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Archive for May, 2011

Queen, Obama – what more could Ireland want?

May 24th, 2011 Comments off

Well, maybe a complete turnaround in its economic situation, reflects Angela Long

Ireland, always a theatrical country, has been through a massive week of street theatre. Stars of the respective shows were Queen Elizabeth of Britain and President Barack Obama. Almost inevitably, this turned into a tale of two cities, for the old and the young.

And while the queen’s visit sealed a door and formally healed an ancient wound, Obama’s rousing speech in Dublin city centre spoke to the young and raised eyes to the future.

Queen Elizabeth arrived on May 17 – unfortunately, the 37th anniversary of British loyalist bombs in the Irish republic which killed 34 people in Dublin city and county Monaghan. This, it seemed, had not even been taken into account, and was swept under the carpet except for irritated protests by a few left-leaning journalists. The queen was met at carefully-selected venues (for the tourism market) to carefully-selected members of the establishment. Then her show rolled on, through empty streets. This street theatre was eerie; all members of the public were banned from getting near Her Majesty, so terrified were the authorities that even a tomato might land on the royal vehicle.

It was only when the queen, ‘towing her nearly 90-year-old husband’, as one commentator put it, got to Cork city that the authorities relaxed enough to let her meet some ordinary people.

Read more…

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Bin Laden and the twit-o-sphere

May 6th, 2011 Comments off

He was a guy who used digital technology to chilling effect, as do many of his followers. So it was apt, and inevitable, that the first news of Osama Bin Laden’s death came via Twitter, with associates of senior people around the Administration (past and present) blurting out the news.
But, after the first shock and awe, people turned to the established and respected news organisations. As some indication of this, see this page from Columbia Journalism Review online www.cjr.org. One typical response to the survey was from Dalla Abbas: “I saw the news on my facebook newsfeed. Not trusting this as a reliable source, I turned on BBC news to find out that the post had been legitimate.”
When there’s big news, big media is still needed.
The division of what used to be one lumpen mass of news is steadily taking shape. The fissure is developing between ‘breaking news’ – what we used to call ‘I saws’ in the business – and the verification, explanation and analysis that comes on its heels, but needs people who know what they are talking about, and, please deity, who can write.
A major mistake would be for established media to lose its head and become convinced that it has to become the ‘I saw’ on all occasions. This has been happening to an extent, and is one of the reason for the wholesale dumping of sub-editors. Subs are the people who professionalise the copy. See what’s happening in Australia, for example. link to Crikey.com
News professsionals cannot be first at the scene of every story – especially when the US government, for example, is trying to keep it quiet. But the ongoing responsibility of journalists and serious news organisations is to try to be on the ball when it comes to bringing clarity and understanding to the communities they serve.

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Qui custodiet? Marr and the pesky media

May 1st, 2011 Comments off

A MILDLY salacious scandal across the way brings up questions of privacy, prurience and media attitudes when their own ‘go rogue’.

Andrew Marr, the lean and hyperactive BBC frontman, has a distinguished career in print and broadcast behind him. He’s also at the centre of a story both extraordinary and mundane. It’s extraordinary because he, a ‘serious journalist’, sought a gagging order from the British High Court on stories about him; and mundane because it is about that most common of misbehaviour, an extra-marital affair.

Marr has revealed that he sought a ‘super-injunction’ in 2008. The matter he wanted suppressed was reporting of his relationship with a woman journalist, and a child she bore which he believed was his. Justification for the gag was the privacy of his family, he said.

Now super-injunctions, not familiar to the Irish courts, are bans which cover any reporting of the fact that the ban exists, not just the subject matter. So this article, for example, would be covered, as would a puzzling story that ‘A married actor has taken out a super-injunction to suppress reports of his frolics with a well-known prostitute’. That example is also being played out in Britain at the moment. Read more…

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