A Good Home, Insight

Fighting with Journalists

I’ve been cheating on you, my friends. 

Instead of reading your posts and replying to them at late night or morning, I’ve been reading stories from across the pond.

And before I knew it, I was smack-dab in the middle of a heated fight.

For a mild-mannered, disabled, Canadian author, this is an unfamiliar situation. And that, plus my former profession, may be the only things I have in common with royal reporters.

Royal reporters (RRs, for short) are being fact-checked, corrected, chastised for sloppy practices by hundreds of Twitter-users every day, many of whom are providing evidence of what they see as shoddy treatment of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

Blog Photo - MM and PH smiling

Who are these Twitter users?

In the last few weeks, I’ve received a crash course in the identities and concerns of some of the people who are defending the couple.

I found a complex and diverse group, many of whom appear to be well-educated women (and a few men) from the US, the UK, France, Canada and some African countries.

Many are “black or brown”, but some are white, mixed-race or other.  They include university professors, journalists, businesspeople, retired educators and other professionals.

Many never followed the royal family until Meghan Markle got engaged to Prince Harry.  They were appalled by the stories in the UK media, particularly the tabloids, and their readers’ replies.

They expressed shock that anyone can “verbally abuse or lie” about the royal family without being held accountable.

Marrying a royal is worse for a mixed-race woman: there’s racism and sexism involved too.  (Say goodbye to your good reputation.) Tabloid ‘click-bait’ headlines, instigating hateful responses to the young royals, are numerous.

Wikipedia describes View Park−Windsor Hills, where the duchess’ mother lives, as “one of the wealthiest primarily African-American areas in the United States” but tabloid stories called her home and neighbourhood “gang-scarred”.

Blog Photo - MM at British Fashion Awards - Credit Harper's BazaarBlog Photo - MM story - W and K at Bafta - Credit Kensington Palace

More recently, a supporter juxtaposed photos of the duchess and her sister-in-law, both of whom wore one-shouldered dresses, just weeks apart. The supporter noted that the duchess had been called ‘vulgar’ but her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, was called ‘ethereal’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘princess-like’ in some tabloids.

The unending double-standard galvanized some Twitter-users:

“It has certainly turned me from being a passive observer of our into an activist for fairness & the protection of a woman trying to live her life! It is disgusting & racist how she is treated and deserves to be called out!”

Earlier, the duchess spearheaded a massively successful fundraising cookbook of recipes by the women of Grenfell, a mostly poor high-rise neighbourhood in London that was devastated by fire.  Ironically, the tabloids then linked her to terrorism.

Blog Photo - MM favourite snack - avocado

She’s been linked to drought, murder and human rights abuses, all because she likes avocados on her toast.

She’s been linked to environmental damage. That’s because, at 7 months pregnant and just 2 days before visiting Morocco at the UK government’s request, she accepted a ride back from New York to London on a friend’s private airplane. 

Blog Photo - MM and PH in Morocco - Credit Kensington Palace

Supporters of the duchess have watched all this with keen and anxious eyes. And they’re making it almost impossible for a royal reporter to write a story without a response from Twitter these days.  Users are quick to spot inaccuracies and perceived unfairness

It’s a remarkable media watch: the scrutiny is skilled, informed and fierce. Many responses are calm and evidence-based, but others are dismissive or furious. Some include charges of racism, which royal reporters say is unjust.

While most of the monitored reporters work for the UK’s tabloids, some also write for The Telegraph, The Times and even Canada’s own Maclean’s news magazine.

Earlier this week, The Telegraph released a report by a European consulting firm. The firm said it studied the identities of Twitter users defending the duchess and found a “network” working closely together to attack royal reporters.

The existence of this network, the report said, “could point to an orchestrated campaign to manipulate public opinion by an organization or state.” 

One RR tweeted: “You have to ask, in whose interest might it be to foment discord between the UK and the US over something as anodyne as a royal marriage?”

The findings and reporters’ replies elicited outbursts of dismissive laughter on Twitter. One hilarious response followed another. But after the laughter, there was serious concern.

Shockingly, respected Harper’s Bazaar journalist Omid Scobie was one of several the report named in the “network”.

Blog Photo - MM story Omid Scobie

UK journalist and photographer Benjamin Wareing quickly responded with a series of posts, questioning the findings:

“Some of the biggest accounts in this research, I KNOW aren’t bots… Reports of a ‘swarm of Meghan bots’, with implied suggestions it is Russian involvement, seem exaggerated to me and, in a few cases, targeted to dismiss differing views or to shut down certain debates.”

When someone tweeted that Barack Obama was listed too, Wareing replied, simply:
“Jesus Christ…”

Canada’s Maclean’s magazine carried the story next, this time written by a local journalist.  That’s when I unwittingly jumped into the fray.

I breezily commented that some royal reporters deserve to be held accountable (“feet to the fire”) and that some of the alleged “bots” are doing a great job of fact-checking journalists and pointing out slip-ups and bias.

Her reply surprised me: “Your defense of threats, vitriol and personal attacks is well, indefensible.”

Huh? Nowhere had I done so.

