Did you know the Duchess of Cambridge is preparing to fulfil her only biological purpose?
In other news, there was a riot in Belfast that left 15 officers injured, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is planning to release his autumn statement tomorrow which campaigners say won’t curb corporate tax avoidance and the Iranian military claimed to have captured US drone. Oh and Spain has gone to the EU for another bailout.
Now of course, I know I should be weeping with joy that a woman I don’t know has a functioning uterus but, alas! My preoccupation with real news is getting in the way.
As a lifelong republican, nothing gets my hackles up more than the fawning over inherited privilege (my dislike of sentimentality and children doesn’t help either) so I’m probably not the most unbiased of observers. However, I was under the impression the media still had a duty to inform their audience about what is happening in the world today.
Given the media is still struggling to redefine itself in a post-Leveson world, the question of what constitutes the ‘public interest’ is still hotly contested. That still did stop Tom Watson MP managing to shoe horn the royal pregnancy into the debate on Leveson in the House of Parliament yesterday.
The ‘public interest’ versus ‘of interest to the public’ debate is still continuing outside parliament as nearly every news outlet in the country has chosen what sells newspapers rather than what is important.
Only the FT, arguably because it has a readership that is least likely to care about the royal baby, and the Independent papers ran a non-royal front page this morning. Everyone else, including the normally royal bashing Guardian, speculated on whether Middleton will deliver twins, the future of the monarchy and suddenly became experts on the early stages of pregnancy.
As I have long since reached exasperation point with the royal coverage, I am willing to concede that this baby should probably receive some column inches. However, can the public say they have the right to intrude on what looks like will be a very difficult period in Kate Middleton’s life when thousands of women go through difficult pregnancies each year? As the poor woman is in hospital, the last thing she really needs is more press intrusion.
Similarly, the point of Leveson was no matter whether it was backed by statute or not, it needed to reform. If journalism wants to regain its good public status it needs to start reporting news with appropriate weight and discretion.
I understand that in these tough times, for print media especially, fawning headlines and pictures of the country’s favourite people sell and therefore attention must be paid. But the crisis that caused Leveson was instigated by a desperate media prioritising unimportant and often intrusive fluff stories about celebrities.
Half of the media has spent the past week stressing the importance of press freedom as it is the only guarantee of holding government to account. This is certainly true, but how can the media hold the Chancellor’s autumn statement to account when they are busy cooing over someone with no constitutional power who isn’t even born yet?
Leveson was supposed to be the beginning of new free but responsible press. Judging by the media frenzy in the past 24 hours which sought to prioritise one woman’s pregnancy over an ongoing tax scandal involving some of the world’s biggest companies and a potentially major diplomatic crisis shows that nothing is likely to change, statute or no statute.