IRISH TIMES IMAGE
IN AN unusually unsubtle PR move, the Irish Times announced the editorial promotion of two women the weekend following The Phoenix story about alleged bullying and discrimination against the paper’s women journalists (see The Phoenix, 26/7/19).
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MICHELLE’S MAYO MADNESS
FINE GAEL farming members, a mainstay of the party for generations, are not enamoured of their Galway West TD, the fragrant Hildegarde Naughton, but they do rather like their party’s Mayo senator, Michelle Mulherin. Hildegarde is chair of the Oireachtas joint committee on climate action... Read more »
BANNING THE DAILY MAIL
HIGH ANXIETY has surrounded coverage by mainstream and social media of the Ana Kriégel murder trial, mostly for good reasons. But reaction to trial judge Justice Paul McDermott’s initial blanket ban on media coverage – followed by his retreat to a limited ban on just... Read more »
THE IRISH TIMES business pages found a rather unusual angle on Friday with the headline “Beware the lure of CFDs, beloved of convicted murderer Patrick Quirke”. In the piece, markets correspondent Joe Brennan, says that: “Those who closely followed the recent trial of Patrick Quirke,... Read more »
WRITING IN today’s Irish Times, legal academics Eoin Daly and David Kenny highlight an ‘obscure mechanism’ government has been using to block the implementation of opposition Bills. The pair underline that Fine Gael are taking advantage of ambiguity around what kind of legislation is subject... Read more »
THE SINDO’S TOP TIPS
ANYONE paying rent these days is aware of the extortionate prices being charged by landlords, but never fear the Sindo has some groundbreaking tips to escape the “rental trap so you can own your home.”
And here they are: Start saving, move back home, get a handout, get a state digout, get an exemption, record rent paid, tidy up finances, move county, move country, get it tax-free, watch out for CGT and last but not least – avoid family rifts.
MEDIAHUIS SPANNER IN IT WORKS
THE IRISH TIMES gave the Mediahuis takeover of INM a guarded endorsement, saying the new owners offered a fresh start for the group and that, on paper, it looked like a “smart deal” for the Belgians. The “paper” reference was unlikely to have been a... Read more »
DENIS O’BRIEN’S TROPICAL STORMS
DENNIS O’BRIEN has secured a rare courtroom victory by winning the first round of a legal battle against the government of Antigua and Barbuda. For the background to Dinny’s Caribbean adventures read below. THERE IS TROUBLE brewing in paradise where Denis O’Brien is heading for... Read more »
FIRST CLASS SECOND CAPTAINS
OVER TWO years after the Second Captains podcast crew decided to down tools at the Irish Times, the team performance is approaching Champions League standard. Figures filed by one of the boys suggest that the gamble continues to pay off. Readers will recall that the... Read more »
PRESS COUNCIL — SECRET INFO
WHAT AN intriguing postscript at the end of the May 26th edition of the Sunday Business Post’s publication of the Press Council’s rejection of its appeal against an adverse ruling. The council had ruled in favour of RTÉ’s Ken O’Shea, who as current affairs editor... Read more »
KATIE TAYLOR’S (UN)DISPUTED VICTORY
THE Irish Independent did its patriotic bit for Katie Taylor following her “undisputed” victory in the women’s world lightweight championship fight in New York. Under the headline, “KATIE AN INSPIRATION AND ROLE MODEL TO ALL YOUNG WOMEN”, the paper’s editorial noted dismissively that there was... Read more »
MARIA BAILEY AND PAUL ALLEN
FANS OF GOLDHAWK won’t be surprised by weekend reports that PR guru Paul Allen popped up in the ongoing Maria Bailey ‘Swing Gate’ debacle. Allen accompanied the embattled TD to RTÉ studios last Monday where she gave a now legendary interview on the Sean O’Rourke... Read more »
RTÉ’S POLITICAL PRIORITIES
WHILE RTÉ’S coverage of the election counts was up to its usual high standard, the scheduling of EU election debates – easily the most watchable TV political coverage – was regarded by Montrose programmers as baffling. The first debate, hosted by Murrium O’Callaghan, was broadcast... Read more »
THE INDO has finally caught up with Goldhawk who predicted at the start of May that Peter Vandermeersch would be keeping a close eye on the Talbot St outfit.
