To Journalists

at

By Tom Fitzgerald

After our letter published here last Friday Sally and I sent this press release out to a number of reporters. It was not picked up by any traditional paper. The Irish Times wrote a response in its Saturday paper and there has been an avalanche of response on its Facebook page.

The Irish Times ignored the input of hundreds of its own readers until Tuesday.

Hugh Linehan, IT online editor, responded to those who felt that it was cowardly to call a dead young woman a liar, knowing she was no longer able to defend herself.

The readers of the Irish Times saw Hugh Linehan’s article for what it was, a wandering of worthless words. It was neither adequate as an apology nor as an explanation.

The general view from those responding was that the Irish Times had let itself down, and had devalued journalism as a whole. They raised serious questions about who controls the press in Ireland.

What is quite disturbing to me and to Sally, as Kate’s parents, is that this important story, while creating an unprecedented online storm, has been totally ignored by the traditional media. One senior Irish Times journalist said that “one dog does not eat another”. That is to say that one newspaper does not attack another. Does this explain why other media do not cover this story?

Is it not in the interest of the whole profession to have higher standards in journalism?  When the icon of journalism fails to meet basic standards of journalistic ethics, surely the rest of the press should talk about it. It tarnishes you as well.  Surely, the basic tenet of journalism is that when there is huge interest shown by the public, it is a bona fide story and you cover it.  Beyond journalistic ethics, a tested story sells papers.  Must everything move online as traditional media falters?  So where are you on this?

To me, this appears to be a battle between traditional journalism where feedback is limited, and online journalism where feedback is both instant and relentless. So far, traditional journalism is losing badly.

I’d hate to see the Irish Times go down because of this.  We need an icon, we need a standard and the rest of you journalists need to ensure that the Irish Times keeps that standard going.  It’s time you stood up and voiced your views on the ethics of journalism in Ireland.

Tom Fitzgerald, December 22.

152 thoughts on “To Journalists

  1. Usman

    “Surely, the basic tenet of journalism is that when there is huge interest shown by the public, it is a bona fide story and you cover it”

    indeed

    now where is Ewok with his “things that look like Ireland”

  2. Crested Ted

    Well said Tom, keep fighting the good fight, shocking revelation through all this, that the media is so tightly controlled by the organisations who feel entitled to be the big people at the expense of people they perceive to be the small people. I’m sure this is the injustice that has fired the imagination of the online community, and I for one hope the highlighting of this injustice continues to rear it’s head and embarrass the people involved.

    If nothing else maybe it will warn off potential job seekers, or at least make them fore armed what to expect from an employer.

    Well done Broadsheet

  3. Clare

    While I can’t speak of journalism in Ireland as a whole, I can say that many papers here are seriously lacking in ethics and general standards of journalism. The amount of paraphrasing in stories always astonishes me; I see reporters without recording devices but rather pen & paper, and most do not know shorthand. It’s just a rush to get a story with no fact checking, no real research and little follow-through. And yes, it is absolutely the responsibility of EVERY paper to report the facts – whether it steps on another paper’s toes is irrelevant. It’s not unusual for a publication to have an angle and a voice, but too many here have a flat-out agenda and therefore are blind to anything that doesn’t fit neatly into it. I admire your courage for standing up and speaking out.

  4. The Goat

    Tom & Sally

    Wishing you some peace now and into the future.
    I dont feel I have the right or ability to comment on this subject but I do feel some of your pain.

    If a conclusion of this matter (the IT issue) can be reached to your satisfaction then perhaps some closure that it might offer may in some small way give you peace. I sincerely hope that if this is your desire that you get it this Christmas and that the memory lives on without being tainted by those with ulterior motives.

    Best wishes
    Gareth

  5. Hm?

    I think that this will catch up to the traditional Irish media sooner or later. What might be of benefit is if a big news outlet overseas (In England, for example) would pick up on this story & run with it.

    It’s certainly a prime example of how Irish media are limited by the kind of FF-style cronyism & collusion that got us into the current economic mess.

    1. bisted

      I hope you are right. I am so disappointed with the Irish Times. What happened to the journalistic tenet of ‘publish and be damned’.
      This is not the elephant in the room, this is malign and sinister influence that needs to be exorcised.

  6. Niamh

    Your courage (and that of all your family) is inspirational. I hope you get both justice and some semblance of peace very soon Tom.

  7. Marlon

    Another reason why few print journalist are weighing in on this may be because they’d probably offer a more nuanced view than you’re likely to hear from this website or the people who comment on it, and would, therefore, be savaged by the baying mob on here.

