The royal engagement and authenticity in the media

Why do the breathless reports of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton have such a negative impact on me?

I have no ill will toward the couple; they are charming, attractive and – considering the circumstances – appear humble and likeable. In England, where the royal family is some kind of national treasure, I might understand such over-the-top, second-to-second pursuit of each detail as they proceed toward a royal wedding.

But here in America, Will and Kate are not our own; interest in their nuptials strikes me as being borne of respect for our longstanding relationship with England as a friend and ally. Does it require sending squads of journalists to stand outside the gates of Buckingham Palace to get weepy and about the storybook nature of their love?

Simply: No. It doesn’t have the same meaning in England and America. There it’s a fairy tale; here it’s a pleasant news item. The mass media’s effort to transport the fairy tale aspect of it across the ocean and across cultures is not reporting; it’s editorializing.

It’s not journalism; it’s distortion. And it’s part of that problematic blurring between news and entertainment that seems to have infected all for-profit media.

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