The Weekly: A royal Wildcat gives birth

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CHRISTOPHER VAZQUEZ: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Christopher Vazquez. Welcome to The Weekly. In this podcast, we’ll fill you in on the past week’s news and give you a look at what it was like to report on the royal baby’s birth.

VAZQUEZ: Here’s what you need to know this week. On Wednesday, Evanston police took two individuals into custody after responding to reports of shots fired in west Evanston. An officer heard shots fired near the intersection of Payne Street and Dewey Avenue and entered a car chase with a silver Jeep believed to be involved, according to Evanston police Cmdr. Ryan Glew. The car then drove into a fence and police found a handgun near the vehicle. Both Orrington Elementary School and Evanston Township High School went on lockdown, though ETHS was not advised to do so by the Evanston Police Department.

VAZQUEZ: Also on Wednesday, a roof fire broke out at 1740 Hinman Ave. The fire was put out by the Evanston and Wilmette Fire Departments within an hour with no injuries reported.

VAZQUEZ: On Monday, Northwestern’s Theta Alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta hosted a panel discussion focused on the experiences of black immigrants. The panel was titled “LOST: Stories of Diaspora.”

VAZQUEZ: Last Thursday at Evanston Rocks, Israel Story gave a live performance of the podcast “The Wall – A Look At The Barriers That Separate Us, And Those That Bring Us Closer Together.” The event was a part of Northwestern Israel Week, organized by Northwestern Hillel.

VAZQUEZ: And for our top story this week, Northwestern alumna Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, gave birth this week to a 7-pound, 3-ounce baby boy. His name is Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor and he is the first interracial child in the monarchy’s recent history. Two Daily editors covered the birth.

ELLA BROCKWAY: I took a family vacation to England in 2011.

VAZQUEZ: This is Ella Brockway, The Daily’s Sports Editor. She was one of the writers behind The Daily’s coverage of the royal baby’s birth.

BROCKWAY: And we were there in July of 2011. So it was three months after William and Kate had gotten married and the whole country was still on this, like, post-royal wedding peak, and my mom had always been into the royal family too. She was like a huge Princess Diana fan. So I think I just kind of caught on to her fascination with that and especially going to England and being able to like walk through Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace and all these places. I was really into it. And then as I got older, and I realized there was like a lot of history and culture that intersected with that I just stayed interested in it.

VAZQUEZ: Where were you when Meghan Markle’s pregnancy was first announced?

BROCKWAY: I’ve got to look back to when that was. Let’s see. Literally her Wikipedia page has so much happening. You literally go from Kappa Kappa Gamma at Northwestern to backing Hillary Clinton during the election. It was October 15. I was getting ready to follow their Australia and New Zealand tour. And usually when there’s royal news, my mom wakes up before I do because she’s on East Coast time and she’ll text me and be like, “check like @kensingtonroyal or @sussexroyal now,” so she probably texted me that morning when it came out. And I think the rumors had been flowing for a little bit. I listened to a lot of royalty-themed podcasts too. So they had been all abuzz in the weeks before they went on that tour. And I think it was right at the start of that tour that they finally announced that she was pregnant. And I was just, I had been expecting it because I’d heard on “Royally Obsessed,” nice plug for that good podcast, but I had been like kind of aware that it was coming in the news and after the wedding I thought she was gonna get pregnant really quickly.

VAZQUEZ: And how closely did you follow the pregnancy both as a journalist and as someone who’s just interested in it?

BROCKWAY: I really think as a journalist — well see, I don’t want to do royalty journalism or even pop culture journalism. I want to do sports, which is kind of like the opposite end of that. I was really following as a fan of the royals and, like I said, listening to a lot of those podcasts and stuff that had been talking about it for a while. But then in my work for The Daily I was talking to Troy Closson, one of our In Focus editors, and we were like, “we can turn this into an opportunity to get content for The Daily, too,” so that was — it was weirdly specific to The Daily Northwestern that I started following it as a journalist.

TROY CLOSSON: We wanted to cover it in The Daily.

NARRATION: This is Troy Closson.

CLOSSON: We want to plan a special issue and all the different — like, none of that actually happened, but all the fake fun stories that we could do whether that was high-end babywear stores and where is Meghan Markle gonna buy her baby clothes? Or like, she supposedly has a past boyfriend who went to Northwestern. Let’s talk to him. And so I think thinking of all the fun that we could have with this story just brought us two together.

BROCKWAY: I will say that (Troy’s and my) royal fandom is not too well reciprocated or received in the newsroom. So when we were making a whole budget of stories that we could write for this proposed royalty issue that never happened, we got on to discussing pop culture in general and started talking about the Vogue 73 Questions videos, and the rest of the newsroom challenged me to make 73 questions that could be asked about the royal baby and when all the sports content went through for the night I sat down and I wrote all 73 of them. I think, let’s see what I have. Will the baby be considered a “legacy” by the Northwestern University admissions office? What is the history of British Royal Family attending universities in America and how would that predict whether or not the baby would attend an American university? What are the chances that you would give birth to twins? Which news organization will receive the first post-birth interview with Meghan and Harry? That ended up being CBS. Will the baby be British? Where will the baby most likely go to school? What will its official title be? Turns out it’s Master. That’s chill. Number 45 was really a collision of my sports and royalty brands. Will the FA Cup Final on May 18 between Manchester City and Watford conflict with the date of the baby’s christening?

