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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Posh Spice's knickers and Robbie Keane's girlfriend are not news, or are they?

It seems that everyone is very animated all of a sudden over the recent spate of fatal car crashes in the country. I won't call them accidents - in the vast majority of cases, human error or impairment is to blame.

On top of the media calling for Martin Cullen's head (no bad thing in itself, but in fairness, it's not like he was driving any of the cars), all sorts of Irish bloggers from Sunday Times' Sarah Carey to acerbic smoker Twenty Major to the Swearing Lady appear to be very agitated about the issue.

So, working on the counterintuitive logic that people have heard enough about road safety, and also operating on the basis that as long as we have cars we'll have car crashes, I'm going to discuss something entirely different.

What passes for news in this country?

The front pages of the morning papers make desolate reading sometimes. Whether it's the warmed over Government press releases that dot the Irish Times front page, or the shrill moralising usually found on the front of the Irish Daily Mail, it's hard to discern actual NEWS anywhere.

Today's Daily Mirror - and I'm not picking on them specifically, it was just the only one I bought this morning - was a case in point that actually had me wondering whether the papers in this country would recognise news if it swanned into their offices wearing a T-shirt that read 'I'm news, print me!'

Front cover of today's Mirror had the jawdropping revelation that Robbie Keane is going to marry his long-term girlfriend. Yup, a football millionaire is going to marry the girl he's been with for five years. Sometime. We're not sure when. But they are engaged. Even though she's had a ring on her finger for weeks. And this is FRONT PAGE NEWS.

The other revelation from the same front page? 'POSH - Raunchiest pictures yet.' Accompanied by a snap of Skeletor flashing half a malnourished silicon tit.

Now, were the reader somehow brave enough to get past this smorgasbord of irrelevance and actually open the paper, page two is equally fascinating. Actual news - that we're not going to let the Bulgarians or Romanians in - makes an appearance.

And down the side of the page, between a tale of rabbits in Antarctica and the fact that apparently lots of Japanese people are really old, we get the following story. This is it in full, by the way:

France behind 1994 Genocide
France is being accused of taking part in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. French troops there are believed to have armed the Hutu militants who killed 800,000 Tutsis in a 100 day bloodbath. France has denied officially taking sides.

That's it. That's all you're getting. Yes, I know it's a tabloid. Yes, it's about a massacre long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away from CelticTigerland. But clearly I'm missing something here.

Isn't the suggestion that one of the world's major powers armed and caused the massacre of nearly a million people NEWS? More than a suggestion, in fact. A downright overt allegation from someone who ought to know - the man who was Rwandan ambassador to France at the time.

We get a full page of puff about Posh Spice's new 'fashion guide', and three sentences about how one of our allies and neighbours conducted the devastation of an entire country?

According to Reporters Sans Frontieres today, we have the most free press in the world, along with Finland, Iceland and Holland. This, of course, is an assessment that predates Minister McDowell's plans for a privacy law that will devastate the media's ability to report the news.

So with such press freedoms, why do we get such an appalling news agenda across the board?

Go on, people. Someone please explain this to me before I go mad entirely.


Mccaff said...

Read Private Eye. There's stuff in there that doesn't make the newspapers for months... even years..

Like the sell off of all government buildings in NI for instance --- although the government has changed their tune since - The Eye had originally reported that stormont would go too.

It's very anglo-centric, but gives you a far better idea of what really goes on in the world and in government than any newspaper I've read.

JC Skinner said...

I like the Eye, and the Phoenix too. But their existence is no excuse for the national press to completely ignore proper news in order to puff Posh's knickers.

WorldbyStorm said...

In a way isn't it a mix between commercial dictats, the propensity of many people to prefer not-news (as in Metro etc) than news, and the clearly limited ability of the public to absorb depressing information. A sort of 'it's Friday night, lets have a pint/watch something light/whatever' attitude writ large...

And to be honest I'm always amazed at how many people simply don't think about broader issues.

Private Eye is good, although more and more meeja related, the Phoenix better to my mind but still a thin read...

MelloBiafra said...

You gotta hand it to the French though! On Foreign Policy...they sure don't mess about!

MelloBiafra said...

French Statement: "Bonjour! We don't take sides, non, non, we slaughter everybody equally!"