Press Watch: A new column…

We’re not sure how regular this column will be, since it will depend to some extent on what comes in from you the readers. But f you see something wrong, misleading or inaccurate (Slugger O’Toole included, btw!!) then send it into Mick at and he will pass it on. We cannot guarantee to publish everything we receive, but we’ll do our best to bring you the best. Here’s a couple of starters.

First, these two divergent lines on the same story on the same day and published as a follow up to the tragic death of RTE’s Gerry Ryan…

Irish Daily Star, 4 May 2010, page 1

“Gerry Died Broke”

Irish Daily Mirror, 4 May 2010, page 4.

“Gerry will leave everything he owned to his wife, Morah… Ryan was still worth more than €2.5 million.”

More recently when the French team came home from South Africa, someone got their story mangled. But which one?

Irish Times 24 June 2010

“Mr. Sarkozy…is due to meet (Thierry) Henri in Paris today after the player asked for an opportunity to give the squad’s version of events.” Ruadhain Mac Cormaic, p. 10.

Irish Daily Star 24 June 2010

“Furious Nicolas Sarkozy has demanded a meeting with cheat Thierry Henri after France’s shameful World Cup.” Patrick Lawlor, p. 7.

And this last, which may have helped trigger some of the recent hysteria inside Fine Gael…

Quiz: which of the following quotations is (a) accurate and (b) from the paper of record?

(a) “The Labour Party has now become the biggest party in the State for the first time in its history, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.”

(b) “Labour last night dramatically became the best supported party in an opinion poll for the first time.”

Clue: (a) is from the Irish Times, (b) is from the Irish Independent, same date.

Answers on a postcard please to Madame G. Kennedy, Editor, Irish Times.

More next Monday…

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  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Slugger seems to be doing too much navel gazing lately.
    As a person who often comments on how the Media (including the Slugger team) treat stories, I am unsure how exactly its supposed to work.
    Surely its diversionary to sideline perceived criticism of the “Story” and perceived criticism of the Blogger into a special cul-de-sac rather than have the criticism in the main story.
    A cynic would surely see this as a way of protecting the core team and dealing with troublesome commenters.

    My position is that when the Media gets hold of an “event” it becomes “mediated”. It becomes a “Story” which is necessarily different from the “event” itself.
    In setting up “Press Watch” Slugger might appear to be acknowledging that there is a genuine concern about how its core team reports their own “speciality” or “obsession” and is dealing with it by diverting it into a ghetto…thereby drawing its sting.

    But three points. If one believes that the Media is actually the Story….then that view seems to be confirmed by these Press Watch threads being er “mediated”.
    None of the above examples appears to be a “Slugger” example. In the interests of balance we culd have been presented with one.
    And thirdly……I have little or no time for the Editor of the Irish Times. But is it really “fair” to refer to her as “Madame G Kennedy”?

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s pretty simple. Send us anything you think is noteworthy about the way the press conducts its business. It’s not meant to be about getting personal, just about keeping an eye on the guards, so to speak.

  • Neil

    Would come in handy when discussing people bricking small girls in the face at a) 7.30 p.m. or b) 12.30 a.m.,

  • Greenflag

    ‘just about keeping an eye on the guards, so to speak.’

    Question 1

    ‘Who polices the police’?

    Question 2

    ‘Who polices those who police the police ‘?

    Question 3

    ‘Who polices those who police those who police the police ‘?


    The electorate in theory -in practice the established interests of all societies who have the most to lose if the police ever stop being the police .

    Maybe not a bad idea : I noted the absence of a thread on the recent Irish Government’s decision to expel an Israeli diplomat . In fairness there had been a surfeit of comment on Gaza as there will be no doubt again in the non too distant future 🙁

  • interested

    “It’s pretty simple. Send us anything you think is noteworthy about the way the press conducts its business. It’s not meant to be about getting personal, just about keeping an eye on the guards, so to speak.”

    We could certainly start here. Mick – invariably your posts are absolutely riddled with the most basic misspellings.

    A little less hubris, ta.

  • Mick Fealty


  • interested

    “verdict against Gaileo was rational and just…”


    Presumably you’ll be watching how the press actually spell things?

  • Pete Baker


    Corrected now.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Good points.
    This measure trailed as and even possibly designed to be facilitating could so easily become restrictive.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Sometimes I think it would be fun to take a tabloid paper, cut out all the half truths and outright lies and see just how many “facts” are left.

  • Drumlin Rock

    The Chief Constable & Senior Police Officers, The Police Ombudsman, The District Policing Partnerships, The Police Board, The Policing & Justice Minister, The First & Deputy First Minister, The Executive, The Policing & Justice Committee, The Secretary of State, The Courts local national & European, The media, Slugger O’Toole, and Mark McGregor,
    is that enough yet Greenflag?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    What are the ‘laws’ regarding one media outlet lifting stuff and posting it on another?

    I saw a serious case of this a few weeks back.

  • Munsterview

    For quite a significant period of my life, for over thirty years in fact, I had a lot of friends in the press, some close, and by and large retained these friendships. I also spend enough time in the company of press people to have got to know the nature of the beast and see how the press worked from the inside out!

