Meghan Markle and the Colonial Roots of Tabloid Media

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sitting down with Oprah Winfrey on her prime time special.

Lori Lee Oates
Memorial University of Newfoundland

The tabloid press in the United Kingdom was on the receiving end of serious allegations of racism from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on 7 March 2021. This occurred after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah Winfrey to discuss the exit from their royal roles in January 2020. Women Members of Parliament had previously signed an open letter condemning the “colonial undertones” of the media coverage of Markle in October of 2019.

And yet many remain unaware of the extent to which today’s tabloid media was forged by the British political class to control and distribute colonial narratives, particularly during the mid-to-late nineteenth century. This has, of course, been well documented by scholars such as Simon Potter in News and the British World: The Emergence of an Imperial Press System (2003) and Chandrika Kaul in Reporting the Raj (2004). Gauri Viswanathan has also demonstrated how the education system and English literature was used as a tool of imperial control in Masks of Conquest (2014). Such work highlights the longstanding desire of colonial powers to control narratives about empire, the colonies, and the relationships between Indigenous citizens and colonial settlers. Continue reading “Meghan Markle and the Colonial Roots of Tabloid Media”

The Global Challenges of Digital Newspapers

newspaper

David Thackeray
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @d_thackeray

Among the most frustrating experiences of my PhD were days spent scouring local newspapers at the ramshackle (and now closed) British Library Newspaper Reading Room at Colindale, and the inexplicably dark microfilm room at Cambridge University Library. Spending a few weeks working at the latter in the winter would provide good training for life at an Antarctic research base. With these experiences in mind I have been surprised at how large a part newspapers have played in my current research on the history of British trade identities in the UK and wider Empire/Commonwealth.

Recent years have seen a worldwide explosion in access to digitised newspapers, which obviously opens up a range of exciting new opportunities to researchers in imperial and global history. Having never previously conducted research in Australian archives, I was able to access thousands of articles from the National Library of Australia from the comfort of my home, significantly shaping both my post-doctoral funding application and the issues I was to explore in the archive itself. Yet the ever-growing range of newspaper material available also offers significant challenges to how we do research and train our students. Continue reading “The Global Challenges of Digital Newspapers”