    The last person who offered an – entirely reasonable – dissenting opinion on this story was branded a troll and had their IP address published. Which was a dick move.

    Which isn’t to deny that the Irish Times was handled this appallingly badly. But anyway, go on… rip me to shreds.

    1. Hm?

      No one’s going to savage you petal. But I would disagree (respectfully) with your opening paragraph.

      “Another reason why few print journalist are weighing in on this may be because they’d probably offer a more nuanced view” – I don’t understand what you mean. Do you mean that there’s no desire/ appetite amongst people for a more nuanced viewpoint? Because if that’s the case you’re making, I’d disagree.

      I think many people would very much like to hear a more nuanced view. It would go a long way towards explaining why Kate’s article was changed. Maybe a proper journalist could offer a good case for why it was done or had to be done (whilst acknowledging the moral qualms involved). That’s why people flooded the IT facebook page. They wanted an explanation – a ‘nuanced opinion’. God knows Kate’s family are entitled to one.

      1. Marlon

        Okay, here’s a nuanced view: I’m not the first to point this out, but it is the bottom line as far as any discussion of this topic goes. The original anonymous article wasn’t libellous. The second article by Peter Murtagh wasn’t libellous.

        But post- the revelation of Kate’s and her employer’s identities, the first article most definitely WAS now libellous. What most non-journalists don’t understand – or don’t want to understand – is that the truth or otherwise of what Kate wrote anonymously in that article is not the issue. The issue is that she isn’t here to back it up. So if the Communications Clinic took an action against the Irish Times, the Irish Times would have no defence. It and would therefore be liable to pay enormous damages.

        That’s not to say that the Irish Times hasn’t handled this whole thing appallingly badly, just to say that 99% of people commenting on this don’t seem to understand how libel works.

        1. SDaedalus

          Marlon,

          Legal issues are probably the closest the Irish Times comes to an acceptable excuse for its behaviour – but they don’t explain it properly and I’ve put in a response to Duncan’s comment below saying why.

          If the IT had said legal issues at the start, kept its apology proportionate to what the law might require (e.g saying allegations non-proven) and apologised to all concerned for creating a legal problem with publication of the second article – that would be it as far as this commenter is concerned.

          However, this wasn’t what it did – leading to the concern that there was more than just legal issues involved here.

          1. Marlon

            Unfortunately in a case where legal action is a distinct possibility, apologies will be construed as an admission of wrong doing.

          2. SDaedalus

            well in fact they did apologise to the employer, and Kate herself isn’t in a position to sue, so not sure how an apology as outlined above would have worsened their position legally in any way whatsoever.

        2. EMC

          No PR company would take this to court and highlight what potentially was their own direct role in a suicide. I couldn’t think of a worse bit of PR, they’d be ruined win or lose.

          On the other hand if the communications clinic stopped dealing with the Irish Times, then the IT might lose out on alot of stories, exclusives etc.

          There’s the legal advice.

          1. Zuppy International

            @ Marlon

            “The original anonymous article wasn’t libellous. The second article by Peter Murtagh wasn’t libellous.”

            …and yet TCC were given a direct apology in the IT. That’s the bit I find strange.

        3. hya

          “But post- the revelation of Kate’s and her employer’s identities, the first article most definitely WAS now libellous. What most non-journalists don’t understand – or don’t want to understand – is that the truth or otherwise of what Kate wrote anonymously in that article is not the issue. The issue is that she isn’t here to back it up. So if the Communications Clinic took an action against the Irish Times, the Irish Times would have no defence. It and would therefore be liable to pay enormous damages.”

          So they should have severed the identification link by editing or withdrawing Peter Murtaugh’s piece. Before that piece there was no case and no issue. They should have simply removed her name. It is out of course, but so is the content of her letter. Same difference – but they chose to blame it on her and not on themselves.

          They should have left her work and message alone, signed by “Grace” it does not threaten anyone. The mess was of their own making.

          Ruining her message, betraying her trust and finally calling her a liar – an allegation that could not even be backed up when asked for evidence – is what gets the “mob” to “bay”.

          And then there is the issue of stonewalling the story by all traditional media, political influences, conflicts of interest galore and the general snakes nest aspect we got a glimpse at.

