Sean O'Rourke has become the main media player in Irish politics. His News at One on Radio One is the pre-eminent politics programme on radio. His Week in Politics feeds off that pre-eminence with an array of political heavy-hitters and less heavy commentators.
I am disappointed with the decision to drop the “Tonight” programme on RTE Radio One but I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to present it for 10 years. I thank RTE for that opportunity and also all those who worked with me on the programme, the participants and the listeners.
I will continue writing for Village magazine and for the web site www.village.ie. I also, today, have a signed a contract with Random House to write a biography of Charles Haughey. Any assistance I can get from members of the public will be very welcome.
Google's data-retention activities come under scrutiny by authorities on both sides of the Atlantic. By Tom Rowe
Ideological bias teamed up with sheer laziness to scupper any decent analysis of one of the most interesting post-election questions: what happened to Sinn Féin? The rather pathetic pundit consensus focussed on Breakfast-Roll Man, ex-dole sponger turned ambitious worker, symbol of how the boom has made working-class voters richer and more conservative, turned off by SF's focus on social housing and public services. (Why BRM was so turned on by SF in the mid-boom 2002 and 2004 elections was rarely addressed.)
The most conspicuous 2007 hype, widely regarded as the cause of the much-discussed “squeeze”, was the media's insistence on treating the election as a straight fight between two men – or, at a stretch, two coalitions. Opinion-poll figures were regularly aggregated over pictures of Enda and Bertie. We could hardly complain this was unfair to smaller parties (what's fairness got to do with it?) if it gave an honest and accurate picture of the alternatives. But it didn't.
The general election was not all it was cracked up to be by the media. In some cases it was just the opposite, with sloppy and erroneous assumptions and assertions dominating the coverage before, during and after. At the risk of filling a page with sour grapes or straw-clutching from a disappointed left-wing watcher (our only pleasures were whooping-out McDowell and relishing the rise of Richard Boyd-Barrett), let's take a last look back.
There were two great interviews – both with Bertie Ahern as it happens – done on the broadcast media during the election campaign and the immediate aftermath. One was conducted by Matt Cooper on The Last Word on Today FM. Matt Cooper is now maybe the best of current affairs radio broadcasters. He is articulate, coherent, fluent and oh-so informed. He took Bertie briskly through the issues, always with sufficient back up knowledge to challenge Bertie when the latter went into his detail mode, laced with incoherence.
Claims about grand conspiracies encompassing the entirety of the media are normally the domain of those decidedly on the margins of political life. For example, Morgan Stack, who ran on an “Irish 9/11 truth” ticket in the recent election, receiving 116 votes, frequently complains of media censorship by shadowy forces.
Channel 6 launched last year with a €14m investment, a €4m publicity campaign, and plans to conquer the lucrative but saturated 15-24 year market. Fourteen months on, it has only a 0.4 per cent share of the national market and just a two per cent share of the 15-24 year old market.
Harry Browne writes about consensual foundations, Titanic culture and collateral damage