Today brought the news that Dr Garret FitzGerald, the former Taoiseach of Ireland, died peacefully after a short illness at the age of 85. 85? That’s the same ages as Queen Elizabeth who, at the time of writing, is in Ireland.
RTE Television showed a documentary on FitzGerald within one day of his death (available here until June 9). Did the editors get into a frenzy and magically produce 70 minutes of good material within a matter of hours? Of course not. Like any good news team, they had it in the can and ready to go. If there is one certainty, it is that people die.
Imagine, for a second, that the Queen was to suddenly prove her mortality in the coming days. Every newspaper and television studio probably has more material on this guaranteed story than any other before. So, when I first get news that she has become an ex-Queen, I will ignore the media orgy and do one of the following: take a canoe and go down a beautiful river, ride a bike in a given direction until I reach an ocean, or climb some mountains. I think that I will genuinely fear for journalism and newspapers and their collective race to the bottom on that day, and I would rather stay away.
If I was an editor though, I know I would have my front page and headline ready.