ROS COWARD BECAME fascinated with Princess Diana not just because Diana was royalty, but because of what she represented.
Diana Spencer married Prince Charles and entered the media spotlight during an era fueled by a new brand of celebrity-obsessed journalism encouraged by Rupert Murdoch's The Sun.
"Murdoch changed British journalism," said Coward, a journalist, educator and author. "He created a less deferential attitude."
The down-market rag had paparazzi tailing Diana (not so much Charles) everywhere and salacious stories about her life filled the newspapers.
"It was a time of a new journalism and she was a new woman - young, fashionable, sensational," Coward said.
The stories about Diana seemed to follow soap opera plot lines with themes of familial relations, sexual relations, body image comfort, women in the workplace, etc. She lived under constant press scrutiny as Diana coverage garnered higher circulation. She was dubbed "The Princess of Sales."
Coward said that many female journalists, including herself, sympathized with Diana, recognizing themselves in the young princess. When Diana died in a car crash in 1997, Coward cried as she wrote her column.
The press turned against the Royal family after Diana's death, Coward said. The Royals appeared cold in the face of death. At the same time, all coverage of the Royals was good for sales. So coverage continued.
With the upcoming nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton, the British media (and some American media) are going crazy again.
The British press tend to focus on feature stories, Coward said, so the Royals are more than simply tabloid fodder. Speculation about the family, the wedding, their children, etc are all common topics in even the most respectable of British newspapers.
She said that the BBC sets the standards for all journalists, especially broadcasters, but even the BBC is rather obsessed with the wedding.
What did you think of Ros Coward and her analysis of the British media's coverage of the Royal family?
8 months ago