Thursday, December 08, 2005


A few years ago, I spent several years working in England. While I thoroughly enjoyed this period of my life (and I found the English to be a most hospitable race), the tabloid culture really depressed me. Everthing was viewed through the prism of a red top. Some of the most intelligent people I have ever met seemed to take their cue from what the Sun, Star or Mirror Editor wrote. The more misguided of the populace bought the Torygraph thinking they were somehow more discerning. The more xenophobic among them bought the Mail and never wondered why they came to detest the Irish. The feeding frenzy around a suspect politician or a fallen pop idol would turn your stomach. Get this, one professional footballer was even condemned for buying the Guardian. This choice of newspaper, his third level education and an interest in antiques, it seemed, was a sure sign that he was gay. And being gay was the worst insult. Well actually being an Irish gay was probably worse but they knew that this was impossible "what with it being against the Cafflick church and all".

It was always a pleasure coming back to Ireland and being able to read a decent newspaper. But now it seems that we've raced to the same bottom as the English tabloids

In recent weeks, several high profile individuals have been caught in the cross hairs of the meeja.

Barry McSweeney lost his job as the Government's Chief Science Advisor
Liam Lawlor died in a car crash and the media printed a inaccurate prostitute connection
Frank Connolly is accused of being a FARC training provo
Ivor Callely is hounded out of office by a concerted media campaign

Now don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of any of these individuals. But while we congratulate ourselves on a series of jobs well done consider the following.

McSweeney's appointment was political in the first place and everyone knew the quality of his PhD when he was appointed. He was "exposed" by academics disgruntled at his plans for university reform. No-one has really asked why he got the job in the first place and why it became so important that he have a credible PhD. The Irish Independent (and others) knew that a dead man can't be defamed, so they stuck the boot in causing considerable pain to a grieving Lawlor family. Perhaps we should ask why this newspaper was so full of vitriol? Connolly may be a FARC trainer par excellence but has Mr McDowell not heard of something called due process? And if he know this man has committed a crime why has he not called the guards in? Ivor seems to be a hardworking politician - a self-serving hard-working politician perhaps but I can't help wonder why the sudden frenzy to "take him out" at all costs?

Do we really have to dumb everything down?


Blogger Steven said...

Good post...


11:32 a.m., December 09, 2005  
Blogger JL Pagano said...

Do we really have to dumb everything down?

To provide meaningful and thought-provoking journalism, no.

To shift papers, tragically yes.

12:28 p.m., December 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The english are hospitable?? You must have mixed with a different crowd than I did. I found them reserved, polite and inclined to hold back. You could be going to yoga for years,lying on the floor next to them every week and never get beyond 'hello'. You could be in the same riding class for ages and never get invited for a drink afterwards. You could be hugely pregnant, not see them for weeks and then find them surprised that you'd had a baby. (All of these are true stories.)
They have a different definition of hospitality, I found.
But I don't want to criticise them. They have other wonderful qualities, like tolerance, courage and reliability.

Did the 'scientist' buy a PhD without contributing original research? If he did, I think that is disgraceful.

Did the junior minister accept a freebie and not think it wrong? If so, how can he remain in post?

paul o'mahony (

1:25 p.m., December 09, 2005  

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