The Guardian website has a 'Monarchist or Republican?' filter on their front page for those who don't want to read about the royal birth. Click 'Republican' and everything Windsor-related vanishes, leaving the reader to concentrate on the real Guardian nitty-gritty of flaccid left-wing pieties and posh food (as well as, perhaps, etymologically spurious reasons why we shouldn't use the term 'nitty-gritty').
It's an either-or gimmick, and, ever the contrarian, I'm ambivalent about it. It's certainly a smart way of drumming up publicity - a few US news websites have picked up on it, possibly because anti-monarchism is a curious anomaly according to the American idea of Britain. It also builds on the Guardian's liberal brand, and on this specific topic the paper has a certain amount of deserved credibility - they challenged the law that makes it illegal to advocate the abolition of the monarchy in print (the Treason Felony Act 1848) and established that the law is, in a judge's words, a 'relic of a bygone age' which would not stand up to the Human Rights Act.
But on the other hand, it's blatantly a bit weaselly. There are any number of divisive, column-inch-hogging stories where they could have offered the same service - the Olympics, party conference seasons, elections (here and in the US), death of Thatcher, etc. (It's possible that they did offer the same service in these instances and I haven't been paying attention - in which case everything that follows is irrelevant). There was no 'no Thatcher for me!' button, say, because newspapers are not user-generated content: one of their functions is to reflect and also determine a sense of what is newsworthy, and once that is abdicated to readers newspapers no longer do what newspapers are supposed to do. They take a stand on what they think is important, and we readers respond to that proposition. Thatcher's death was an important happening in the world, and to have allowed readers to screen it out would be to tear up a newspaper into solipsistic rags. I'd prefer a news agenda that never ever involves Ed Balls' unfortunate face, but it would be foolish were Fleet Street actually to indulge this immaturity of mine.
It seems the Guardian acknowledges that the royal birth is important - and while the UK is a constitutional monarchy, regardless of whether or not that is a good thing, it surely is. But they also want to simultaneously backtrack on this - the story is, apparently, trivial enough that readers can still get a good sense of what is going on in the world with it excised. They want it both ways - to weigh the story's objective importance equally with its putative (and incompatible) moral importance. Like I say - weaselly.
Why abandon usual newspaper style - i.e. why not tell the story and then slam the royals in the comments page and the leader? Is the 'Republican?' filter just a wish-fulfilment, picturing the news agenda republicans want but are failing to create? I wonder if the Grauniad has been led to commit such a large, over-the-top misstep by their own anxiety - the anxiety that the republican movement is not merely losing the argument but failing even to make its case heard. And there's no better way to make it clear you've lost an argument than raising your voice.