Readng Terry Prone’s latest column, reminds me of an elderly relative who was staying with our family back in the early 1970s. She had never come to terms with telephone technology and was sure nothing good could come of it. Letter writing and telegrams made sense to her but a voice coming out of a bakelite handset made none whatsoever. So it is with Terry Prone and communication via the internet and social media. Apparently unfazed by the fact that the nation can scarcely open a newspaper or switch on the telly or the radio without being assailed by Prone herself, she berates the citizens who can now talk back to the media via email, text messages and twitter. She accuses us of being ‘permanently angry’, for instance. Too damn right we are – and we will continue to be powered by anger unless or until we finally have something approaching an equitable society – something that Fianna Fail have been the better part of a century denying us.
It’s perhaps understandable that someone who has been declaiming on the nation’s affairs on behalf of her paymasters in Fianna Fail from a patrician perspective for so long might have difficulty in suddenly having to share the media space with the hoi polloi – but sympathy for her should stop there. What a breathtaking sort of arrogance it is for Terry Prone of all people to accuse radio presenters of focusing too much on our ongoing, serious difficulties. Perhaps her resentment results from an uncomfortable awareness of the keen part that she played in helping to bring this situation about. And it’s another universe of insult altogether to suggest that ordinary people who choose to participate in the public discourse are some sort of dehumanised mob that ought to be ignored, the better to preserve the airwaves exclusively for voices like her own. Most likely the real reason listening figures are down is precisely because more and more people are discovering the advantages of the participatory nature of alternative news media. In Terry Prone’s protected world, apparently, it is far better that we go on dutifully ingesting reproaches like hers from without the far less democratic traditional media. And no, Terry, necessarily holding to account Fianna Fail politicians who are in deep, almost pathological denial about the crisis they recklessly created does not compare to unreasonably blaming them for a failure to predict the activities of a volcano. But nice try, anyway. Nice spin.
Miriam Cotton, May 18th 2010.