Jun 06 2014

70 years on and a reminder about the roots of liberty

GRNlive correspondent Catherine Field took this pictures in Normandy ahead of the commemorations today (Friday).   Shows two people at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.   An official at the French President's Office said this year's commemorations have a twin message : to thank the Allies for their role in defeating Nazism and to remind today's young about the roots of liberty.

GRNlive correspondent Catherine Field took this pictures in Normandy ahead of the commemorations today (Friday).
Shows two people at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.
An official at the French President’s Office said this year’s commemorations have a twin message : to thank the Allies for their role in defeating Nazism and to remind today’s young about the roots of liberty.

Jun 03 2014

GRNlive correspondent Catherine Field coverage plans over D-Day Commemoration

GRNlive correspondent Catherine Field will be going up to Normandy on Thursday 5 June, first thing in the morning. She will be at the Caen Memorial and D-Day exhibition and interviewing veterans during the day Thursday and will be staying there over night.

On Friday 6 June, she will be at Bayeux to cover British Service of Remembrance at the Cathedral and the Ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.

She will then go to the International Ceremony at Ouistreham (Sword Beach) which is where more than 25 heads of state and government — including Presidents Obama and Putin, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Francois Hollande of France and Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. She will join with more than 1,000 veterans to commemorate D-Day and will be at the feed point/press centre at the event.

In the meantime, she’s sent us these pictures – they are copyright protected, but contact us if you would like rights:

C Field GRNlive d-day3

Preparations at Ouistreham (Sword Beach), where on Friday 6 June more than 25 heads of state and government — including Obama, Putin, Canadian Prime Minister

C Field GRNlive d-day2

Preparations at Ouistreham (Sword Beach), where on Friday 6 June more than 25 heads of state and government — including Obama, Putin, Canadian Prime Minister

C Field GRNlive d-day1

Monument to the 1st US infantry division Monument on seafront at Colleville-sur-Mer

C Field GRNlive d-day 5

Arromanches where British forces came ashore at Gold Beach showing the huge concrete structures of the Mulberry Harbour, an ingenious artificial port that eventually landed 2 million men, half a million vehicles and 4 million tonnes of supplies.

C Field GRNlive d-day 4

Preparations underway as tourists and military mingle at Pegasus Bridge, where on the night of 5/6 June 1944 British paratroopers, in an extraordinary glider-borne stealth operation, seized a vital crossing point to prevent it from being used in a German counter-attack. On Thursday, weather permitting, a commemorative parachute jump by more than 300 soldiers, including members of the Britain’s elite 16th Air Assault Brigade, will take place near Pegasus Bridge.

 

Oct 10 2013

Media business models for Twitter

How Twitter can make real money in media – ideas from the sensible to the downright bonkers.

Before I start, my background is news media, from working in the field to running a network of reporters providing live breaking news coverage for TV and radio broadcasters…  The other premise is that if Twitter needs to survive with advertising, it’s going to be a long hard slog, with no guarantee it will win. So here are things that seems logical to me….

By way of disclosure, I think Twitter is a very useful tool and possibly as revolutionary to news as the pigeon was to Reuter.

1 – Sell dedicated streams:

This post is prompted by the launch of @eventparrot – an interesting Twitter experiment. But without dissecting that, I would suggest the following. News organisations or anybody selling information needs to get inside their clients – Twitter is everywhere already, so sell priority tweets or DMs.

Existing news organisations and agencies will say that undermines their own business models, but if Twitter is the platform and as a subscriber to any news agency, you get the Tweet – it’s simply another way in. Twitter should sell this technology direct to all news agencies to start with and they will buy it, because they have no choice. Plus working direct with these agencies, will open up a load of other opportunities, this will grow fast.

2 – Offer a marketplace for media:

So much video or still photography that appears these days in news media first popped up on Twitter. Sell it for your users – that’ll make them happy and will help bolster the market. The licensing model is pure Hollywood – it keeps on giving.

3 – Sell music, movies and other entertainment direct in stream:

Add a simple ‘buy link’ – you are a platform after all and creating your own entertainment content might be really bonkers.

4 – Offer film and music companies paid engagement platform:

Charge out the platform to offer engagement opportunities between the audience and the artist – it will need moderation, but you can charge both or either party for the pleasure.

5 – Start to ‘own’ breaking news:

Twitter could easily engage 1000+ tuned in and turned on reporters around the world who can craft general and breaking news for niche and huge audiences. They can provide a global feed, but also a more dedicated service for paying customers. These customers can also then, once they’ve paid up, interact direct with the people on the ground, ask questions, engage and more. We all want our own question answered, who better to answer them then somebody at the scene.

In the news field Twitter needs to think of itself as the software equivalent to Bloomberg (from a business model perspective only), while in the entertainment space, Twitter needs act like Sony did in the 70s and 80s.

Think big, the bigger the better. I’ll pay for some of this stuff, as will loads of others.

Oh and by the way – I think the DM system is the best IM out there – I would also pay to use it…

Oct 01 2013

I say disrupt more….

As a dinosaur of the news business I have seen more change than is imaginable to my poor industry. In 20 or so years it’s gone from an upstanding part of democracy to a barely recognisable heap of unprofitable chaos. Sad as this could be, it’s not the point.

News in all forms is information exchange and is key to the general well-being of all people. The disruption brought by the information superhighway on the traditional news business has shaken the fabric of society and pushed many out of jobs. There are lots of examples of new models, many trying to make a square pin fit  through a round hole. But I don’t see any of this as the answer.

I say disrupt more. In our product led world a brand needs consumers to keep buying. So companies spend much money on advertising, PR and hope their social media strategy will be good enough.

To my mind this is a risky, but for lack of a better alternative, it is currently accepted as best practice.

But how about and listen up brands; you have to disrupt the advertising and PR businesses that have you by the short and curlies.

Increasingly people don’t watch ads and neatly crafted press releases are less likely to hit home. This is thanks to social media and the trend will not change, so loose that dream, it’s all change. Of course people in advertising and PR will tell you that’s not the case, as the news industry did in the late 90’s, but history shows how wrong they were.

The vogue in news and many other things is for eyeballs, the more audience the better, but ask anybody who owns a shop and they will say, they need conversion, not browsing, they need people who buy.

Therefore, as rule of thumb, I would say it’s the quality, rather than quantity of eyeballs that’s important.

Look at Twitter for example, desperately scrabbling around for an obvious model to make money out of all it’s users. That said, I see the platform is one of the most exciting developments for news in the last 20 years, for sales and not only a breaking news alert service.

So let me throw an idea out there.

Is there a brand in the world that is comfortable enough in it’s skin to fund and take criticism of it’s own product?

Could a brand be frank and factual, honest and all encompassing like a news publisher should?

For example, is Apple, the world’s most valuable brand, mature enough to say, ‘hey, this product isn’t so good and here’s why’. Rather than just quietly brushing it under the carpet and trying to forget about it? Or would they fund a real comparison, no holes barred, regardless of the outcome, of other products in the market?

I’m arguing they should because going forward that will be the strongest marketing, PR or advertising money can buy. This is how they can further cement their relationship with the buying public. If consumers feel the brand is honest and not just trying to get into their wallets, they be more loyal. I think this will replace classic PR and advertising and is a great opportunity for real practitioners of the ancient trade of storytelling….sometimes known as journalism.

What I’m talking about is throwing it all up in the air and catching it in a more logical order for our new reality of constant information.

So brands, be frank and factual, tell your story, warts and all, and the consumer will be loyal.

Mar 04 2013

The Rise of the Journalist as a Door to Door Salesman?

You’ve got to hand it to our chief Henry Peirse, he’s no word mincer. Last week his tweet looked pretty much like a grumpy declaration of war: “Anybody that thinks the #futureofnews #journalism is about training reporters and journalists to be entrepreneurs is a moron”, said Henry, and all jumped in the ditches and poked their noses out to see who bites, and when will the first shot be fired.

Markham Nolan picked up the challenge, and a rather cordial debate, especially considering Markham’s position on the entrepreneurial nature of journalism in our time, ensued. “Ever heard the maxim ‘you’re only as good as your last article’?” asks Markham in his blog piece on the debate, “As a journalist, your last article will often get you your next commission, so you’re always selling. Especially if you’re a freelancer – it’s a game of pitch-and-follow. Chase the story, chase the invoice. To say that journalists shouldn’t be entrepreneurs forgets that there’s a large chunk of self-employed journos out there making a living entrepreneurially. Some are more entrepreneurial than others, of course.”