        4. Dave, Dublin

          Just regarding your assumption that the “first article most definitely WAS now libellous”. Where is the evidence of this? The Irish Times described the piece as “factually inaccurate” which is not the same thing as admitting it was potentially libellous. Hugh Linehan in his apology/explanation similarly avoided making the same claim. If the IT took legal advice that the piece libelled a third party (not potentially libelled, mind), then they should retract.

          However, their apology to TCC and subsequent explanations have not clarified this, and this is where the confusion and anger of their readers is arising. There’s an impression that they’ve apologised for no valid reason, and in doing so, caused great harm to a grieving family. It seems that they’re avoiding this issue and so compounding their perceived mistake.

          Now, I take your points, and I’m not trying to selectively quote or wind you up. I’m just trying to clarify why I don’t think you can put all of these negative comments down to simple mob mentality.

    2. Hm?

      And when you say that such a person would “be savaged by the baying mob on here”. I don’t want their explanation to appear here. I want it to appear in a publication. I want them to acknowledge the situation in print. To make people aware of it outside of the interwebs.

      And I don’t think that they are not doing so because they think that a more nuanced view would not interest people, or out of fear of anonymous internet commentators. I think it’s entirely because of the reason Mr Fitzgerald gave above “one dog does not eat another”.

          1. Listrade

            out of interest, why not? I can see why the IT could have had an argument against an action, but don’t think it’s as absolute as you make out.

            Once the employer became identifiable, there is an issue of their loss of reputation. As far as I can see the only possible defence is the Labour Court case for constructive dismissal. Even though people are fond of mentioning this case, it was never ruled on and was settled, so isn’t very strong evidence unless the employee involved would be prepared to break whatever NDA they had signed in order to defend the IT.

            The point being, I can understand the reasonable fear of legal action, just not the method to correct that,

          2. Daz

            Listrade, I take your point.

            However, please see below a cut of part of s 20 and s 26 from the Defamation Act 2009

            20.—(1) It shall be a defence (to be known, and in this section referred to, as the “defence of honest opinion”) to a defamation action for the defendant to prove that, in the case of a statement consisting of an opinion, the opinion was honestly held.

            (2) Subject to subsection (3), an opinion is honestly held, for the purposes of this section, if—
            (a) at the time of the publication of the statement, the defendant believed in the truth of the opinion or, where the defendant is not the author of the opinion, believed that the author believed it to be true,

            26.—(1) It shall be a defence (to be known, and in this section referred to, as the “defence of fair and reasonable publication”) to a defamation action for the defendant to prove that—

            (a) the statement in respect of which the action was brought was published—
            (i) in good faith, and
            (ii) in the course of, or for the purpose of, the discussion of a subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit,
            (b) in all of the circumstances of the case, the manner and extent of publication of the statement did not exceed that which was reasonably sufficient, and
            (c) in all of the circumstances of the case, it was fair and reasonable to publish the statement.

          3. YankeeDoodle

            I think saying the company committed illegal acts is defamatory, no atter how you spin it. That line should have been removed. Everything else is fine. I would ask anyone to tell me what part defamed an actual human.

            I studied law in Ireland but work in the US. Apparently in the last 3 years ye have changed the law so now companies can be defamed. Which is madness. But as it is the current law I think TCC can claim to be defamed by saying it did illegal acts.

      1. Listrade

        This is why although it’s a reasonable post, somethings in this saga just smell bad. Like the repeated use of “mob” from some posters and the repeated posts from individual(s) from MOP.

        I can accept the IT f*ck ups and the f*ck ups to try to undo the f*ck ups. But behind that there’s the direct threats to BS and other issues that just keep a rotten smell to the whole thing.

        1. Xiao Liu

          As one of the commenters who used the “braying/baying mob” epithet (once), I feel I ought to clarify that by that I (for one) only refer to aggressive comments of the form “Ha, gotcha, those idiots!” or “Kick [redacted] up the arse!” or simply “Let’s get ‘em!”

          The reason I used that derogatory term for these kinds of comments is that I’m very wary of that kind of online rage directed at real-life targets. This is because, on the Chinese internet, which I watch, online campaigns which start with a similar tone quite regularly turn into so-called “human flesh search-engines,” sometimes ending in real-life violence (for instance against perceived enemies of the Chinese nationalist cause).

          To anyone commenting in full sentences and with reasoned arguments, I was not referring to you, and I’m sorry if you felt addressed by it. I completely agree that this affair smells deeply rotten, and I support Broadsheet’s excellent efforts to get to the bottom of it.

  8. Diabhal

    “Who controls the media in Ireland?” This is a crucial aspect of this that the IT has consistently ignored.
    If, as one can reasonably suspect here, PR companies can easily cow a national newspaper at will, then one must ask: How much of this has been going on to date? What other vital public interest stories have been killed?
    Dear Irish Times,
    We trusted you. Were we fools?

  9. Gen

    Tom, I only came accross this tragic and worrying story in the last week and have been saddened and angered by it. I too have wondered why the story has not been picked by print and radio to any great degree and it is worrying indeed that it has not.

    I have emailed The Communications Clinic stating that I am boycotting any media platform which includes a direct contribution from CC staff/ directors until such time as they have the grace to address your concerns publicly. I cc’d a number of organisations in the email such as the IT, TV3, TodayFm, RTE and The Examiner in the hope that these organisations being to get the message that they’re audience has serious concerns as to the credibility of CC staff/ directors.

    I admire your resilience and determination in your continuing attempt for accountability, transparency and for Kate’s vindication. I am so sorry for your loss, clearly Kate was someone whom you must have been so very proud of.

    1. Daithi

      Well said and done Gen.

      Some one above said that it should be picked up by a UK paper since they would have a significant customer base here in Ireland.

      I think Broadsheet should gather all reports and evidence and mail the Guardian or Independent in the UK on this and ask them to run with the story.

      The IT was the only Irish paper that I would purchase, but now I’m reduced to buying The Guardian/Observer and looking on here or listening to RTE for local news. Shame really.

        1. bisted

          I agree with this but why should I have to change my reading habits. The new editor of the IT is hardly a wet week in the job. If he had a single shred of pride he would resign and let some light be shone on this murky episode.

    2. Conor

      The problem with that stance is that, as is the case with most PR companies, when an article hits the stands, or a story is broadcast, the hand of the PR is a silent and annonymous one. Papers usually describe them as ‘a spokesperson for….’ or ‘speaking on behalf of…..’. They rarely identify the fact that the person being quoted is a PR professional. Which is how the PR people like to keep it, strangely enough. So, essentially, you’re never likely to know when the Communications Clinic is involved in a story, laudable and all as your proposal is.

  10. Brian

    Well said Tom, wishing you and your family the best possible Christmas and new year in what is undoubtedly a difficult time for you all.

    For what’s it worth Kate’s story is the first story that compelled me to write to a newspaper editor, the first time I felt bound to post a comment on an IT story and broadsheet’s coverage of same is the only time I have +1′d anything on the web. I truly hope some good can come of this trying situation.

    I hope you find some peace and satisfaction.

    Best regards,
    Brian

  11. Jockstrap

    Journalists in Ireland were traditionally bought off with a Chateau Neuf and a nice steak in Dobbins. The editors were friends of the influential and their job was to maintain a status quo perception of reality.

    A small number of people in key positions in the civil service, media, business and church called the shots over an above our constitution and legal system. Bribes were everywhere. Everyone had a price. People’s lives were ruined if they interfered with the system.

    Class divisions were maintained and perpetuated so that people were denied access to opportunity and wealth if they weren’t from the right schools.

    So-called working class newspapers were in fact owned by wealthy middle class businessmen who told them what to think and guided them away from questioning and seeking real knowledge.

    These days those newspapers use fear and racism to distract working class people from what really matters, such as laws being changed to suit businesses and state assets being auctioned off in exchange for lucrative world lecture tours – a modern form of bribery.

    Journalism in Ireland is not a noble profession. It’s in the pocket of business and politics and has been for generations.

    1. Clare

      Well stated. It should be noted that there are a lot of hard-working, ethical worker bees at this publications who try (often in vain) to do an honest day’s work. NOTW being a prime example. Let’s not skewer all journalists but those in charge need to start taking responsibility.

  12. Emer

    One thing that amazes me is – of all the journalists on Twitter, and there are lots of them, some proclaiming to ‘love to rock boats’ haha – they have been largely silent on this. Weirdly silent. With the exception of one cowboy yesterday who had a swipe at Broadsheet for publishing the solicitor-troll’s IP address.

    I can only conclude it is fear. Maybe the bully-boy tactics we have seen from the Irish Times are a daily feature of individual journalist’s working lives. Even so it’s pathetic. Maybe Gene Kerrigan will tackle it. Or maybe it’s like asking the turkeys to vote for Christmas. If they are so compromised, they will likely do as Anglo Irish did and keep on truckin ’til they self-destruct.

