jump to navigation

Disgraceful Irish Independent report December 7, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in Class, Media and Journalism.

On Saturday, the Irish Independent published one of the most disgraceful pieces of reporting I have seen in a long time: “Amid the usual teen court dramas, a case that will shock the nation” by Dearbhail McDonald.

The report was from the children’s court. Five teenagers have been charged with ‘defilement’ of a girl under 17. Four of them were in court on Thursday, for procedural matters before trial.

The details of the allegations justify the word ‘shock’ that the subeditor used in the headline (McDonald does not use that word in her report): a 15-year-old girl

who drank a bottle of vodka bought for her in a local Lidl, alleges that each of the boys had pulled down her leggings and underwear and had sex with her individually at her home. “Line up, guys,” is what the girl says she heard a male voice say before she had sex with the fourth boy.

But the paper appears to believe that the real shock is that the defendants are middle-class, a characteristic raised in the second paragraph of the article:

The professional, middle-class couple, who seemed at sea in a court that all too frequently processes the life and crimes of troubled children in care, in turn looked to their barrister Conor McKenna for support.

[Is it the case in the Children’s Court that he is ‘their’ barrister or is he their son’s?]

The article is 874 words long. I classify a little under two thirds of those (547 words) as neutral, consisting of straightforward reporting of the proceedings and the alleged offences. A  quarter of the article (205 words) is given to sympathetically reporting the middle class background, with phrases like “glancing back nervously at his mother and father” and “four well-dressed teenage boys from an upmarket South County Dublin suburb“.

In the other tenth of the article, McDonald contrasts the defendants in this case with others who appeared in the Children’s Court earlier that day: “routine procession of tracksuit-clad boys” — note that in addition to drawing the distinction between the clothing, these were merely ‘boys’ as against ‘schoolboys’. And she reports: “Another, supported by his granny…“. If the middle-class boys were supported by a ‘mother and father’, why was this defendant’s supporter not his grandmother?

Nowhere are we told whether or not any of the ‘tracksuit-clad’ defendants glanced nervously, or whether the grandmother did or did not look to ‘their’ barrister for support, or if she too ‘was at sea’. But why would we be told that? Isn’t that they way of the working class?

There are a few words  — nine — that do convey a limited sense of concern for the working class boys in the court. Those nine words remind us that among the others in Children’s Court that day are some who are “living in care or battling alcohol and drug problems.” But even that attempt at balance is stripped of value when you notice that, in contrast to the five middle-class boys whose parents’ struggle is made as real and individual as is possible under the constraints of reporting from the Children’s Court, those are the problems of “a routine procession” of the tracksuit-clad.

Before we get the Stupid Indo Statement post, do have a read November 2, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in Far Right, Media and Journalism.



So the Sunday Independent makes a predictable defence of the racist mob that targeted Roma homes in Waterford last week.

I’m not going to bother picking apart Carol’s arguments here – instead, I am going to tell you about a story I’m working on which illustrates how dangerous such writing can be.

[I have modified the quote by using donotlink.com instead of the Sunday Independent so that the paper’s search engine position does not improve from people here reading it.]

Miliband, Merseyside and the Sun June 13, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Media and Journalism.

Genuinely bizarre to read that Ed Miliband agreed to have himself photographed by the Sun promoting a World Cup edition. Not least because as reported earlier in the week the boycott on Merseyside of the Sun in the wake of the tragic events at Hillsborough in 1989 and its reporting of that event continues to this day.As the Guardian notes:

Despite several apologies down the years, the Merseyside boycott of the Sun has held firm for the past 25 years.

And it retains its power to the extent that postal workers on Merseyside are refusing to deliver a promotional issue. The postal workers are recorded as saying that they will face any possible consequences, though the Royal Mail appears to be taking a fairly measured approach to this.

What possessed Miliband? Perhaps, as some suggest, a wish to cosy up to the Sun. But given that the response was entirely predictable one would wonder what good it did, for anyone, and not least of all for those Labour supporters in Merseyside.

The Sunday Business Post is alive, long live the SBP! June 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Media and Journalism.

This may seem a bit odd for an avowedly left wing site, but the news that the Sunday Business Post has found funding and has left examinership is actually good. The SBP’s socio-economic position is of course problematic, consider aspects of its colour supplement – though those can also be telling as indications of how some are riding out and above the recession. But… it is a good newspaper that aside.

It is also an useful means of getting a read on both political and economic dynamics. Given the Irish Times has essentially gone AWOL in recent times it remains for me at least, an essential part of the mix. Indeed I’m all too aware that sometimes this site can seem to be in a sort of perpetual – if entirely one-sided – conversation with it in that it often sparks ideas for posts and so on. But this is in part because it at least raises issues, most of the time, in a serious fashion and with a lot less of the fluffy commentary that characterises an increasing portion of news media output.

Also, I have to add, where else in the current mainstream Irish newspaper media would find the following in a book review?

Crisis, as the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci noted, “consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born”. Packer’s is a reporter’s journey into this material and existential crisis as it unfurls across the US, from the derelict lots of Youngstown, Ohio to the foreclosed dream homes in the sun in Tampa, Florida, via the Ayn Rand acolytes in Silicon Valley and the corridors of power on Washington and Wall Street.

Let’s talk about traditional news media online… June 16, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Media and Journalism.

The Phoenix has a good piece in the (second?) last issue on the woes at the Irish Times, and in passing it references the dismal redesign of the IT website. I’ve mentioned that previously, and it really is striking.

