It wasn't the papers wot won it
In a way, there was no choice in this election, not a lot for the media to exploit, in traditional fashion. Fine Gael was going to dominate the result, and this was clear from early on.
So the adversarial party battle which newspapers and other media exploit (whatever the regulations say) was missing from the coverage.
The best angles, for attention, that could be taken were about the phoney war between Eamon Gilmore and Enda Kenny, or perhaps some scare-mongering about the rise of the left and the Sinn Fein surge.
However, the Irish media was generally well-behaved – there's no tradition of front pages like 'Will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights?', the notorious Sun headline which spelled the end of the Kinnock government in 1992.
Here, it was possible, with just a tincture of luck, to avoid election news in Ireland, February 2011. The aggressive flowering of election posters on every tree and pole hinted to even the politically apathetic that a vote was imminent.
But, if one kept to the tabloids, watched the cooking and talent shows on TV, and had a quick trigger figure to dismiss RTE radio one or Newstalk, ignorance could have been blissful.
The serious newspapers gave blanket coverage, as well they might, in this election after an extraordinary series of events, and at time when the country is on the ropes.
Four years ago, in a now notorious editorial, The Irish Times greeted the result of the 2007 election with words of chagrin, "So the people have spoken...' Now, it could be argued that an IT project to reveal the unlovely side of Fianna Fáil has been completed, with the connivance of greedy bankers – and Sinn Féin TD Caomhin O Caoláin, whose revelation of the 'crony' dinner between Cowen, the Anglo-Irish chairman and other members of that board, was the final straw that broke the people's back.
So the Fianna Fáil vote went down by an average of 25% across the board, and some commentators estimated that FF received half a million FEWER votes this time than in 2007.
The real test for the papers was felt by the Sundays, publishing just a day after voting, who had the news but not quite – the result was clear, but the last fascinating details about individual constituencies and battles were ongoing. The print media has to do what it does best when dealing with running, breaking stories – analysis, clear charts and graphics, and trying not to tell people what they will know already.
The Sunday Business Post went for 'Fine Gael and Labour set for immediate talks on coalition' as its front-page lead headline. It also featured a 'fun' sidebar story headlined 'FF Fallers', above a vertical panel of Mary Coughlan, Dick Roche and Barry Andrews mugshots.http://www.sbpost.ie/news/fine-gael-and-labour-set-for-immediate-talks-on-coalition-54812.html
Visually, The Sunday Independent ran a snapshot of the election literally, with a gallery of pictures taken along the way, including a classic at a cattle mart in county Clare link.
Its front-page headline was 'History is made as huge FG surge wipes FF off map', a more visceral and exciting take on events. For once there was no dolly-bird photo on the Sindo's front page – unless the shot of Fine Gael's Lucinda Creighton, celebrating with fellow TD Leo Varadkar, qualifies.
The Sunday Times (we can't link because of the pay wall) went for 'Kenny to be Taoiseach' as its front page headline, with three news pages before a 10-page election special, featuring big bold pictures of Mick Wallace in Wexford (dishevelled but happy) and Mary Hanafin in Dun Laoghaire (sad).
The real media change was more likely the discussion, debate, name-calling and genuine idea development facilitated by the internet. But that's another story.