There’s no doubt that the collapse of staff jobs as we knew them, especially in media has created a world of freelancers who need to make their living on as story-to-story basis. I’d argue that while this reality is to be acknowledged, there’s not much about it to glorify. It rolled the production costs and the risk taking in the news-making business over from the deeper pocket of the news organisations to the emptier one of now freelance correspondents.

It created a reality where newspapers and broadcasters buy stories off journalists, or just chase passers-by, whom they don’t know. While this reality should be identified and not ignored by people in the industry who educate the next generation of reporters (that’s, by definition, “everybody” in media), there is absolutely no call for presenting it as an ideal state of things, even to be aspired to, or to stop attempting to help journalists “outsource” their marketing tasks.

The demands on journalists in the 21st century are immense, in terms of the demands from them. They are still expected to be able to find the news, write good copy (proof readers and editors are another expense the newspapers have cut down on), find the best interviewees and get their hands on exclusive pieces of information, but they are also expected to have full command of all relevant technologies: social media, blogging, tweeting, shooting video, editing video, shooting and posting stills, recording audio and video packages.

And as the required skills list grows, the rewards become less and less secure. From a world of bureaus, salaries and expenses accounts, we now have one in which a journalist is expected to summon themselves on their own expense to where the news break, when it breaks, compete with an army of others just like them for broadcasters and newspapers’ favours. Then to start applying their marvelous above mentioned tool-kit while not forgetting to be entrepreneurial, otherwise they might find themselves out of pocket.

At the same time the sense of mission in journalism is under constant attack from the forces of the world of business. The separation between the editorial and the commercial has always been a matter of friction between management and editors, but it was always clear that its sacredness is the ethos that guarantees the public’s trust. Now it seems to be subject to constant manipulation. In a long article about “branding” in journalism Lewis Dvorkin of Forbes seems to swear equal allegiances to both in equal measures: “The mission of journalism is to inform, and that requires observation, selection and interpretation, with all the biases that entails. The business of journalism is to provide marketing partners with new ways to reach consumers. BrandVoice aims to achieve both”.

Carrying the burdens of selling their “brand” and their work to media vehicles which in the past used to pay their salaries, making their mission worthwhile to commercial bodies – all this leaves very little time for journalists to research stories, chase sources, cross-check facts, learn background and content, interview, DO the journalism, BE journalists.

True, there was always an element of sales involved in journalism. You had to convince your Editor of the validity and importance of your story and they in turn had to market it to the editor-in-chief whose job it was to defend it from the wrath of the management and its commercial interests. This model, while imperfect, ensured that the professional side of the story was measured and estimated by at least three professionals, without any commercial interest legitimately interfering in it.

But turning every journalist into an entrepreneur, a machine aiming to sell a popular tale in order to survive, or sex up a scandal into an appealing form, and viewing the skills involved in that as more important than the basic of journalism is not a recipe for healing journalism. It is a cynical plot by the business of media to make more money, and spend less. Journalism has nothing to benefit from turning into a gladiator arena for thousands of iPhone carrying, business and marketing trained, sales agents.

Feb 15 2013

Are you on the Map?

It is not that we object to being called at 3am to be asked “Just out of interest, who have you got in the Solomon Islands?” It is what we do! Then again, if general curiosity grips you at ungodly hours of the night, or if you really do need a correspondent somewhere, anywhere, feel free to have a play with our new, improved and rather brilliant map, which now boasts fantastic new features (none of which involves any horsemeat!).

The Map, to be found on the front page of our website, shows the locations of all our correspondents (over 1000) in all our countries of coverage (132 and growing!). You can get to the correspondents details by clicking on the red pins on the map. With one click, this will provide you with the correspondent’s photo, work samples, short biography, languages spoken, special skills and expertise, and more. It’s always shifting sands; correspondents move, new people get added, new countries appear – so keep checking. For this reason we’ll never say it’s complete – it’s a job like painting a huge bridge, the moment you stop, you’ve got to start again.

If you want to book a correspondent, you’ll still need to contact us. We believe in providing the perfect balance between solutions that can be provided by technology, and those that can be only provided by a real person. Our Map will help you learn where we are and who we have. Our experienced duty editors will listen to your coverage needs and use their knowledge of our correspondents, of the news story, and of regional geography in order to provide the best coverage. But we don’t need to tell you that, you know us already…

We do try to provide maximum information about the correspondents and their whereabouts, however, we are not perfect. Correspondents – if you’d like to provide more information or are desperate to replace that less-than-flattering photo or video? Have we missed the fact that you can also broadcast in Portuguese and make video packages? Tell us.