Only recently have articles actually had bold subheads and as for the multiple pagination, well, sure, I get the theory that more pages hit means higher figures, but I’m not sure it quite works like that and in any event a site that makes simple reading a chore isn’t one that is going to keep readers. I find the multiple pagination odd. It breaks the rhythm of a written piece, and in a way that is fundamentally different to sequential printed pages where repetition across years has smoothed away any irritation.

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve almost entirely stopped reading comment on the IT because it’s so inaccessible. Stuff pops up in random places, occasionally the front page but often elsewhere. The other day, when they ran their latest IT poll that wasn’t the headline piece on the front page. Now it’s not for me to second guess the IT’s finances, but these polls cost money and one would imagine they’d want to recoup that by highlighting it. But no, look at this screen grab.


Blink and you’d miss it because instead of being one of the four or five ‘main’ stories it’s there on the right hand column under News. Sure, it’s the first one, but… it’s not exactly highlighted. And is the news that Michael Noonan intends to stress test Irish banks next year genuinely more ‘newsy’ than that?

The weird thing is that the actual printed version isn’t that bad, at least during the week. Clear sections, good layout, whatever about one’s feeling’s on the content. So it’s almost incomprehensible why they’d want the online version to be so user-unfriendly in terms of approach.

Anyhow, that multiple pagination, Farhad Manjoo on Slate has some interesting findings on that very issue here… if you can make it to the end.

Social Justice in Media March 23, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Media and Journalism.
add a comment

Recordings from the NearFM conference are available  online now


Another newspaper goes for an online redesign… Ah well. March 13, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Media and Journalism.

Well, another week and another dismal revamp of a newspaper in its online format. As Garibaldy noted recently, the Sunday Independent along with its stable of companion papers saw a reformatting of their website making it even more tortuous than the original to use (and by the way being updated much later in the day therefore leaving any analysis to the late afternoon).

And this weekend the Irish Times went the same way. Larger text! Which is not an improvement when to navigate through articles one must click on successive pages across which they are now broken up (Slate.com which does much the same at least offers the full article as a single page option). Bigger pictures! A bit too big – and it raises the question what’s the point given that raw news is the product the IT offers with the photos an additional extra.

Then there’s the curiously small ‘THE IRISH TIMES” logo (very low resolution too now I think of it) set to the left and top of the page. Very strange, and then not one but two menu bars, one at the top of the page for Property, Cars, Dating (Dating? Tis far from here that Douglas Gageby was reared) and another with the contents of the paper.

I’m not sure what to make of the ‘Debate’ section, which has replaced ‘Opinion’. Given the remarkably trolling that typifies the comments section – like, where do the usual suspects get the time is my question – it’s not so much a debate as a rolling shouting match.

It’s all very… bitty, and it feels lightweight. Also it’s a lot more difficult to find stuff. If that were all it would be bad enough, but there’s a generic feel to the overall approach, with light blue used for highlights and so on and so forth.

As it happened it brought to mind this site. It’s not identical, but it’s close enough. Compare and contrast.

And oddly, someone in comments beneath this apologia/explanation argues that it look as if it was a ‘standard CMS template with the IT logo at the top’. That may be accurate or not, but it sure doesn’t feel too well developed.

It’s odd, I never thought they could make it worse than the previous incarnation.

Now, as to the contents…

GCN is 25 years old March 3, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Community, Gay Community News, Gender Issues, History, Human Rights, Inequality, LGBT Rights, media, Media and Journalism.
1 comment so far

A thesis proved February 18, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Media and Journalism.
add a comment

Pat Leahy has a amusing column in which exception is taken to Joe Higgins’ use of the phrase ‘capitalist media’.

Higgins lumped us in with the Government and other agents of oppression of the workers, in terms that make it clear just who is good, and who is evil.

Unfortunately the piece finishes with a comment on Richard Curran’s ‘devastating’ INBS documentary which of course also aimed make it clear just who is good, and who is evil.

All the while staying well clear of pinning any responsibility on well..

The Donnybrook Consensus (or: “April Fool”?) April 1, 2012

Posted by Tomboktu in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Ireland, media, Media and Journalism.

I switched off Marian Funincane’s programme on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning. She had four people on her opening panel: a Fine Gael TD, a former Fianna Fáil minister, a business correspondent from Independent Newspapers (semi-retired), and a business man.

I wonder how they are going to get a balanced discussion out of that mix. How does that selection of four get even near the diversity of experience, opinion and situation of the population RTÉ is meant to serve?

It’s not as if there are no choices available to RTÉ:

  • Not one trade unionist;
  • not one unemployed person;
  • not one person from an organisation representing unemployed people;
  • nobody from the campaign against the household charge;
  • nobody — campaigner or academic — opposed to delaying rather than cancelling the promissory notes;
  • nobody from a think tank or research group (like the Nevin Institute or TASC or the UCD School of Social Justice or the Privatisation and PPPs (P4) Research Group at UL …);
  • nobody from any of the community based organistions campaigning against austerity or for an end to poverty — the Ballyhea protest, the Kilbarrick CDP, St Michael’s Estate, Rialto Residents … ;
  • nobody from an NGO working to change Ireland like Barnardos or the EAPN or Social Justice Ireland or Claiming Our Future or the Community Workers Co-operative or Focus Ireland.

There are more than a handful of unemployed people available. Heck, more people are on the live register (439,589 in January 2012) than gave Fianna Fáil a first preference in the general election a year ago (387,358).

I know it’s April 1, but, RTÉ, you’re not being funny when you do that.

%d bloggers like this: