News, Current Affairs, Politics, Media, Sport, Entertainment and Life in General from Ireland
John Waters writing in today’s Irish Times, makes some very interesting points about the state of the Irish Print and Broadcast media landscape. He speaks about a form of elitism in the recruitment and advancement of journalists and reporters and a culture of conformity and uniformity in perspective. He also speaks about the reactionary and self protective attitude of journalists who find their worldview consensus challenged. I believe he raises some very fundamentally relevant and pertinent issues in his article.
My belief is that one of the main problems in the Irish media is that there is a form of ‘groupthink’ as Lucinda Creighton spoke about in the Dail some weeks ago, before she lost her Junior Ministry for voting against the Government on ‘the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013’. This ‘groupthink’ is evident in newspaper reporting, opinion editorials and radio and TV debates and discussions. As Waters says in his article, “As a result, Irish journalism now takes it for granted that that there is but one “virtuous” way of seeing the world. Ostensibly, the favoured ideological “principles” read as feminist, left-wing, liberal, secular, etc, but in reality nothing is advanced or promoted out of a desire for any kind of truth.”
If there is a united one world view and ideology on matters of public debate and discourse, it makes for a society of drones following sheep like with the consensus of the masses. This makes for a very dull and uninteresting platform to examine issues of public interest, our country like all others has people with differing views on all issues, in particular topics in the area of ethical and moral opinion. The best discussions in the broadcast media are those where contrary points of view are represented, these debates traditionally were about issues such as abortion, divorce, the family structure, end of life care, euthanasia, religion, sexuality, etc. However, nowadays those people who have ‘conservative’ views, as they are labelled, are vilified for being regressive and out of touch with the views of the masses.
This perception has damaged the media landscape and has bound and gagged freedom of expression and informed, wide ranging debate. As much as the media would like to impose its liberal, secular agenda on the independent free thinking people of Ireland, there is another Ireland outside of their grasp. The national papers concerns are centred on the urban cities and their issues, but the local and regional papers in extremely difficult times financially, are plugging away and giving a voice to the rural voiceless, those who no longer are represented in the national media. Local radio throughout the country has never been stronger, and most counties have their own mid morning talk show that is the choice of listening for current affairs, news and debate ahead of the national broadcasters offerings.
Our national broadcast landscape is bereft of sufficient rural voices and stories, bereft of balance of gender and diverse perspectives and is dominated by the same old talking heads and usual suspects. New young vibrant voices are scarce, the voice of religious Ireland is rarely heard and when it is, it is openly mocked and criticised, whatever criticism you may have of the Catholic Church, they still play a huge part in the daily lives of people in this country. The dogmatic journalistic cabal in this country should be aware that this country broke the shackles of a dogmatic regime of church and state, only to have the media step in to fill the void, that they were so critical of for so long.
Ireland recently returned to recession, people are unable to pay their bills, maintain their mortgages and consumer spend and confidence is at a very low ebb. However the mainstream media rarely acknowledges this, rather propagating the lie that people are strategically defaulting, don’t want to work and are milking it in social protection benefits and assistance. This narrative of ‘talking the economy up’, is so dominant in the media, that the reality of life on the ground is being widely ignored. This country is now dominated by a ‘coping class’, that is so burdened with debt, that even with economic recovery and job creation, it will take years to balance out. There is a dominant false narrative that we must proceed with austerity and readjustments and the media is not challenging this.
We are no longer shackled to the traditional news outlets as we once were, there is now a more wide ranging debate on local and national issues being discussed and debated in social media, blogs, independent news websites and podcasts. If the traditional ‘groupthink’ mass media doesn’t widen their worldview to take in the views of their readers and listeners, they will find themselves going the way of the organs of the state and church they so widely vilify.
John Waters original article from The Irish Times may be found here: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/meeja-a-word-coined-by-metropolitans-to-keep-the-country-bumpkin-in-his-place-1.1495412