The No-News Media Cover a Royal Birth

Royal Birth Media FixationLong after the American colonials broke away from the British monarchy, long after George Washington refused to take the title of “king,” Americans are still fascinated by anything British and royal.

The media incessantly pumped out news and features about the royal birth. TV networks gave us several “special reports” when Kate Middleton checked into the hospital, and then even more reports when the birth was announced, and then when Middleton, Prince William, and their baby went home. The 30-minute network evening news devoted as much as half of its time to the royal birth.

There was live coverage. There was taped coverage.

Radio gave us near-instant updates.

Just about anyone in London with a cell phone camera sent visuals to TV or YouTube. Twitter was all a-flutter with messages of 140 characters or less; instant messaging swamped almost every known hand-held device. FaceBook lit up with pre-announcements and announcements. Newspapers and magazines opened up full pages for pictures. All of this media coverage is for an infant who is three generations from being king.

Speculation about the unannounced royal name briefly dominated headlines. The royal couple had nine months to determine a name, but still needed an additional two days—fast by past royal naming practices—to come up with a royal monicker, something that would be dignified yet carry on British tradition.

its a boyThe infant is George Alexander Louis, to be formally known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. The “George” carries on a tradition of six previous British kings, including George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father, who ably and courageously led his nation during the darkest part of World War II. “Louis” is for Lord Louis Mountbatten, admiral of the British fleet, a war hero who later became a diplomat. Lord Mountbatten was a mentor and close friend of Prince Charles, the infant’s grandfather.

As for “Alexander,” it could be for Alexander the Great who didn’t invade England. It could also be for British poet Alexander Pope; for Alexander Graham Bell, a Scot whose invention of the telephone led to the iPadization of world communications or for Alexander Fleming, a Scot who discovered penicillin. It’s even possible that the Infant Royal was named for Alex(ander) Trebeck, who always manages to get a question about Canada into every “Jeopardy” show.

It’s doubtful that the future king would be named for any of the seven popes named Alexander, since Henry VIII, an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II, separated England from the Catholic church.

enough kardashianBut let’s think about all of this coverage and speculation a bit longer.

While the media are fixated upon the birth of a future monarch, they have cut back their incessant incoherently babbling about the lives and misfortunes of American celebrities. Because of time constraints, they aren’t broadcasting or printing as many of the latest fashions, work-out plans, celebrity diets, and food crazes.

They aren’t devoting as much air time or column inches to whatever it is that New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is or isn’t doing with his Twitter.
They aren’t splashing multiple-column headlines across every fender-bender or marijuana arrest story. They aren’t repeating, without verification, incessant lies and half-truths told by politicians and the corporate PR cartels.

They aren’t the vehicle for the endless spreading the nonsense and rants about the George Zimmerman verdict or trying to give us pseudo-sociological explanations about race issues in America.

walter braschThey aren’t reminding us that the federal government is bugging us—in so many ways. They aren’t making fools of themselves trying to find where Edward Snowden is or where he’s planning to go, or even if he’s a hero or traitor.

Because it’s August, Congress is on vacation. Media coverage shouldn’t change—they’ve been reporting that Congress, hamstrung by the obstructionist minority, hasn’t done anything for the past four years.

So, for a few days, coverage of a royal birth is a welcome relief to what now passes as news.

Walter Brasch

Thursday, 24 July 2013

Published by the LA Progressive on July 26, 2013
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About Walter M. Brasch

Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D., is an award-winning journalist and author. He is a former multimedia writer-producer, newspaper and magazine reporter and editor, and is professor emeritus of mass communications from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, which looks at the health, environmental, geological, and economic impact of natural gas horizontal fracturing. He also investigates political collusion between the natural gas industry and politicians. Among his 18 books--most of which integrate history, politics, and contemporary social issues--are The Press and the State, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, The Joy of Sax: A Look at the Bill Clinton Administration, and Social Foundations of the Mass Media.
He is also the author of dozens of magazine articles, several multimedia productions, and has worked in the film industry and as a copy writer and political consultant. He is the author 16 books, most of them focusing upon the fusion of historical and contemporary social issues, including America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights (2005); Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of Geroge W. Bush (2008), Black English and the Mass Media (1981); Forerunners of Revolution: Muckrakers and the American Social Conscience (1991); With Just Cause: The Unionization of the American Journalist (1991); Brer Rabbit, Uncle Remus, and the 'Cornfield Journalist': The Tale of Joel Chandler Harris (2000); The Joy of Sax: America During the Bill Clinton Era (2001); and Sex and the Single Beer Can (3rd ed., 2009). He also is co-author of Social Foundations of the Mass Media (2001) and The Press and the State (1986), awarded Outstanding Academic Book distinction by Choice magazine, published by the American Library Association.

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