It is a very tired and vindictive practice. It is particularly indulged in bylazy elements in the British press. it is caricature journalism. It’s usually directed at members of our Royal Family.The first step is to try to paint the target a caricature. In Prince Philip’s case, this has centred on taking obvious examples of humour received as that and categorising these as “gaffes.”
The caricature used is thus of someone who is claimed to be "gaffe-prone." This of course breeds this spectacularly lazy form of journalism.
The lazy journalist merely asks someone what Prince Philip has just said, finds a witty comment and then beats this up as the latest "shock gaffe". I expect that a computer programme will soon be developed to do this.
The unfortunate result is that even fair and experienced journalists find it difficult to ignore something which has been artificially manufactured as newsworthy.
This contrived capture of the news is something which serious journalists should consider carefully. Should they be mere tools in the hands of people who abuse the privileges which the media enjoy for the most important reasons?
Prince Philip is of course a more substantial person than this caricature. But some journalists never let the truth get in the way of a headline. The public is beginning to see through this robotic campaign. They recognize Prince Philip for the formidable man he is.
Now this lazy breed of journalist has found a new target, HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.In response to a question about the death of a participant in the Duke of Edinburg’s award scheme, Prince Edward stated the obvious. This is that a sense of adventure and a certain degree of danger attracts people to the scheme. It has, he said, a "risk element … a sense that you could die doing this".
This has led to charges in Australia and in the London Independent and The Times that this was….you guessed it… a ”gaffe”.
…."gaffe" rejected by those who know…
But according to Lanai Vasek and Caroline Overington in The Australian (31/10) the consensus in Australia is swinging behind the Prince. Politicians and supporters of the scheme say he was essentially right when he said bubble-wrapped young people want and need a little danger in their lives.
The Australian published the following comments.
Tim Hawkes, headmaster of the Kings School, where the bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award is compulsory for all Year 9 students, and which has been undertaken by more than half a million Australians, said it was "crucial" that youth get exposed to risk.
"We are in grave risk of adding to an already bubble-wrapped generation if we deny children, and boys in particular, some adventure in their life," Dr Hawkes said.
Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis concurred. "Any initiative that gets young people off the lounge and active in the great outdoors should be applauded," she said. "Obviously, the loss of any young life is a tragedy (but) as long as proper safety precautions are taken by organisers and participants, there's no reason why young people can't engage in outdoor adventure."
NSW Minister for Sport Kevin Greene said the Duke of Edinburgh Award was important in helping young people "prepare to face challenges with confidence".
Sally Weatherson, whose son, Jake, received a gold award from Prince Edward this week, said no child would willingly dice with death, but Jake himself said the fear of death was "definitely a factor for me".
"If you do something that is straight-edged and straight-laced, its just boring. You don't push your boundaries if you don't take risks and that's what (Duke of Edinburgh) is all about," he said. The national chairman of the award, Larry Anthony, said in a statement the scheme was designed to be experienced "in the flesh, in real environments, and sometimes outside your comfort zone … equipping and empowering you for whatever you decide to do with your life".
Caricature journalism, the refuge of the lazy and vindictive, does not encourage great confidence in the media. It is unfair to those who know their role is far more serious than that.