Everybody else  –  do bear in mind that, especially in a fast-rolling story, the best and latest info is at the hands of the duty editor. However, knowledge is power, and you know best what qualities of a correspondent are crucial for you – so check them out!

The detailed map enables you to explore available services beyond live broadcast. Many of our correspondents can shoot video, record audio and edit audio and video packages; while many have backgrounds in print journalism.

GRNlive has made it its mission to provide professional journalism for any news media, from the biggest broadcasting corporation, to the local radio station and website. The map-based information is just one way to make our network accessible and familiar to all our clients. It also enables our correspondents to network more easily with colleagues around them. We hope you find this new feature useful and enjoyable.

Dec 13 2012

How Can We Help You? GRNlive’s New Partnerships

One of the things we are most pleased with about GRNlive’s work this year is the partnerships we have forged recently. Over the last few years we have been following developments in the news market with great interest. As ever, our aim is to maximise our use of new technologies to benefit our clients and maximise the work we can offer our correspondents. At the same time, we are adamant to keep raising the flag for professional journalism in a media world that keeps changing. We have chosen our partners carefully, making sure they share our belief that mobile phone applications, online marketing and advanced means of production can go hand in hand with meticulous “old school” approach to content.

With this in mind, we have entered four partnerships this year with companies involved in some of the latest trends in new media.

Octopus Media Technology /Octopus TV Ltd is a cloud based, video content management and delivery platform. The Octopus platform provides four major functions: Digital Delivery; Digital Archive; Live streaming; Video on Demand. This platform is now available to GRN clients to distribute their video content on and get wide exposure on many platforms. Combining this service and the GRN network is an excellent way of making video from anywhere in the world accessible to every web publisher and traditional broadcaster.

Rawporter is based out of Charlotte, NC and in public Beta. Rawporter’s vision is to protect, promote and sell the photos and videos that are being shared online. Its platform enables to upload content quickly and efficiently from mobile phones and tablets, hence enabling speedy delivery of news directly to clients. “Let’s face it,” says Kevin Davis of Rawporter in his press release announcing the partnership, “being on-air is hard work and doing it from an actual war zone is for professionals. I spent some time on-air in the 90’s and have a ton of respect for journalists like Henry and his network. While I sat comfortably behind a microphone in a studio, he was covering the Bosnian war! In fact you’ll see his network reporting from 130 countries around the world when a story breaks and media partners can’t get a crew there. (Keep an eye out next time you see someone reporting from a war zone for one of the big guys. If they don’t have a network logo plastered on his mic flag or vest then it’s likely a GRNlive correspondent.)” Thank you Kevin, we sign up to every word and are looking forward to exposing our correspondents to this new opportunity.

TRANSTERRA is an online marketplace that brings news, documentary and multi-media from the world’s frontlines to buyers around the globe. It now offers its sales platform for GRNlive correspondents. Content is uploaded via the website and presented in high quality to clients.

Last but not least is the funky Forward planning platform of Zapaday. Forward planning, they say in Zapaday, is a dark art in the news business. But combining Zapaday’s forward planning wizardry and reach of our correspondents, film makers, photographers and fixers guarantees that broadcasters will never miss a story and get access to optimal coverage of it.

We are looking forward to working with our new partners over the holiday season and into the New Year.  Many of our correspondents have invested their time talent and effort this year in expanding their technical capacities into audio and film. Our new partnerships are one of our ways to guarantee it will all pay off.

Nov 19 2012

Reporting Gaza from Tel Aviv

This has been a strange week for providing international news coverage. Once the Israeli attack on Gaza started we immediately contacted our correspondents there to check they are safe, sound, and available. Safe they are not, but Gaza is where they are based and they were keen to make their news known. Our Israel correspondents, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ashkelon, are all good to go too, but based on our experience we assume they will be in less demand as most broadcasters have regular correspondents in Jerusalem.

To our surprise, many of our clients did not need coverage from Gaza. They either say they were happy covering the story from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, or they booked our correspondents there. This, we see watching the news on multiple channels, is the attitude of most other news organisations.

