Irish Times on Slugger, Eastwoods and betting the election…

Hmmm… interesting to be described by the Irish Times as ‘a Northern political fetishist… still excited by affairs of the Northern Ireland state…’ I’ll take it as a complement Gerry!! He also notes that we provide “a good mix of analysis, commentary, and observation, and also bytimes venom and insult from its multitude of subscribers, some of it occasionally directed at Irish Times and other journalists whose views are considered ill-informed, or just plain annoying”. I suspect it’s more the latter, than the former: we generally don’t link bad journalism! The piece goes on:

You can also bet on politics, although you’d imagine that the first three home in the 3.40 at Lingfield today, rather than the first six home in north Belfast on March 7th, would be of more interest to Eastwood’s regular punters.

This of course explains why the company has taken out an advertisement on the Slugger O’ Toole website. Those of you who are computer literate can Google Slugger O’Toole and you’ll find the site. And there, on the top right hand corner, you have a picture of Stormont – with shots of Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams, Reg Empey and Mark Durkan, and an enticing invitation to: “Bet the Election”.

Slugger O’Toole is run by blogger Mick Fealty who, as a former Irish Times news editor used to say, is one of those band of “Northern political fetishists” who are still excited by affairs of the Northern Ireland state. Slugger, by the way, was a sailor on the ill-fated Irish Rover. Remember the Pogues and Ronnie singing: “There was Slugger O’Toole, who was drunk as a rule . . .”. It’s a lively site. You get a good mix of analysis, commentary, and observation, and also bytimes venom and insult from its multitude of subscribers, some of it occasionally directed at Irish Times and other journalists whose views are considered ill-informed, or just plain annoying.

Eastwood also approves of Slugger and figure that it provides a captive, target audience of political mugs who will help in swelling even further the coffers of Barney and his family. Now the Eastwoods, like every bookie’s, are a shrewd outfit and try to shape the odds in the company’s rather than the punter’s favour.

The Eastwoods advert is a significant step forward not simply for Slugger but for blogging in general. It suggests that the Pro Ams of the internet are capable of realising value as well as providing an intelligent take on chosen subjects. This grounded commercial arrangement is a recognition of Slugger’s high level, politically engaged audience.

Along with a generous advertising and event sponsorship deal with Stratagem, it will make a vital contribution to Slugger’s coverage of the election. And when the election is over we hope that others, from right across the political spectrum and beyond, will also begin to see the value of advertising with (the largely sober these days) Slugger O’Toole…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty