Viewpoint: Royal baby – a good day to bury bad news?


Karen Ross is a Professor in the University of Liverpool’s Department of Communication and Media

“There has never been a more perfect time this year to release news about something really unpalatable than right now, as journalists first vied with each other to describe the nearly-but-not-quite-there-yet birth of royal baby who is third in line to the throne and then provided regular ‘bulletins’ (of what, exactly?) outside the hospital once the boy child was actually born.

“Surely I am not alone in my yearning for the bygone time when news was, well, new?

“From the second, literally that Kate left home for the hospital at 6am on Monday 22 – we were told that she was ‘driven’ to St Mary’s with hubbie Wills in attendance as if there might have been some other kind of conveyance, a horse-drawn carriage perhaps? – the public have been treated to a minute-by-minute account of her progress.

”Call me a cynic but I’m expecting, no pun intended, to see some pretty brutal statistics on unemployment/ redundancies/ home repossessions and evictions buried and obscured by ever more babbling baby-mania”
”Trouble is that for most of the day yesterday, there wasn’t any progress in terms of the labour, so what we had instead was a minute-by-minute account of journalistic speculation including the mind-numbingly banal comments of her former neighbours in Chapel Row, “oooh, yes, we are sooo excited”. Gawd.

“I accept that some might say I have a rather curmudgeonly republican sensibility when it comes to all things royal and thus unlikely to coo and cluck at the prospect of a new prince or princess but ironically, I spend much of my academic life critiquing the news media’s marginalisation of women so I suppose I could trade off one against the other.

“But the real issue here is not just the persistent repetition of an already-known story – hey, it’s a boy! – which takes up valuable moments in the rather slender attention span that many of us give to news but that it can (and infamously has, remember “Jo Moore’s suggestion, after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre that ‘it’s now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury’) enable the sly publication of ever-more draconian policies on page 12 rather than page 1 or, in these days of online news, to be a mere link on the sidebar rather than the top story on the home page.

“Call me a cynic but I’m expecting, no pun intended, to see some pretty brutal statistics on unemployment/redundancies/home repossessions and evictions (í  la the bedroom tax) buried amongst the also-rans of civil war in Egypt and Syria and earthquakes in Gansu province and obscured by ever more babbling baby-mania.”



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