Tag Archives: Property

Banging on about media and property again

For the past decade the media inscribed a “triangular relationship between politics, development and banking” which largely explains why despite the witch hunts for rogue bankers, developers and politicians the media has not yet reflected on its own role in the crisis.

[Image via Irish Independent]

Dear Brian Brennan [BrianBrennan (at) independent.ie],

I just read your piece in today’s Irish Independent and wanted to say I thought it was well timed. The damning judgement at the ballot box was not just directed at Fianna Fail, but at all those who facilitated and were complicit in the economic crisis. I also wanted to say though, that while you target a number of groups who bear serious responsibility for the economic crisis, I would argue you have left out at least one significant group: journalists and journalism.

At both a corporate and a journalistic level Irish media institutions failed in their role as the fourth estate. They failed to investigate properly the property market and the economic rational that underpinned it, they failed to expose the banking and political system that fueled the bubble, and at the most basic level they failed to safeguard the supposed firewall between journalism and advertising. Quite oppositely, they actually developed an economic stake in a rising property market. Both the Irish Independent and the Irish Times moved into the property sector both in terms of news supplements and as sales agents. Economics reporting reflected and fed into that perspective, with few dissenting voices.

Despite all this the media has not reflected on its role in the economic crisis.

Best wishes,

1. http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/brian-brennan-voters-dealt-with-ff-now-others-must-be-punished-2569360.html
2. http://www.mediabite.org/article_The-Elephant-in-between-the-property-ads_665274077.html
3. http://www.mediabite.org/article_The-Media-and-the-Banking-Bailout_679566551.html

Greatest threat to print journalism?

Answer: The Internet.

This is a theme that has popped up a million different times over the last number of years, “the death of print media” etc etc. According to the Irish Times Editor, Geraldine Kennedy:

the internet has posed a “huge threat” to the traditional structure and financing of the newspaper industry.”

While the internet is clearly drawing advertising and readers away from traditional print publications, there is no definitive evidence that the traditional media will die anytime soon. What we do know though is that the traditional media, in Ireland at any rate, is at this very minute under threat from a far more traditional source:

“THE IRISH Times Ltd made an after-tax loss of €27.9 million in 2009 as a result of costs related to a restructuring of the business and the effect of the recession on advertising revenues.”

“Circulation revenues fell marginally during the year but advertising income was 42.5 per cent lower due to the effects of the economic slowdown, particularly in property and recruitment.”

Maeve Donovan who “spearheaded the controversial “investment and diversification” strategy“, i.e. the purchase of MyHome.ie (which appeared to be a means of cutting out the middleman in the property advertising paradigm), also received “an ex-gratia payment of €1.1 million.”

Property advertising, as we all know, is declining predominantly because of an excess of 300,000 houses and the creation of a bad bank, guaranteed by the government and therefore the Irish public, with a balance sheet of empty and unfinished commercial property, which in turn prompted a series of deflationary government budget strategies, precipitating the IMF and ECB putting in place a means of exhorting billions of Euro from the Irish public to repay British, French and German banks for the coming generations.

So not only did the media’s symbiotic relationship with the property industry discredit journalism, and in turn alienate readers, but its over reliance on property advertising compromised the financial structure of instituion itself.

The traditional media doesn’t need a threat from the internet, it is well able to destroy itself.