NIALL MCGARRY’S ‘IRISH BUZZFEED’
GOLDHAWK is almost tempted to pop over to Aviemore in Scotland next week for the annual Celtic Media Festival jamboree, where the great and good will be enjoying a “phenomenal celebration of Celtic media excellence”. Apparently, the shindig will host “some of the leading names... Read more »
IRISH TIMES RESUMES BANGING THE DRUM
No sooner had the guns fell silent on the European elections did the creep of militarism return to the pages of the Irish Times. The paper published no less than six articles in two days on the back of an extensive interview with former head... Read more »
NO CHANGE IN CLIMATE AT RTÉ
HOPES THAT the election outcome would herald the dawn of a mature debate on climate change were quickly dashed this week, as RTÉ returned to the same old Punch and Judy show. Things heated up on Monday’s Liveline programme, when, following the most successful Green... Read more »
RTE’S LIBEL REGIME
CHANGES ARE afoot at RTÉ where Eamonn Kennedy has left the role Director of Legal Affairs after 24 years.
He will be replaced by media Lawyer Paula Mullooly who is also stepping into the role of Group Secretary.
Previously working with A&L Goodbody, Mullooly has advised the station in its programme making for a number of years and has served two terms on the Compliance Committee at the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Nervous souls at the national broadcaster will also be encouraged that Mullooly served on the government’s Advisory Committee on the Defamation Bill in 2003.
FIANNA FAIL AND LIBEL REFORM
IN laudable proposals to “sustain high quality journalism in Irish public life”, Fianna Fail last July demanded a review of the libel laws in a cry from communications spokesman, Timmy Dooley, in support of “the democratic need for freedom of expression”. This was welcomed by... Read more »
RTÉ’S COMPLIANCE CONCERNS
FANS OF Irish daytime TV will be familiar with Today with Maura and Daithí, fronted by the dream team of Maura Derrane and Daithí Ó Sé. This is the daily, two-hour, RTÉ One show that “brings you the latest showbiz news, comment and opinion, Ireland’s biggest giveaways, inspirational fashion tips and recipes”. However, according to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland(BAI), the popular production may also be bringing viewers some product placement. This has resulted in the issuing of a warning notice.
Read more in the latest issue of The Phoenix.
REVIEW: WINGMAN – RTÉ ONE
THE LATEST Baz Ashmawy vehicle got off to a typically improbable start when the manic-eyed presenter assured viewers that, “with the right help, anything is possible”. This new exercise is depressingly similar to his hit show 50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy – a huge commercial success thanks to Sky’s involvement.
Read the full review in the latest issue.
DANA’S CROSS-BORDER LIBELS
EX-PRESIDENTIAL candidate and singer, Dana, took the Sunday World for a sum not far off €200,000 plus mammoth legal costs in the Belfast High Court last November with the newspaper apologising for material on its website and Facebook page.
Despite this admission from the Sunday Worst, Independent News & Media (INM), owners of Sunday Newspapers – its subsidiary that publishes the Worst – is resisting exactly the same libel action in the Dublin High Court.
Read more about it in the latest issue.
And you can read more about ‘Dana’s Libel Saga’ from November last, here for free.
SAME OLD SONG: ‘ANTI-SEMITISM’
IRISH TIMES opinion formers lapsed into pro-Israeli sentiment recently, not for the first time, as defenders of Israel’s hosting of the Eurovision song contest dominated the newspaper’s columns. Supporters of BDS (Boycott, Divestment Sanctions) were relegated to the letters pages and occasional quotes rejecting allegations of extremism.
The IT published a lengthy interview with Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv, in which he denounced boycott supporters as “a very extreme minority”. This was followed by another substantial column by staff journalist, Mark Paul, who claimed that boycotting Eurovision in Israel paralleled the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in the 1930s.
Two lengthy opinion pieces from resident PC polemicists, Fintan O’Toole and Hugh Linehan, agonised over the arguments on both sides but failed to say whether they agreed or disagreed with the boycott.
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‘SEXED UP’ DEBATES
RTÉ have taken some flak and even a High Court challenge in recent weeks over the selection of panels for election coverage. Labour’s Dominic Hannigan was incensed following his exclusion from a Week in Politics debate and penned a letter accusing the station of “sexing up its coverage” and “making up the rules as it went along”.
RTÉ have justified their decisions based on past and present electoral performance. However, even Luke ‘Ming’ Flannagan, an outgoing MEP, tweeted his surprise after RTÉ shared a photo of rival candidates preparing for a debate in studio yesterday.
