Ireland’s invisible, but omnipresent, right-wing

An Interview with Gene Kerrigan

The Irish news industry “strive[s] to establish the important facts in the rapidly changing environment“, it “provide[s] vigilance and challenge to assist understanding.” It is “primarily concerned with serious issues for the benefit of the community throughout the whole of Ireland free from any form of…control“. It has “endeavoured to ensure reporting was accurate and reflected the facts…reflect[ing] all shades of opinion“. And it aspires to “reflect the ever-changing panorama which is human life“.

We know this because a conga line of editors, former editors, CEO’s and directors from Ireland’s most prominent news making institutions recently told us so in evidence presented to the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis. Any suggestion that this is not the case is a “conspiracy”, peddled by “conspiracy theorists” from “a[n unrecognisable] planet“. And of course, the Irish news industry doesn’t waste it’s time reflecting on the ever-changing panorama of life on other planets.

For a press so concerned with reflecting the world accurately and with account for it’s diversity of opinion, the inquiry was surprisingly interested in just one person, Morgan Kelly. To a visitor from another planet it must have appeared a strange state of affairs, that the credibility of such independently minded institutions, with access to a range and breadth of information and expertise, could be so contingent on the insight of one university professor. The very fact that Kelly’s name is as much a part of the crisis lexicon as NAMA, Anglo and the Troika, is a testament to the industry’s failure.

Continue reading Ireland’s invisible, but omnipresent, right-wing

The campaign goes on

Former Progressive Democrat and current Irish Independent columnist Liz O’Donnell gave a perfect example of ‘the press’ that we discussed in ‘Irish Water has brought us together‘ in today’s paper. It’s got it all:

  • ‘Unsavoury violent aggressive element’
  • ‘fomenting anarchy and intimidation’
  • ‘Loony left’
  • ‘Rabble rousing’
  • ‘Hardliners stoking up unrest’
  • ‘Pandering to populism’
  • ‘Jubilant defiance in a scary way’
  • ‘Nihilistic populism’

The Irish Times’ Cliff Taylor also has a great example of the press infantilising the public: “Why Government cant deliver on voters’ Santa list“. There’s loads of such commentary in the archives. Here’s another one from the Irish Examiner’s Jim Power: “Keep budget goodies on the shelf until 2016“.

(h/t @hiredknave)

Irish Water has brought us together

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For five years the press has warned the public that since “we all partied”, we must now all make sacrifices. In 2008 the relentless billowing of the property bubble naturally segued into an equally relentless build-up to the next “courageous[ly] masochis[tic]” budget.

But when the post-Tiger ‘we’ is not acquiescing to the next austerity measure, it is largely absent. It is often silent or simply gagged, and sometimes, it is even denied it exists at all.

There is no property or travel supplement for the post-tiger ‘we’. Because ‘we’ do not experience austerity. The effects of public service cuts, regressive taxation and emigration are experienced by ‘them’. And ‘they’ do not own or operate the press.

Sometimes, when we talk about the press, journalists respond by saying:

“you can’t talk about ‘the press’ as if it’s a collective entity, ‘the press’ is made up of thousands of people and hundreds of organisations, with a diversity of politics and agenda”**

So, for the purposes of this article, perhaps it might be less controversial to speak of ‘the press’ simply as shorthand for ‘those media organisations owned by Denis O’Brien and the State’*. Because Ireland’s media landscape is arguably dominated by just one vista, from Leinster House looking out towards Malta.

Continue reading…

Forget what you’ve heard, Israel isn’t losing the media war

Shift in the media balance of power has been greatly exaggerated

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Despite optimistic claims that “Israel is losing the social media war over Gaza”, the mediating influence of the news industry remains dominant in our cognitive understanding of the conflict; contorting information through both bureaucratic and institutional parameters; determining what is sayable and unsayable, what is visible and what remains hidden.

However, there is certainly a sense that this power is beginning to be eroded. Whereas television was said to bring war into our living rooms, social media realises the uncensored sights and sounds of war in realtime. Paul Mason’s recent essay on the role of social media in informing a new generation of hyper-connected news readers makes a strong case for a shift in power. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence this has translated into a broader media shift.

Continue reading Forget what you’ve heard, Israel isn’t losing the media war

Some massacres are uncovered, others remain buried

Iraq is suffering it’s bloodiest period in years, so it’s no surprise some deaths go largely unreported, but which ones?IBC data

“It was supposed to be a routine job, police say. Move 69 prisoners from an outlying town to a jail in southern Baghdad.” [Reuters, 27 Jun ‘14]

But those 69 prisoners never reached their destination, they were instead gunned down during a fire fight between the Iraqi army and the insurgent force of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to army spokespeople that is. This is the second such mass killing of army prisoners in the last weeks.

Just 9 days ago Reuters reported that 52 prisoners were found in Baquba, a regional capital north of Baghdad, with “execution-style wounds to the head and chest”. Again, according to the government, the prisoners were said to have been killed by crossfire.

However, according to anonymous sources cited by Reuters, these prisoners were not the victims of stray bullets, but were instead summarily executed by their captors.

In Baquba, the New York Times reported that a source at the morgue said that “many of the victims had been shot to death at close range”.

While in Hilla, a police officer and a senior local official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters, “no attack took place, and the police had executed the 69 men”.

But, in contrast to the claims of mass killings made by ISIL earlier this month, these massacres have yet to be widely reported. This is despite reports by Amnesty International and tweets by Human Rights Watch’s Executive Director Kenneth Roth.

In the immediate aftermath of the killings there was some media interest, at the time when responsibility was attributed to ISIL. However, since the blame shifted, the interest has quickly waned – save for less than a handful of reports, the first by Reuters (republished by several other news organisations) and then by the New York Times.

Quietly at least, it seems the Iraqi government is sending a message to ISIL that it does not have a monopoly over mass killings.

The New York Times cited these two events as evidence of the return to a “familiar cycle of violence” between Sunni and Shia. At the very same time, evidence of deaths in Baghdad neighbourhoods are said to “fit the pattern of Shiite death squads during the sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007”.

Yet these aren’t the kind of events that form part of the broader narrative.

ISIL are still the only “extremists” in this conflict, while the Iraqi government and military, and the various Shia militias, are constantly said to be engaged in “counteroffensive”, responding to violence, and only engaging in it after their “patience had run out”. These executions, where they are referred to, are branded of a lesser evil than those of the ISIL led insurgency, unhindered by “a raw, sectarian quality“, despite being directed predominantly towards the Sunni minority.

Russia Today is THE worst

RT presenter Sophie Shevardnadze posing enthusiastically with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov for a ‘selfie’.

You would have thought the very public resignation of RT’s Liz Wahl would have nurtured a certain reluctance to display overt partiality, but clearly that’s not what has transpired.

Luckily, the western press is undistractible and can usually be relied on to step into this void of journalistic independence.

Unluckily for us, a juicy bone has been waved in front of these metaphorical dogs, in the shape of a photo.

The Washington Post asked: “Could this be the selfie to end all selfies?”

TIME marveled: “Biden’s First Selfie Is Just Awesome”

Talking Points Memo reported: “Biden kills the selfie game with Obama”

CNN surmised summarised: “‘Pals': Biden, Obama make selfie time”

The Huffington Post claimed: “none of us can ever compete”

The Telegraph said: “The pair perfect their toothy grins

Judge for yourself, I guess:

It’s not always metaphorical dogs mind you, as CBS News’ Margaret Brennan can testify:

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