    While this ‘press watch’ can have a useful function, how useful is open to question. Anyone with an interest in the real world, especially in this internet age will long since worked out other reliable sources to keep updated at national and International news, or as is more important, what is behind the news.

    How reliable is mainstream news anyway ?

    I have frequently referred to the fact that all so called security correspondence in the South are regularly collectively wined and dined at taxpayers expense by Garda Head Quarters. Senior members of the Gardai attend and a good old off the record ‘insider off the record natter’ is had by all.

    At an open seminar for trainee journalists in Limerick University, I have been reliably informed that the editor of the Sunday Tribune confirmed that this system was in operation, that if a security correspondent took a contrary line to what the Gardai wanted they did not get invited to the next meeting, and that if an anti gardai story had to be broken then a journalist other than the security corespondent had to do it.

    In short far from the security correspondents holding the Gardai to account the reverse is the case, the Gardai can hold the security correspondence to account for bad publicity and even have a punishing mode in place by not inviting the offender to the next meeting or two.

    How free or informed is our press on these circumstances in the South.

    We have a political Press lobby that operate in a similar way

    We have a property press lobby that operate in a similar way

    We have a medical press lobby that operate in a similar way

    We have a clerical press lobby that operate in a similar way

    All of these and more have a cosy insiders club where any member of the press telling it like it is, will find themselves ostracized not alone by the vested interests concerned but by their own professional colleagues also.

    Any sort of ‘Press Watch’ that throw light on these issues cannot but be welcome and contribute to more openness and democracy in society.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    There is a logical progression here.
    Many of the regulars on Slugger are Journalists, pretend Journalists like me, party insiders and academics….what the Americans term the “beltway”.
    There is a case to be made that Slugger O’Toole functions in much the same way as “Private Eye” (it has a Hack Watch column also) …detached from Reality and addicted to the dubious charms of the Media.

  • Damian O’Loan

    A very good idea.

    If I can help shed some light on why Nicolas Sarkozy spent the day before a G8/G20 in talks with a footballer, this is from the more authoritative Le Monde (25/6/10):

    “It is difficult to know who is at the origin of this process, which should further spoil the aftertaste for the French team. According to the Elysée, the highest scorer in the history of les Bleus asked himself to meet Nicolas Sarkozy. “Thierry Henry called the President from South Africa to say he wanted to see him on his return,” explained the Palace in the first instance. After Henry’s arrival at the Elysée, a person close to Mr Sarkozy repeated that it was indeed the player who had contacted “the secretariat of the Head of State” to ask for the meeting.

    On the other hand, an RTL report alleges that it was Nicolas Sarkozy and not Thierry Henry who asked for the meeting, following a telephone discussion with the player on Tuesday evening. A theory also defended by Pierre Menès, close to Thierry Henry, on his blog, who considers that it was the Palace which asked the player to come. Thierry Henry made no comment before leaving South Africa, and was happy to tell the press only that he would “speak soon.” ”

    There has been no comment since the meeting on its contents. So it appears both Irish papers made claims without evidence to support them, although unsurprisingly the Irish Times has at least gone with the official version of events.

  • Greenflag

    I’ve noticed that in really successful businesses the organisation chart generally ensures that any employee has one boss to whom he or she is responsible and accountable for job performance and results .

    Too many bosses like too many cooks spoil the broth or else turn it into a cesspool of bureaucratic inefficiency, stupidity and costly double jobbing , nimbyism etc etc .

    Your listing above Drumlin Rock would seem to suggest that in the matter of ‘organisational’ norms the poor PSNI have so much oversight that they may not believe what their eyes tell them nor what their ears hear .

    I know the feeling 🙁

    It’s when the left hand openeth the door only to see the same door closeth again by the right hand before the threshold can be crossed thus giving rise to the position of eternal stasis . A fitting metaphor for the current NI state -forever on the threshold going nowhere neither in nor out but just forever up and down like Dolly Fawcett’ s undergarments ;)?

  • CMK

    Munsterview, interesting points.

    Do we have a trade union press lobby that operate in the way you describe?

    Are there ‘red lines’ beyond which journalists are not permitted to stray? Because each of the interest groups you list have been subject to pretty scathing press over the past few years and dozens of scandals have been broken.

    Is there an element of quid pro quo at work, whereby the medical press lobby dish up a couple of scandals on a regular basis, in return for the press turning a blind eye to deeper structural issues. For instance, we get the Michael Neary and Michael Shine scandals but little sustained coverage or analysis of health inequalities which delibitate and kill at a greater order of magnitude.

    Today’s ‘Morning Ireland’ from 8.25am onwards, was a classic example of how the media are willing to prosecute political agendas. Fionnan Sheahan of the Independent stated that a flat rate water tax would be implemented forthwit by the government; and, hey presto, fifteen minutes later a spokesperson for the group water schemes is given several minutes to expound about how charging for water is really the way forward. All without a single critical comment or challenge from the presenters concerned.