Israel-Palestine news stories are the most contentious ones in the world. No other conflict produces so many tweets, protests, letters to the editor, outraged social media posts and complaints from high ranking politicians. Traditionally, most of the above were produced by Israel and its supporters claiming anti-Israeli bias, even anti-Semitism. Those have not stopped, but over the last few years Palestinians, Israeli opposition activists and international pro-Palestinian pressure groups are catching up. Their presence in the social media is prominent, but their political influence over decision makers and politicians is still inferior to that of Israel. The White House declaration immediately after the first Israeli bombing, backing “Israel’s right to defend itself” is probably the strongest testimony. The web has been raging and storming since last Tuesday, many tweets are coming out of Gaza and many people read them, but it seems not enough Gaza based journalists are given the opportunity to give them credence or dispel them. When established media complain that social media is taking over, it might want to bear that in mind.

There are many reasons for broadcasters to keep their correspondents on the Israeli side of the high wall that surrounds Gaza. Keeping the correspondents safe is one of them, alongside the fact that political decisions that can stop the heavy bombardment will be taken in Israel. Security concerns got extra weight after Israel has targeted and bombed two media buildings in Gaza City. An Israeli spokesperson boasted after the first attack that “no western journalists were hurt”. Technical concerns also come into account. Phone lines are better in Israel as is the internet connection and the feed-point you use, if you opt for studio reporting, is unlikely to be brought down by a bomb.

Another reason for the Israel focused coverage is the missiles that hit Israel from Gaza cause a few causalities but much distress to Israelis. Israel, no doubt, is a big part of the story. But the immense gap in the number of dead in Gaza (over a hundred according to conservative estimates) and in Israel (three at the moment) and in the fire power on both sides (F-16 bombings vs. rockets), all make Gaza the real war zone in the equation.

Balance is a hard goal to achieve and many ingredients influence it. One of them is the ability of the target audience of a broadcaster to identify with the “protagonists” of the story. Even if most Western media consumers can imagine what it feels like to have a siren go off while you are at the gym, drinking latte in a café, or trying to decide whether to use balsamic vinegar or sesame oil for the salad dressing of a Saturday meal. The fear and upset of people they identify as “people like us” speaks to them, and understandably so. This makes the Israeli story easier for them to absorb. The pictures of whole neighborhoods flattened down by bombings and people rushing their injured or dead babies to hospitals in improvised taxis is a scenario many people in London, California and Paris might be able to imagine themselves in. They may be horrified, but identification and horror are not quite the same thing.

This Friday, after a siren went off in Jerusalem, I called my mother, who lives there. I knew she was physically safe and that the rocket landed outside of town, but I also knew she was home alone. She had lost her arm in the first day of the 1967 war, when the Jordanians were shelling Jerusalem. I feared the alarm might have startled her. I found her watching the comedy show LIVE at the Apollo on BBC Prime. “Oh don’t be silly”, she said. She told me she went to the “protected zone” which is in the stairwell and waited there for a few minutes. But she mainly complained that UK stand up comedians are not what they used to be. She was mainly disturbed by the unbecoming hairdo of one of them.

When I posted this little story on Facebook I received immediately a lot of sympathy and concern for my mother from friends all over the world, and mainly in the UK, where I live. My mother, naturally, reminded them of theirs: stiff upper lipped, business like, dismissive of over-fussing and youthful hair-dos. I wonder how many could “get” a Gazan mother.

All this makes it all the more important to have correspondents on the ground in Gaza and to give airtime to those freelancers who are already there. The constant stream of aerial shots of exploding houses in Gaza with commentary in the background does not deliver the same human picture that a correspondent on the ground can deliver.

When teaching and studying “media” we all know that the balance of a story depends not only on good intentions, but on things that often may seem technical: camera angle, geographic distance of the reporter from the subject of coverage, cultural identity of the players involved. The current attack on Gaza takes those lessons from the lecture room to the bleeding alleys of reality. We might as well try and implement those lessons.

Our reporters are available: In Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem, in Ashkelon; And yes, in Gaza.

Oct 17 2012

Friends with Benefits

This week we recommend you check out interesting blog entries from our friends at the International News Safety Institute. Top Pakistan TV anchors sent death threats for condemning Malala attack and a fascinating interview with James Rodgers, who has covered conflicts in Chechnya, Gaza and Iraq, and now published a new book. ‘I want to share with the next generation of journalists what I wish I knew 20 years ago’, says James.