Yes, I’ve seen threats: people threatening to stop reading the RR’s columns, or those threatening to keep monitoring their stories.

But the journalist’s reply made me understand that some RR’s do feel under attack and get triggered; they consider themselves victims too.  

Soon after, she received dozens of tweets, most calling out reporters’ hypocrisy.  Examples:

“And your defense of threats, vitriol and personal attacks on the Duchess of Sussex is well, indefensible also.”

“Was it polite criticism when people continuously deliver death threats & vitriol to the DoS, Prince Harry, & their unborn child?”

“Your selective outrage is disgusting. The DoS has been subjected to the most disgusting character assassination of any public figure I can think about and you could not care less about it.”

This reply came with a graphic:

“Jesus, Patricia, little research will confirm Duchess Meghan had millions of fans years before Harry. did you expect us to accept yr lies and innuendos because reporters never ever got pushback?”

Blog Photo - MM Twitter comment

Strangely, the volume of responses made me feel responsible for whatever came next. Some RR’s had complained of threats, so I monitored the comments. I found expressions of outrage, frustration, some insults too — but no threats. 

In recent weeks, some RR’s have retreated to their bunkers: they’re blocking their fiercest critics and supporting each other against criticism. 

It won’t cease hostilities, though. There’s no sign that most of the duke and duchess’ supporters will overlook practices they consider unjust and unethical.  

But as a former journalist, I believe this is “a teachable moment”.

RR’s could learn a lot about their readers and find original stories if brave enough to talk with the people criticising them. It could be a mutual education.  

I’m not holding my breath, though.

 

 

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A Good Home

A Mystery – Maybe You Can Help

Blog Photo - Stained Glass

This stained-glass picture has been in our family for decades. When the light shines on the glass, the colours are more gorgeous than seen here. But it’s a bit of a mystery.

We are Canadian, so we recognize the iconic moose and maple leaf images. Canada is also a monarchy and Queen Elizabeth is our head of state, so the crown may represent that. But we’re not sure.

The neck and bodice look like a noble-woman’s from earlier centuries. The wings? And the other images?

Have you any ideas?  Do share! Or guess. It’s bound to be better than anything I’ve come up with.

A Good Home, Flowers

Three Bloomin’ Good Deals on Flowers

It’s been snowing all bloomin’ day.

Everything’s covered with the fluffy white stuff, and it shows no sign of letting up.

If you’re a Southern Ontario gardner, this is not your favourite season — unless you’ve got one of those indoor greenhouse thingamijiggies and have already planted flower seeds.

I don’t have one of those things, so I opt for the least expensive flowers that can be bought at a store and will last a long time.

Blog Photo - Begonia late summer 2017

My pot of Cyclamen, bought last winter, bloomed and bloomed indoors till May, then continued to bloom outdoors through the summer. At $5.99 at the nearby plant nursery, it was a gift!

As you may recall, the only thing I claim any expertise in is getting Amaryllis bulbs to rebloom.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis and Snow wider shot

After their indoor bloom ends (soon, if not already), I let the leaves grow. In spring, I bring them outside in their pots and water them till August. I then allow the leaves to dry, shake off the soil, and keep the bulb in a brown paper bag in the cellar for about four months before potting them again. 

A bulb that costs $7.00 may give three different sets of blooms, then will rebloom at least once a year for a long time to come.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms CU2

And then there’s This Thing Whose Name I Don’t Know.  Sold as cut flowers in grocery stores for about $6 or $7 a bunch, this lovely flower has staying power. I cut the stems short and keep adding fresh water everyday, and these flowers bloom for nearly two weeks — a real achievement among cut flowers.

Blog Photo - Flowers Orange

No doubt one of you readers will know what it is. The grocery store clerk didn’t.

My best wishes,

Cynthia.

 

 

A Good Home, Gratitude, New Book - Myrtle's Game

Flowers – and Thanks

Author-gardener-library professional Sheryl Normandeau has this quote on her blog and it sums up my own situation well:

“I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.” – Jennifer Yane.

I’m far behind on blogging and promoting the new book.  So your helping Lauren and me — by buying it, recommending it to schools, libraries and  parents and sending us supportive messages —  matters more than I can adequately describe.

These flowers are to thank you for your recent support of Myrtle’s new adventures.

Blog Photo - Flowers Orange

Special thanks to the following Myrtle the Purple Turtle fans:

Sheryl Normandeau, the Alberta writer, nature-lover and library professional; Sheryl’s posts and books are treats to the mind, soul and stomach.

Jennifer O’Meara, an outstanding Canadian journalist who will one day publish a book of her own, I know.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis striped CU

Lavinia Ross, the unique musician-writer and vineyard owner in Oregon, who, with husband Rick, runs Salmon Brook Farms. Listening to your music now, Lavinia!

Wendy MacDonald, the British Columbia writer-photographer-podcaster whose soulful poetry, pictures, prose and strong faith are a balm to the spirit.

Blog Photo - Spring 2018 Trillium duo

Laurie Graves, whose own fictional character Maya makes me wish I had a Book of Everything and could time-travel too!

Blessings to you all!