When I checked Twitter earlier today, I was really taken aback by my timeline which was full of shock in regards to the news of News Corp buying Harlequin, a Canadian based company, in a deal that was worth up to half a billion dollars. Harlequin is a major publisher and produces almost half of the romance books published today–and in a variety of sub-genres and categories. News Corp purchasing Harlequin has already made a huge impact. What impact it may make in future who knows, especially the changes it may make to Harlequin; it’s writers; readers; and the people who work for the company, including Carina Press.
However, true to form and like many other other articles recently written by men on romance, the cheap jokes–and the term bodice rippers–came out in force to describe the deal that was worth half a billion dollars. Because that’s how some male journalists from CNN and The Globe and Mail view a substantial transaction that will probably have changes in the future about the direction of Harlequin and even the genre itself in many ways. This shows the extent of the decline of journalistic reporting standards. CNN should be renamed the LOST channel since their coverage of the missing plane MH370 is on 24/7, and is overshadowing larger and more important events in the world which has bigger ramifications. Instead of focusing on the situation in Ukraine which has far-reaching consequences, or the two hundred girls who were abducted in Nigeria, which barely got any coverage, they’re focusing and speculating on a past event which is sad. But they’re also speculating to conspiracies and even outlandish notions. It’s telling that their ratings have risen due to this because they’re not reporting facts or important issues. They’re becoming more sensationalised and speculative in their reporting. It’s the same reason people have tuned into the Discovery and History channels watching over the top and sensationalised shows like Ancient Aliens because it’s not about facts but the entertainment factor.
The way CNN MONEY has handled their coverage of News Corp purchasing Harlequin is another sign that they focus on what they perceive to be entertaining, instead of focusing on the impact this deal may have for a wide range of people. It’s sad, disappointing and not up to journalistic standards. So while these journalists are snickering and snarking about this multi-millionaire deal and a genre they perceive to be unimportant, let me state some important facts.
Romance is a huge genre; it’s part of a multi-million dollar industry and it helps publishers publish other genres such as literary fiction, which isn’t as profitable as the critical acclaim it gets. Romance as a genre is also one of the few that is able to adapt, change and live on while others have struggled to retain its readers and popularity. I can’t not help but think this is the reason why it’s devalued because it is a genre written mainly by women and aimed at women. It promotes positive aspects about themes of sexuality, emotions, relationships–and most importantly, they are bloody good entertaining stories. It’s no coincidence that the most popular movies, books and shows and even music have romance in some form. It’s appealing to a wide range of audience because it calls to us all. It is not something to be ashamed, snarked or sniggered at.
So while there are more reports of Romance and Bodice rippers in the headlines, especially by publications like CNN Money and The Globe and Mail, the real last laugh is from Murdoch. He’s a savvy business man and knows that Romance is a popular and profitable genre. But I am concerned about the repercussions of this deal, because of the potential changes it will bring and that may not be positive for all. So instead of exploring these issues, these journalists end up sniggering over cheap jokes over romance and outdated ones at that, which just shows the lack of research and knowledge about a genre they know nothing about. Meanwhile, CNN continues its transformation into the LOST channel where they find the secret mysterious island, and find the answer about why the polar bear was there in the first place.
Romance will continue to grow, adapt and be profitable. Authors and readers alike will keep on contributing to a billionaire dollar business where women are at the forefront.
P.S Michael Buband. Don’t give up your day job while you still have it. I hear print media is declining in sales year on year. And with your quality of reporting about financial issues, especially over a half billion dollar deal Please don’t write romance books. Your example of a romance deal was poor, archaic, and an overwrought cliched mess. I give it a F- because it was shite.