Royal baby reporting in the twitter era requires more discretion, not less
Royal news has an almost unique ability to dominate the centre of the media Venn diagram. Unlike the seminal breaking news events of the last decade or so, the Royal birth has been entirely predicted and catalogued. The whirring media dynamos of broadcast, press and social have aligned to magnify the most delicate of spaces.
Media management and protocol have not prevented or abated the speculation and comment on the details of the birth. Such coverage does little to establish respectful discretion despite maintaining deference in the sense of occasion. The Royal Family are an easy story, pedalled with excitement and a sense of cheekily peering around the heavy velvet curtain to peep at the blue-blooded Other.
Privacy is clearly at a premium and while the Royals have a carefully orchestrated operation to direct their public engagement a worrying precedent can be set by such events. Those born into such privilege are aware of the heritage and the conditions of public scrutiny but the right of a private citizen to the unexamined life should not be crushed by tweets.
Those dealing in matters of state and national interest, whether through policy or industry, should rightly be scrutinised. The fourth estate justifies itself in fulfilling an essential role of policing through revealing. But those writing and reporting should know most that such licence is a double edged sword. Talk is cheap and Leveson didn’t happen by accident.
The advent of social media has broadened our horizons but has given comment less traction. The millions of tweets on the Royal Baby (#RoyalBaby) are gestures of interest not news. William and Kate’s first child should rightly be a happy celebration, the public are an interested party. For journalists that requires more discretion not less.