Friday, March 25, 2011

The Royals: "The Longest Running Soap Opera in Britain."

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?


Alexis Ryan said...

I was surprised by the difference in the way news is handled in Britain vs. America. It seems like in America there is, with some obvious exceptions, a tendency to 'try' to appear non-partisan, but everyone knows there's a political leaning one way or the other.

In Britain, it seems like the newspapers are far more up-front about their political leaning, although this is reflected more in the stories they cover, not how they cover them. And their tv news actually is non-partisan.

So basically, Britain does news better than us and I want to move.

billydelion75 said...

Not to be rude but I could really care less about the royal family, what I really would have liked to debate is her views on feminism and masculinity. Especially her statement in her essay "High Time Men Changed" that,"This doesn't mean that all men should instantly turn to homosexuality, although one can't help feeling it would be an enlightening and improving time if they did." (Ross Coward, 1987) I would definately have liked to discuss this statement!!

Caroline Newton said...

Well I was surprised that the discussion revolved around the Royals. I was not expecting the presentation to be on the media coverage of them, but afterwards I realized that much of her life has been devoted to covering the family and then it made more sense to me. She shared with us how she has covered the royals in comparison to how American Journalists cover them. The presentation was certainly interesting but I wish she talked more about her writing career and travels then about the royals!

Lucas Walker said...

I agree with Caroline in that I was not expecting her presentation to be based on the royal family. I wish she spent more time discussing the differences between our cultures in the world of media.

Sarah D'Agostino said...

Agreeing with almost everyone above, I too felt as though the majority of the lecture was based around a wedding that is definitely an important topic and understandably referenced often in the UK- but not too relatable to a group of North Philadelphia college students. I also was hoping for some comparing and contrasting of our media outlets as well as her opinion on feminist issues. It was awesome to listen to such a woman of prestige, but "know thy audience" came to mind when she was speaking. Cool accent, though.

Sarah Mariano said...

I enjoyed her visit. The only thing I really didn't like was talking about the royals. I remember when the whole Princess Di thing was going on and it drove me crazy. I really have no interest in what some other family is doing, even if they happen to be royalty.

Geo said...

Just an FYI: she was asked to speak about the Royals. If you look at the post before this one, I explained that she would be visiting and speaking about the Royals.

- George
(the teacher who is kind of confused why everyone thought she would be speaking about something else when the previous post said she would be speaking about the Royals)

Mary Gbaya-Kanga said...

Ros' presentation was really bland. She seemed a little nervous or frazzled during it. Maybe I was jar a little bored and annoyed with the topic. The royals mean absolutely nothing to me and the fact the the wedding was such a big deal to Americans just made me nauseous. If she would have talked about the differences between media in America vs. Media in Britain that would have kept my attention a little better.