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SHADY DATA PRACTICES
READERS WILL have been amused to see Breda O’Brien railing against online political advertising in last weekend’s Irish Times. While referencing the 2008 Obama campaign and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the columnist had rather less to say about technical innovations adopted by the No campaign during last year’s Eighth Amendment referendum.
Shady data practices and ethically dubious modern campaign methods became typical in this jurisdiction as two major anti-abortion groups, Love Both and Save the 8th, employed a host of digital gurus and gimmicky applications in an effort to emulate sensational right-wing victories elsewhere.
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COURT’S MEDIA MUZZLE
THERE WAS much consternation on Friday when Justice Paul McDermott ordered reporting restrictions on the Ana Kriegel murder trial. Journalist Sarah Jane Murphy was quick to condemn “careless/vindictive tweeters” who “act like children on social media”.
Michael O’Toole from The Star lambasted Twitter to “stop fucking commenting, flutes”, while Declan Brennan of Courts News despaired at the “level of misunderstanding in the general public about how criminal trials run”.
Later, however, the Judge varied the original order to restrict a single media publisher, without reference to any social media commentary.
DERVAN’S FIERY FAI DEBUT
THE THEN FAI boss John Delaney announced the appointment of veteran sports hack Cathal Dervan as the FAI’s director of public relations and communications, with the following remarks: “These are exciting times for the game in Ireland… there is a lot to look forward to… we are also about to introduce new governance procedures at an EGM in early February and how we communicate all this going forward is very important to the association. I wish Cathal and the team the very best.” Ironic or what.
Read more in the latest issue.
‘BUSINESS POST’ BUSINESS
SUNDAY BUSINESS POST chief executive Siobhán Lennon’s goodbye bash in Doheny & Nesbitt’s Baggot Street hostelry last week saw her replacement, Colm O’Reilly, mingle with the newspaper’s hacks and other staff. O’Reilly has a rather different professional pedigree to Lennon’s, but he is a close colleague and partner of Post proprietor Enda O’Coineen.
Read more in the latest issue out now.
FIONNAN SHEAHAN’S PROMO
HOW VERY strange are the promotions of Irish Independent editor, Fionnan Sheahan and Sunday Independent editor, Cormac Bourke to the new posts of editor-in-chief, and editor of the Irish and Sunday Indo titles respectively. And what timing, with the titles bestowed on them within two days of the Belgian takeover.
Just under a year ago the Irish Independent gave the official line about “a new group strategy” with the abolition of Stephen Rae’s job as editor-in-chief. There followed —within days of Rae’s departure — the appointment of Richard McClean in the newly created position of managing director of publishing in Ireland. As the Indo pointed out, the job of editor-in-chief had “been discontinued”.
Now, the job of editor-in-chief has been, er, recontinued with Sheahan in position while Bourke has added the daily paper to his Sunday newspaper editorial responsibility. Even more confusingly, the editor-in-chief post was to be replaced by the new post of MD publishing, ie, McClean.
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SEX & MURDER: THE INDO’S SALACIOUS COVERAGE
CONGRATULATIONS to the Indo for managing to churn out no less than 25 stories over 21 pages of print on the so-called ‘Love Rival Murder Trial’ over the last two days. Here are those headlines:
‘We have got justice for Daddy today’ – relief for family after trauma of three-month ordeal
Prisoner 107243 put on suicide watch as Quirke begins his new life behind bars
Eerie silence hung in court as jury delivered verdict
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INM’S BELGIAN IMPORT?
NERVOUS HACKS at Independent House must be wondering what kind of changes the imminent Belgian owners of Independent News and Media have in mind. While the current noises emanating from Mediahuis are soothing, it is clear that any new owner of a media group will bring its own ideas. Interesting then to see that one Peter Vandermeersch, outgoing editor-in-chief of the Mediahuis-owned Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, has taken a very strong interest in Irish journalists.
No sooner had the Mediahuis-INM deal been announced than Van de Man got busy following an array of hacks on Twitter – most of them, naturally, from INM’s stable. By Goldhawk’s reckoning, the Belgian editor is now following around than 120 Irish hacks of various hues.
While it is not surprising to see the likes of Indo editor Fionnan Sheahan and Sindo editor Cormac Bourke, as well as their many minions, appear on the list, Vandermeersch has also expanded his range to include various other media entities (print, online and broadcasting) and their staff, including the likes of Pat Kenny, Emmet Oliver, Katie Hannon and Róisín Ingle.