The INSI is throwing some light on some much ignored facts in journalistic practices. More than 1,000 journalists and other news workers have died trying to cover the news over the past 10 years.The great majority were born and raised in the land where they were killed. Foreign correspondents are the high profile casualties, but most victims are local. When the victim is a journalist working in his or her own community, the news makes little impact outside that region. Yet, local journalists are at greater risk because they continue to live in the areas from where they report. When the story is over they cannot board an airplane and fly away. INSI works to achieve its objectives in Americas, South Asia, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Africa and Europe and Central Asia:

* Develop a global campaign of safety for journalists by introducing safety issues into the mainstream of international media development strategies including actions to improve levels of professionalism, to raise awareness in journalism of ethical issues, to improve the standing of journalists in relation to governments and political authorities and to support independent media initiatives. Those actions are only possible and sustainable if there is the creation of a safe and secure environment for the exercise of journalism.

* Provide pro-active and timely support to journalists and media staff in or travelling to conflict areas, achieved through rapid safety training interventions to improve the working conditions of local journalist

* Strengthen media professionalism in societies where social dislocation, conflict or political transition undermine the roots of democracy by conducting security and first aid training.

GRN will collaborate with the INSI as with other friends who we consider as partners in our mission to provide better, and fairer, journalism from every corner of the world.

Sep 28 2012

Let the Royals Play for Us

The summer is most certainly over. It is sometimes hard to tell in the UK but I’ve cunningly learned over time that you know for sure when the rain keeps falling but your feet start freezing. Experience is everything!

The silly season of journalism was late this summer. The queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics all provided light but respectable entertainment (and endless weather forecasts) which seemed to involve a fair amount of earnestness and not hardly enough skin (on that note, when have swimmers started wearing trousers? We didn’t get that memo). Both events were chronically adorned by plenty of “how we’ve all come together” editorials, which made some cynics (don’t look at me!) miss the riots of the previous summer.

But one can always count on the younger Royals to save the day and what they sometimes seem to lack in humour, they make for in their proclivity to take their clothes off in inopportune moments. After 20 years of sheepishness, the paparazzi are raising their heads again, armed with contemporary equipment, be it a mobile phone or top of the range lenses.

First came Prince Harry, fooling around quite immodestly in Las Vegas, to a mixed public response. The headlines were screaming for a while, but the public seemed to bite rather reluctantly. First, because of the feeling that the ratting friend who abused the ginger prince’s hospitality in order to click-and-post was more condemnable than the striping young royal, but mainly, because of the “boys will be boys” allure which coats everything he does. From his first drug experience, at age 11 or so, after which he was subjected to a brotherly chat with good old William and a tour of a rehab clinic courtesy of Prince Charles, Harry has had a role. He has been nominated to play “the lad” of the Windsors and he plays his role, as strange as this word may sound in his context, obediently. Stories about his exploits in night clubs in London have, for some years, quietened the press’s hunger for Royal gossip, and enabled William to remain his good self.

But the tabloids were still not satisfied. A few weeks after the bare bottomed Harry, arrived the second round – bare chested Princess Kate (nee – Middleton) and tan-lotion-rubbing William were caught in the lens of a very diligent paparazzi while holidaying in a friend’s castle. This time, the public seemed much more annoyed. Mainly annoyed with the French photographers, that is as don’t we love to hate the French and their culture of pretending not to care what famous people wears or neglect to wear on their holidays. But what I found quite notable as the sense that the person whose privacy has been violated was Kate and her alone, whereas Prince Wllliam’s rage had only to do with her alleged shame. But while indeed it was the Duchess of Cambridge who had her breasts caught on camera for the world to see, the invasion of privacy in spying on the couple from 400 meters distance using special lenses is surely shared by all those invaded. So while one is better off being caught with their private “bits” covered, the idea of a gallant if hapless prince going on a fierce battle to save his bride’s honour only serves to perpetuate the same conservative and self righteous values which are at the core of the paparazzi shots national obsession.

Here, again, everybody plays their pre-scripted roles. Respectable, somewhat boring Will is forced to load his coldly beautiful (yet in public fantasy secretly wild) wife on the back of his horse, get his underused sword out and ride on to a dual in a French court to save her honour. And with all that entertainment provided, one can only wonder why British republicans argue that the Royals are not paying their keeps.

It remains to be seen whether this summer’s testing of the new waters will mark a new era in the relationships between Harry, William, Kate and the tabloids, after the years of “honorary restraint” which followed Princess Diana’s death. But at least no one could claim now that the summer of 2012 has come and gone without making its tribute to sunnytime silliness.

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