Need a Press Style guide?
Is it just me? Or does anyone else get stressed when there are inconsistencies in reporting? Can we, the media, not agree on terms of reference and create a style guide to use communally and consistently?
I was almost driven mad by the visit to Ireland of Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall. The reason for my annoyance and frustration was the number of ways in which this couple were referred to by media. Every time I heard or read a story about them, they were given a different title.
In advance of the trip, theJournal.ie (May 8th) published an article which began: “Prince Charles will visit Ireland this month, on his first official joint visit with his partner Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall…”
On May 17th in an article by Lorna Siggins in the Irish Times (online) the photo caption read: “Britain’s Prince Charles and his partner Camilla Parker-Bowles will visit Mullaghmore…”
The actual article opened: “Britain’s Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker-Bowles begin their four-day trip to Ireland on Tuesday….”
On Tuesday 19 May, the Limerick Leader (online) ran a headline “Prince Charles and Camilla arrive in Shannon for Irish visit”
The following day (Wed 20th) the Irish Times showed “Scenes from Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to….”. In pictures, the Independent.ie, ran with headline “Prince Charles and Camilla visit Ireland” and RTE News Online, on the same day, used a photo caption which read “President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina have attended a private dinner, hosted by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla”.
The official website of the British Monarchy (www.royal.gov.uk) uses the title “The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall”.
There are two issues here:
The first is context:
They are travelling outside of the UK and the commonwealth countries. Therefore, as a ‘style guide,’ should we always use the preface “Britain’s Prince…” in the same way that we would say the American President, Donald Trump? If the person’s title doesn’t directly relate to Ireland, could we agree to include the country in the description as an identifier?
The second issue is title. What title should we use?
“The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall” seems fine.
I like “Charles and Camilla” (without any HRH – a bit like Brad and Angelina)
I can live with “Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall”
And I might even stretch to Prince Charles “and his wife” (although I dislike the impersonal ‘wife’ without a name)….
However, I take issue with:
…”his partner Camilla”. Where did that come from? (surely there isn’t a journalist in Ireland who is unaware of their marriage and all the controversy surrounding it).
Or the reference to her as “Camilla Parker-Bowles” (which I don’t think she has used since her marriage). Keeping your maiden name should be a woman’s choice, not a media imposition!
Every time I heard a reference to these visitors, they were titled in a different way. It annoyed me so much that I hardly heard/read the substance of the stories. Could we not agree on a style guide/journalistic protocol which would cover visits like this?
A little consistency would go a long way.
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