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While shareholders may have taken a bruising this week, press reactions to the takeover at Independent News & Media were broadly optimistic. Commentators were keen to emphasise the business acumen of Mediahuis and their “focus on quality journalism”. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Belgian publisher which had some INM-type battles of its own.
The Irish Independent reports that Mediahuis “continues its rapid expansion” while the Irish Times announced the arrival of “one of Europe’s fastest growing media groups”. The company was invariably described as an international group despite the Dublin takeover being their first foray outside of its Benelux heartland. READ MORE »
ANNE HARRIS & DENIS O’BRIEN’S ‘CONTROL’
“A JADED CANARD laid to rest” was how Anne Harris described Denis O’Brien’s approval of the INM sale in today‘s Irish Times indicating, she claimed, that this proved he had controlled the company all along, despite vigorous denials.
In fact, the sale’s approval was a result of not only O’Brien’s but also Desmond’s endorsement. No matter. Harris had a particular grievance arising from an article that she wrote — as Sunday Independent editor — and which was heavily ‘edited’ (ie, censored) by then group-editor-in-chief, Stephen Rae in later editions of the Sindo that Saturday night. Chief among the changes was the deletion of a sentence stating, “in practice he does (control INM)”.
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TRIONA MULLANE & DENIS O’BRIEN
THERE WAS good news for mobile advertising tech businesswoman Triona Mullane last week when she landed a nomination for EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in the emerging category. She may be better known to some as a director of Independent News and Media (INM), whose ties to one Denis O’Brien landed her in the spotlight.
Back in 2014, before whistleblower Robert Pitt was appointed CEO of INM in October that year, Vincent Crowley had been in the hot seat but he had stepped down in May, leaving a hole to be filled until the arrival of Pitt from Tesco. As a result, INM announced on May 19, 2014 that “a sub-committee of the board, consisting of [chairman] Leslie Buckley, Triona Mullane, Allan Marshall and Terry Buckley, will assume responsibility for the management of the group pending the appointment of a new CEO.”
This sub-committee was therefore in place for around five months and it was on its watch that the high profile alleged data breach of Indo hacks’ emails occurred. There has been no claim whatsoever that the subcommittee members were aware of any breach and the “data interrogation” that was subsequently alleged to have taken place outside the jurisdiction. (The ODCE also claims that the whole process was directed by Leslie Buckley, who denies this, and was paid for by a Denis O’Brien-linked company, Blaydon Ltd, registered in the Isle of Man.)READ MORE »
REVIEW: THE GHOST FACTORY – JENNY McCARTNEY (4th ESTATE)
WITH NO apparent end in sight to fictional accounts of the Troubles, it’s not surprising that this debut novel revisits familiar ground. The author now works as a journalist in London, but grew up in Northern Ireland (her father, Robert McCartney, was a former leader of the UK Unionist Party).
Read the full review now.
THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN
THREE MONTHS after exiting the Sunday Business Post, Tom Lyons has got his new media business up and running in conjunction with his former boss (and RTÉ board member), Ian Kehoe, who exited the SBP in August last year. The good news is that the two boys are taking themselves very seriously and are advertising for hacks (Emmet Oliver might be getting nervous) who “want to work for an outlet that places journalism at the heart of its mission”.
The new venture is called The Currency and will focus on business. Speaking of which, who will be funding the fledgling operation? At this stage, it is not clear where any backing is coming from, although Lyons might know a relative with a few bob given that he happens to be a nephew of moneybags Pearse ‘Alltech’ Lyons, who died last year.
Lyons and Kehoe have set up an office on Fitzwilliam Street, D2, in the same building as architecture and design practice LyonsKelly, where Tom’s interior designer brother, Eoin Lyons, is a founder. The business hacks have also incorporated two separate limited companies to hold their stakes in the new publishing business: TLLA Investments Ltd is named using the initials of its two directors, Tom Lyons and his wife, advertising executive, Lynne Andrews, while the same naming method was used for Mgik Ltd, where the directors are Ian Kehoe and his wife, accountant Miriam Galvin.
To be based on a subscription-based model, The Currency will be entering an increasingly crowded digital news market, where the likes of TheJournal.ie has splurged on online news. Despite the very deep pockets of its Daft.ie owners, Journal Media has recently turned to Google to seek help in funding its investigations.
Maybe Tom and Ian can pick up the phone to the Mountain View California to get some info on Google’s ‘Digital News Innovation Fund’. Like the two boys, Google also claims to have a mission – one “inherently tied to the reporting of journalists and news organisations”.