VAZQUEZ: Jumping forward a little bit, where were you when Meghan Markle went into labor?

BROCKWAY: Oh, I had just woken up. And this was another instance in which my mom texted me immediately. She was like, I think she just said, “Labor!!” And then my first instinct was to text Troy.

CLOSSON: That, I cannot even explain how stressful of a day that was. I have work at 9 in the morning. And so usually I wake up at like 8:15, just head over and that morning for whatever reason I woke up at like 7:50. And I’m so glad I did because then I checked The Daily Slack and I saw a message from someone that was like, “breaking news” and it showed a notification that like, Meghan Markle’s in labor. And I almost had a heart attack when I saw that in bed because right now in the position that I’m in, I don’t pay a lot of attention to breaking news stuff so I was just like, “OK, I’ll shut that off, go back to sleep.” But then I saw it and I was like, “We need to get a story up immediately.” And so I immediately just started scanning CNN, New York Times, any news outlet that had reported on it and then we just put the story out right away. I started texting Ella.

BROCKWAY: Our goal had been to be one of like, the top hundred outlets that got this news out first when when she finally did give birth. So —

VAZQUEZ: Were you one of the first hundred?

BROCKWAY: I mean, we like to think we were. Troy did the posting on the actual thing and put everything into the WordPress site. And he got it up really quickly. And it did like strangely well on Twitter so I was impressed with how he was able to do that.

VAZQUEZ: This is a really different story than what both you and Ella cover or edit on a usual basis. What was that like to kind of get that break?

CLOSSON: Yeah, I think that was part of the reason why I think we got so close through the process of talking about fun ideas or fun ways to cover it. Because I think for Ella, (it was) taking a break from sports. And for me, I enjoy covering things around race and diversity but taking like — it’s nice, I think, every once in a while to just take a break from the more emotionally taxing stuff and just have fun with a story.

BROCKWAY: The majority of the stories that I write for The Daily are very formulaic, and because they’re sports stories and they’re things that already happened. So they’re never developing stories. So this one was interesting in that it was like, we had to continue to add things throughout the day as more people commented and whether those people commenting were like, Michelle Obama or like, Bob Rowley from Northwestern University. So we had to keep including that.

VAZQUEZ: What was it like to cover it after having just followed it with a personal interest for so long?

BROCKWAY: I guess it was kind of like, because I’ve grown up — and by grown up, I mean like the past five years — I’ve been so invested in reading royal coverage. And if this is the closest I can get to covering the royals and it’s just writing a very short story for a student newspaper that has some slim connection to Meghan Markle, I’ll be content with that. I don’t know if I could do royalty reporting full time in any sense, but I think it was a weirdly unique opportunity and the fact that we were able to produce a story that actually generated like, a lot of clicks on social and got people invested. And it’s such a cool story of a biracial child being born into the royal family now that it was cool to have had The Daily Northwestern be a little part of that, whether it was just the fact that it showed up on someone’s timeline and that’s how they learned about the birth. Like, just thinking about that would be kind of cool.

CLOSSON: This has been such a stressful time in my life waiting for this news to break. I was like, “Can you just have this baby already?” And she was like, so overdue, too. So I think Ella and I both, I feel like to just have this baby done, to have the stories out, now we’re looking to the future. What can we do for the one-year anniversary? Maybe like, a six-month check-in on the baby. So I’m really excited for the future possibilities now because I think all the like stress around when is this baby going to happen, now I can just take a step back and think about the future.

VAZQUEZ: To close off, audio editor Cassidy Jackson asked students about their reactions to the royal baby’s name.
JAZMINE REYES: I am Jazmine Reyes. I am a senior journalism and political science double major.

HANNAH PEREZ: I’m Hannah Perez. I’m a senior and I’m studying theatre.

JAMES WALKER: James Walker. I’m a junior and I’m majoring in neuroscience.

CASSIDY JACKSON: What’s your reaction to the first name? Archie?

REYES: I think it’s more of a nickname if anything. It doesn’t really seem like very royal, if anything. I think when you go back and look at traditional European names, you got a lot of Henrys, James, and then I think this one is just kind of a complete anomaly to the norm – the normal names.

WALKER: It sounds kind of like a dog’s name. I was almost named Rex by my mom. But my dad said it sounds too much like a dog’s name. And then they went on an airplane ride and sat next to somebody and they said, “Oh, what are you thinking of naming the baby?” My mom was like, “We’re between James and Rex.” And the lady was like, “Oh, Rex! That’s my dog’s name!” So that took Rex out of the equation. I have a friend from like, elementary school whose dog’s name is Archie.

JACKSON: What was your reaction in general just to the news of Meghan Markle having a baby?

WALKER: Compared to the wedding, I didn’t care at all. It was cool that Meghan Markle, somebody, especially from Northwestern, was getting married in the royal family. I love the show “Suits.” It’s the only TV show I’ve ever loved, and like she’s obviously central to that. So that was really cool. Her having this child was less exciting for me because once you know someone’s getting married, you kind of expect the child but you don’t expect the marriage until it happens. So I was a lot more excited about the wedding, I guess then the child.

VAZQUEZ: That’s it for The Weekly. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

Email: christophervazquez2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @bychrisvazquez

Email: cassidyjackson2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @cassidykjackson

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