Just as a health warning, the headline above is of course satire. In this opinion piece I yet again question why the media are obsessed with Meghan Markle, question the newsworthiness of these articles and consider when reporting becomes harassment.
If you live in the UK (or indeed if you don’t) you will have almost certainly witnessed the media circus over Prince Harry’s relationship with US actress, Meghan Markle. Today, newspapers have published ‘amazing’ images showing Miss Markle outside of Kensington Palace after visiting Prince Harry.
Being as Prince Harry lives at Kensington Palace, is it really any surprise she is visiting?
To establish whether the media are justified in publishing these images and making it a lead story in the newspapers, let’s take a look at the term ‘newsworthiness’. When Editors of a publication look at what can be considered newsworthy, they look at certain criteria. Below are some elements of the criteria as well as a discussion over whether it is relevant to the Prince Harry story:
- Timing – Is the story contemporary? It could be argued that because Miss Markle visiting Kensington Palace is a new occurrence in a chain of events, it is newsworthy. However, being as she has probably been there many times before, it suddenly doesn’t seem that new.
- Significance – Is the story significant compared to other news? Donald Trump has just been elected US President, seven people are dead after a tram derailed in London and Leonard Cohen has died. Yet a picture of Meghan Markle walking in the street still seems to be a lead story in many newspapers. I think the significance of the story speaks for itself.
- Prominence – Are the people involved famous? The answer to this question is quite simply, yes. If any journalists are reading this article and are trying to convince you the story is newsworthy, prominence is probably their strongest case. It is a matter of fact that Prince Harry is one of the most famous people in the world so it is little surprise the media hound his life. The Daily Mail said that this is the “price he has to pay” for his public fame.
- Human interest – This is for stories that are considered soft news and are usually saved for a slow news day. One thing that is for certain, today (or any other day this week) has not been a slow news day.
- Shock value – Woman visits her boyfriend’s house – is anybody really shocked?
So that is a brief introduction to newsworthiness. I will leave it to you, the reader, to decide whether you think any of the criteria applies to the story. There are more elements of newsworthiness, but these are the only ones we are concerned with.
Obviously, my view is that the story about Meghan Markle visiting Prince Harry is not newsworthy, otherwise, I would not be writing this article. As Editor of Royal Central, is it my job to source news stories and if they are newsworthy, I shall assign them to our reporters. This is why you will never see gossip on Royal Central – just hard news and facts.
If you are a regular reader of my blog posts, you might think I am a media basher. That isn’t the case – I just believe some in the media are ignorant to the fact that whatever they publish will be digested by the reader often as fact, without the audience challenging it. Of course, some media publications are more than aware of this fact and exploit the readers by purposely trying to get them to conform to a certain ideology.
In my eyes, journalists are supposed to report on the news. For example, when the Sunday Express reported that Prince Harry was in a relationship with the American actor – excellent, that is news! Why wouldn’t you report that, harmless right?Then there are headlines such as “Harry’s girl on Pornhub”, an adult website. Again, one could argue this is
Then there are headlines such as “Harry’s girl on Pornhub”, an adult website. Again, one could argue this is news, but is it? The newspaper who published these claims, The Sun, removed the story from their website after much criticism, but of course, the damage had already been done. The clip in question was taken from the TV series, Suits, of which Miss Markle is part of the cast. The Sun denies smearing the actress because technically, there is a clip on the website. However, the fact they removed the story from their website suggest otherwise.
Part of the statement from the Palace is below. I have highlighted parts it is important to think about:
“But the past week has seen a line crossed. His girlfriend, Meghan Markel, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper, the racial undertones of comment pieces, and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments. Some of it has been hidden from public – the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry into her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by reporters to ex-boyfriends; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.
“Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into the relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say “this is the price he has to pay” and that “this is all part of the game”. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game – it’s her life and his.
“He has asked for this statement to be issued in the hopes that those in the press who have been driving this story can pause and reflect before any further damage is done. He knows that it is unusual to issue a statement like this, but hopes fair-minded people will understand why he has felt it necessary to speak publicly.”
The smears, racism and sexism speaks for itself and does not need to be discussed any further. But what about the bombardment of Miss Markle’s friends, and photographers surrounding her and her parents’ house? Again, there is no point in me going on and on about why this is wrong and the legalities of it.
The final point I will make is where the statement says “This is not a game – it’s her life and his”. Does the fact that Prince Harry is famous permit the media to literally stalk him? The Royal Family are not the Kardashians; they don’t crave on public attention. I find it very funny that whenever Harry breaks up with one of his girlfriends, the media consider the matter to be a mystery on why they broke up. Maybe the simple fact that Harry and Meghan kept the relationship secret for four months will give you a little indication.
Do you agree with Charlie Proctor? Where is the line drawn between reporting and harassment? Let us know by commenting below: