Journalists warn of biased media at National Media Conference

Credit NMC2013’s Facebook

JOURNALISTS and students alike flocked to Trinity College Dublin on Saturday for the second annual National Media Conference, in association with the Irish Times. According to organisers, over 200 students and figures from the media
were in attendance for a series of debates and speeches on a range of issues regarding the press, television and radio in Ireland. Panellists included Liveline presenter Joe Duffy, the Irish Times’ Editor Kevin O’Sullivan and Morning Ireland presenter Fran McNulty. Many of the panellists discussed the various class and ethnic biases which permeate the media. ‘The only working class voices appearing on RTE at the moment are those from Love/Hate,’ said Joe Duffy.

Former deputy editor of Metro Éireann Catherine Reilly also alluded to the lack of ethnic minorities included in Irish media, which she referred to as ‘severely lacking’. Bob Collins, Chairperson of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, said that there was also ‘undoubtedly a class bias in reporting. News is far too middle class in composition… The working class should not only be of interest at Budget time.’ In another panel, which included Irish Times’ Features Editor Conor Goodman, Morning Ireland’s Fran McNulty and co-founder of boards.ie Tom Murphy, Murphy stirred controversy when he referred to Irish Times’ columnist John Watters as a ‘troll’. Murphy also criticised the media for ‘cow-towing to elites’, such as politicians, priests and bankers in Irish news reportage. Goodman also warned of the dangers of social media as a reliable news source, and said: ‘Stories circulating social media will be interpreted as a rumour until it appears on RTE, Irish Times and the BBC.’

The film panel included director of Threesome and Moone Boy Ian FitzGibbon, and Ed Guiney, producer of What Richard Did and Garage, who discussed the changing industry, in which he claims the horror genre has overtaken porn as the most profitable. ‘You can make horror films on the smallest budget with the highest profit. At the moment it is more profitable than porn.’ Director Ronan Burke also claimed that the move of film-watching online was not threatening to the industry: ‘People will always want to go to the cinema. It’s an experience you can’t get watching films online.’

Organisers say that the Twitter hashtag #nmc13 was trending for nine hours in Ireland, and that at one point it was the second trending Twitter tag in the country. Damien Carr, co-director of the National Media Conference said: ‘We feel the event was a tremendous success this year, with great interest and attendance from students and general media enthusiasts across the country. The discussions also attracted great input from the audience which we were also
delighted with.’

Hannah Popham

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