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The Royal Wedding: stay away from satire. Or not?

The Royal Wedding: stay away from satire. Or not?

The Royal Wedding is swiftly approaching.
Tomorrow, April 29th, Prince William and Kate Middleton will get married, under worldwide scrutiny.
The wedding fever is spreading, as well as scepticism about the prominence the event is obtaining.

Media around the world have directed the spotlight on the event and madness seems to be spreading among fans. (You can see some telling photos of fans and bookmakers around Westminster Abbey, provided by the citizen journalism image agency Citizenside, here.) Some items of memorabilia lie somewhere between amazing and insane.

The BBC will provide streamed footage and a live stream of the ceremony will be featured also by the official YouTube channel of the British Monarchy. As previously reported, the BBC was said to be devoting an enormous 850 staff to cover the event while Sky and ITV have 460 people there. An estimate said 8,000 reporters would be in London to cover the wedding.

Is this all a bit too much? It's not just tabloids who are devoting a lot of attention to the event - even the most authoritative media outlets are doing the same.

The Associated Press sent a memo to its members saying that "the Associated Press will be alerting every development, running live video in SD and HD, tweeting and posting on Facebook, updating a multifaceted interactive, sending four radio packages an hour and filing hundreds of photographs from key vantage points", as Poynter's Jim Romenesko reported.

AP also announced that it is doing something new: an hours-long running account of the wedding in process for text subscribers, similar to what it does with major sports events such as the Super Bowl or the World Cup matches. The text coverage, AP said, will be three-tiered: a minute-by-minute running account, APNewsAlerts and APNewsNows when events merit, and full stories including mainbar and sidebars.

The London Evening Standard is going to break its 50 years old practice of not publishing during bank holidays and, in order to be the first to run the pictures of the "balcony kiss", it has planned to publish two special editions, the Guardian reported.

Alongside the professional coverage, citizen journalists are going to report on the event too.
The CNN announced that, alongside its professional coverage, it will send citizen journalist Jason Sauter, who works as a guest service manager at Disney World, to cover the wedding within the iReport project, the CNN's latest step toward integrating unpaid citizen journalism with its everyday professional coverage, Poynter said.

iReport - the article said - differentiates itself from other citizen journalism models by combining a partially undirected social media platform with a rigorous news-driven, pro-am model, while citizen journalism at other media establishments focuses almost entirely on assignment-driven content.

As the Guardian reported, some of the most prominent US news anchors have decamped to London, replete with desks decked in union flags and other similarly subtle memorabilia.

"There has been an inevitable glut of reality and makeover shows, all shamelessly pegged to the wedding, including Royal Icing Weekend on the Food Network and Say Yes to the Dress: Princess Brides. To anyone living in America, the results of a recent survey by Nielsen proving that the coverage of the royal wedding by the US press surpasses by a significant margin that of the British media will have come as little surprise", the article noted.

Despite this significant coverage, the public interest remains low, the article said, citing a recent survey by the New York Times and CBS News saying that only 6% of respondents said they were following the wedding "very closely", while 38% were not interested at all.

Controversy dominates in Australia as the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Network (ABC), has been forced to cancel its special coverage by the satirical troupe The Chaser boys. The plan was for the satirists to commentate the wedding live on ABC2; more regular and respectful coverage would be featured on ABC1, Columbia Journalism Review reported.

An ABC News report explained that despite initially ABC TV was advised by the BBC there were no coverage restrictions on the wedding commentary, new conditions of use issued by Associated Press Television News (APTN), via whom ABC plans to obtain the feed, state footage cannot be used "in any drama, comedy, satirical or similar entertainment program or content". This order came from Clarence House.

"Britain's legislative might, wielded since Australia's foundation as a colony in the late 18th century, was finally dissolved by an act of our Parliament in 1986. Yesterday, the cobweb-draped hand of the motherland reached out of the constitutional shadows and took the unprecedented step of threatening to deny the national broadcaster access to the royal wedding", the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

CJR had some highly critical words for this move, calling readers to boycott any and all Royal Wedding coverage. "Is it even possible to take this wedding seriously?", the article asked.

"Isn't it odd that the royals can still dictate to the media the conditions under which they can be covered? And equally astonishing that the media would agree to those conditions?

God save the Queen. And the soon-to-be married couple of course.

Sources: Citizenside (1), (2), NYMag.com, Poynter (1), (2), (3), Guardian (1), (2), CJR, ABC, Sidney Morning Herald



Federica Cherubini


2011-04-28 16:47

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