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UCC Express - Irish Media

Recent political events have inspired a debate around the independence of Ireland’s media, and the unparalleled power they hold in shaping the political and societal discourse. An open and nonpartisan media is an essential component of any well functioning democratic society. In Ireland we have a publicly funded media and a privately owned media. In an ideal world, our publicly funded media would work proactively and in an unbiased fashion, in the national best interest, while private, independently-run media would report fact-based news, possibly with a certain slant. In Ireland’s case, neither private nor public media report from this ideal world.

There are two fundamental issues with the construct of contemporary media in Ireland, as I see it; firstly, the blatant subservience of our media to that of the European institutional and Irish governmental agenda as well as that of the corporate world, and secondly, the dominance of certain business and political interests in the privately held, ‘independent’ media. Since 2008, our state broadcaster has unashamedly colluded with the vast majority of the private media, in misrepresenting real events, and badgering and tarring opponents of the status quo. With the exception of a small number of exceptional journalists, many whom have been castigated and lost their jobs as a result of their unwavering commitment to good journalism, we are left with a public and private clique of journalism which collectively works as a communications clinic for the government and vested interests. In doing so, they actively seek to manipulate public opinion to comply to a very specific political outlook, one which does not benefit the same public who are bombarded with it’s merits. 

Contemporary Ireland may no longer have frocked men at altars, imparting their moralistic wisdom and guidelines to an eager flock, but our societies yearning for a voice of authority to guide them still exists. In steps Mr.Tubridy, to use his ‘light entertainment’ show for a one off party-political broadcast. To anyone who watched the recent edition of the Late Late show, which showcased Ryan’s interview/interrogation of Paul Murphy TD, you were left in no doubt that Ryan was conducting a witch hunt, and Paul was to be burnt at the stake. If it wasn’t so deeply worrying, that a man on half a million a year could so blatantly abuse his position to attempt to turn prime-time public opinion against legitimate protest, protest led by citizens that pay his hefty salary, it would have been laughable. Frankly it turned my stomach, and I share no political allegiance with Paul or any other anti water tax grouping. 

The vilification of protest has not been limited to exchequer funded broadcasts however. According to Independent News & Media, whose billionaire owner has financial ties to the introduction of a water tax, such protests were an “attack on democracy”. Far be it for me to judge what constitutes an attack on democracy, but one would think that the ability to protest was actually what defined a democracy? All that aside, it is hard to stomach ethical and moral arguments from a newspaper with such blatant an agenda, a paper which only still exists because taxpayer funded banks forgave it’s parent company, with it’s billionaire majority shareholder, over €140,000,000. Thanks to you and I, the tough recessionary times on Talbot street were short-lived it seems. 

Since 2008, the Irish media has offered no solutions. Because of their lack of imagination, they believe it to be inconceivable that there could be another way. While political editors anoint St.Enda and celebrate his “success story”, and crime correspondents provide a free PR service for the Gardai, even amidst grievous claims of corruption from fellow Gardai, tax dodging multinationals and tax exiles are celebrated on the business pages. Meanwhile, working class protestors, understandably exercised at injustice, are labelled anarchists and vilified. If all it takes to upset these self appointed ‘purveyors of the truth’ is some bad language and a few people sitting on a road, it's just as well the civil rights protests of the last century escaped their eagle eyes and damning scribes. All the same, we only have ourselves to blame; when we accept such blatantly compromised journalism we conspire in concealing the truth. Vested interests will continue to be protected until such a time as the majority demands better, I just hope that time is not too far away.

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