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.
4 thoughts on “Alternative media are just too much democracy for Terry Prone”
I am not permanently angry, Miriam – why have you not signed the post, by the way ? – and you might be better off being less so, too.
Terry Prone’s role in our mess, if any, was minimal. She has her good points, too.
On the contrary Fergus, you are not nearly angry enough – in fact downright complacent about far too much as a rule! So there:-) Terry Prone was Fianna Fail’s spin doctor in chief – most especially on behalf of Bertie Ahern and several government departments throughout the period when the worst damage was being done to the country. She is never being straightforward when she talks about this stuff. I cannot count the number of times that she has rowed in on behalf of disgraced Fianna Fail politicians using what are ostensibly independent columns as a locus for PR spinning on their behalf – without the least mention of her conflict of interest in so doing. In fact I think Prone is one of the most pernicious actors we have on the politico-media stage in Ireland. But she is by no means alone in this – just a little more brazen than most of the others, imo.
Well, if Ms Prone has her good points, I would dearly like to know what they are. As far as I’m concerned, PR mouthpieces like Prone deserve nothing but contempt.
That’s not to say that the impression you give, i.e. that spin doctors are entirely a Fianna Fáil phenomenon, is correct. Neither is it correct to say that the current mess is entirely the product of the government. The so-called opposition, the so-called liberal media and the so-called left have all played along when it suited them to do so. And to pretend that an unholy alliance of the just-as-right-wing Fine Gael with the pretend-lefty Labour would produce better results is sheer delusion.
I don’t disagree with you at all. The object of the piece is Terry Prone and my intention in writing it was to focus on her and her connections – or rather to highlight what she personally is up to. The entire political class is riddled with spin doctoring as you say. Prone has been particularly influential because of her connections to Haughey and Bertie Ahern – ‘stalking the corridors of power’ for a very long time. I can’t think of any other spin doctor who has so much acess to the media – print and broadcast. She keeps being invited onto programmes to express her opinion as if she was just a disinterested bystander. Of course half the journalists in Dublin have been sent to training courses run by Prone and they tend not to mess with her from what I can make out. Her husband is a big cheese at RTE…