Archive for December, 2011

Ireland – and the world – in middle of media storm

December 16th, 2011 No comments

As 2011 limps to a close, many newspapers face that ‘c’ word (close) in the next few years.

Circulations of the print product are going down everywhere in the West. Optimists who point excitedly to rising newspaper circulations in India or China are deliberately overlooking cultural and market differences. How has the Irish media coped with 2012?

There were the great gifts of not one election but two: all the fun of the fair at the presidential poll, and earlier the rather more serious, but foregone conclusion, of the general election.

Queen Elizabeth graciously descended in May, to be met equally graciously by Mary McAleese.

Then it was President Obama’s turn to give Ireland a chance of a moment in the world spotlight – though the fleeting nature of his visit, Moneygall, College Green, and goodbye, left the taste of burnt rubber in the mouth.

Ongoing stories were the space- and attention-grabbers. Recession horrors, ineffectual European Union action, and vague dabs by the new Irish government (JobBridge, for example) were constant themes, if not always given illuminating reporting.

The sad story of clerical child abuse, and the mishandling of complaints, continued – and continues. Patsy McGarry’s story in The Irish Times about complaints against Archbishop John Charles McQuaid were a fitting if appalling coda to the whole saga.McGarry story December 8

The Sunday Tribune closed in February, on the heels of the rather less lamented Sunday Star. This left the serious Sunday market to the Business Post, although its circulation still languishes around 50,000. However, the Post has at least shown a smaller decrease in its sales than the Irish average – it went down by about 3 per cent in the first half of 2011, about half the average decline for print titles across the country. (ABC figures)

The journalistic workforce is shrinking – even on the large employers, such as the nationals . The Irish Independent outsourced most of its subbing several years ago, with little reported complaint (or even notice) from readers, and The Irish Times, which has already slashed, combined and downgraded its subbing desks, is said to be looking to cut subs’ numbers by another half-dozen. Read more…

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Enda’s address to the nation

December 5th, 2011 No comments

Angela watched Enda Kenny hint at how bad it is all going to be forever…

In the end it was a fairly damp squib. But at least he did it.

Enda Kenny, leader of the country, sat down and eyeballed the nation, albeit via a TV camera from his office, and told them the bad times are here to stay.

At least, the Taoiseach said, for ‘several’ years, perhaps a benign interpretation of a figure closer to 15.

And he acknowledged that the Irish state is spending €16 billion more than it has in the kitty per year.

The Taoiseach’s address to the nation last night, though much anticipated and now much analysed in the media, was never going to be a stirring experience. Even at the best of times, the polite gentleman from Mayo is not the type to get people leaping from their chairs and pumping air. (He used to be known as ‘Mayo’s answer to Prince Charles’.)

But, as one started to drift away on the sofa in the post-prandial haze, a couple of Kenny’s statements did stand out. Firstly, and rightly, he told us all that the savage recession is not our fault.

Then, and most importantly, he virtually said that the Irish government is prepared to accept any fiscal arrangement to keep the country in the euro. Whether that means total control of the finances, one Euro-wide policy on taxing and spending, the government is up for it. The Taoiseach indicated this with his statement that ‘Ireland supports stronger governance… in the euro zone.

‘In fact, the Irish people are paying the price now for the absence of such rules in the past,’ he added, perhaps to make the alternative seem more palatable.

Us little people here on the ground can only hope that the much-vaunted Euro leaders summit next Friday (Dec 9) will actually do something, even if this governance project takes away more autonomy. It’s nice to be autonomous, but better to eat.

Anyway, Kenny’s attempt to steady the nerves of his people was laudable, on the eve of a Budget so bad, so hard, that it had to be spread over two days for fear of killing the patient with delivery on one. Brian Cowen was much criticised for his on-going failure to communicate with the electorate in the midst of drastic upheaval.

And speaking of communication, it was a pity that on the day Enda advised us all to tighten our belts till 2015 – he hopes – it was revealed that one of his own communications advisers is to get a pay rise of €35,000. Ciaran Conlon, variously described as an old friend and a key adviser to Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton, will see his salary burst through the government’s alleged cap on such pay, going from €92,000 to €127,000. So handy to have that extra cash at Christmas!

If you were too busy or asleep to watch the Taoiseach’s address, here it is…
Enda Kenny addresses Ireland

And from, a bit more on lucky ol’ Ciaran Conlon…

Ministers overruled to give adviser €35,000 pay hike

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