countries in support of the boycott.

"There's no official boycott, but people everywhere are putting up Web sites advocating it," Jeff Womack said. "Most of our e-mail comes from people who say they don't buy tabloids, but will ask stores not to stock them."

He said 10 people who sent e-mail messages said they read tabloids but will not buy them out of respect for Diana. "Who knows if they will or not?" Womack said.

"All of us know a little about Diana and Charles. We couldn't have lived through the 1980s without knowing something about them," Womack said.

He said he and Rhonda, 24, decided late Sunday afternoon to set up a home page on the princess because "it was a way of showing our grief and venting our frustration over the tabloids and the paparazzi," photographers who shoot pictures for sale to news outlets.

"I don't know how so many people found our site when there is so much on Diana on the Internet," he said. "Any time a tragedy or big news event like this occurs, people flock to the Internet."

The Womacks said their Web site has drawn interest from television news networks and newspapers. They have had e-mail inquiries from the New York Times, NBC's cable news network, and the editor of a Greek magazine, all of whom say they are doing stories about the Web site boycott and the entire Princess Diana phenomenon, Womack said.

The graphic on the Womacks' site says simply, "In Memory of Princess Diana 1961-1997."

Links to other Web sites take the reader to other sites that urge a boycott of checkbook journalism.

On his site, Womack wrote that he doesn't blame the paparazzi entirely.

"The revelation that the driver was legally drunk did most likely have a major hand in the accident. However, the fact remains that the paparazzi were on the scene seconds after the crash and instead of helping the injured, they were more concerned with getting the juicy picture."

Womack calls himself a news junkie. He said he logs onto the Internet every morning to see what's going on in the world.

The Womacks live in a second-floor apartment in downtown Waynesboro. Both are studying business management - he at Hagerstown Junior College and she at Frostburg University in Hagerstown.

"Eventually we'd like to open our own business, maybe a health-food store," he said.

The Web address for the Womacks' site is (

The Herald-Mail Articles