    Also the idea they seem to have that everyone who posts on Broadsheet is student is so far off the mark it’s almost funny. People of all ages who used to like nothing more than reading the newspaper over their morning coffee have turned to the internet, because in cases such as this, traditional media are closing ranks, trying to make stories go away and make idiots of us all. Stories they would investigate if they were worth their salt. Thank you Mr Fitzgerald for having the strength to highlight this while grieving, and thank you Broadsheet for refusing to be silenced.

    1. Oireachtas Retort

      There are plenty of hard working hacks working in Ireland, real reporters. Likewise PR has done some good like daffodil day.

      But it’s harder to find the higher up the ladder you go. We can all think of senior people in almost every media organisation who week in week out shill for vested interests and appear to relish dividing the people while the top put they’re hand ever deeper into our pockets.

      It goes without saying everyone should be aware of who knows who in the Irish establishment.

      To follow the dog analogy you can watch how even the non Murdoch press closed ranks when the hacking was blowing up in the summer. Or contrast the reaction to the NOTW or Trib closing to the reaction to the hundreds of job losses they report every week.

      Journalism is a messy, imperfect trade as someone once said but we only need to support ones trying to clean it up.

  13. Trapper

    Very well said Tom, and you’re right, it is a bona fide story, one that is largely (but should not be) ignored by the rest of the Irish media – I can only guess as to why others have only paid lip-service to this. The biggest reaction I’ve seen so far from other Irish journalists was yesterday when Hugh Linehan was getting questioned about the IT’s response – nearly everyone of them slated Broadsheet, when they should look to themselves about how they have so courageously NOT covered Kate’s story.

    My thoughts are with yourself, Sally, and William.

  14. Duncan

    From my understanding of the story . . .

    * Kate was a fan of The Irish Times;
    * She submitted an article, which contained serious allegations against her employers, but because it was anonymous the newspaper felt safe to print it, and decided to because it was so powerful;
    * Her dad contacted the paper after it was printed to say he thought it was his daughter that wrote the article, and to tell them that she had killed herself;
    * The Irish Times wrote a very moving article, detailing what had happened, naming Kate;
    * Though good intentioned, The Irish Times made a mistake in naming her as the girl that had written the original article, because it was now obvious who her employers were;
    * The Irish Times took legal advice (I’m not sure if the PR company forced this, I seem to remember someone saying they called the newspaper to complain) and the advice was that the newspaper was now open to being sued.
    * In the face of this, The Irish Times felt it had no option but to edit the original article and print an apology to the communications clinic.

    From what I understand here, people seem to think The Irish Times could have simply ignored the legal advice and faced the big bills that, presumably, their lawyers were saying would/could follow.

    I absolutely understand people being angry – on the surface this is a dead girl v big companies.

    What I fail to understand is what people think should have happened the day the legal advice was given (presumably to the editor) that the piece should be edited and an apology printed.

    The options were:
    * Follow the legal advice.
    * Ignore the legal advice and face the consequences. (the article had already been printed so there was no time for investigation – and anyway, anyone here who thinks proof could have been found that a dead girl HAD actually been bullied by her employers is seriously deluding themselves.)

    I’m afraid at the start this topic was about depression and suicide – now it’s just about kicking a newspaper – that definitely made mistakes in handling the story – but was brave enough to tackle a subject that others refuse to touch.

    P.S. I realise this is not the sort of post that would gain favour with Broadsheet, but please don’t print my IP address (I suspect, like others, I’m on this site when I’m supposed to be work)

    1. SDaedalus

      Duncan

      I understand what you say about the legal position, but all the IT would have had to do in that case would be to simply say that they were not in a position to prove the assertions.

      Instead they chose to deem them ‘non-factual’ – not at all the same thing – and then talked about unspecified “further information” which had led them to this conclusion. This is significantly more than would have been required legally – and that’s what causes the concern.

      They also framed the apology in such a way as to indicate that legal considerations were not an issue ‘no legal representation was made’.

      That’s the problem, really. They could still clear it up, if they wanted to, by providing a proper explanation.

      1. Duncan

        Thanks for the reply SDaedalus.

        But surely saying “they were not in a position to prove the assertions” would not have been enough.

        If someone accused someone else in a newspaper of, say, of beating their kids.
        And it later turned out that it was obvious that I was the one being accused in the newspaper, I can assure you the newspaper simply saying “”they were not in a position to prove the assertions” would bloody well not be enough for me.

        I’d require a full apology, or proof that I did. Otherwise it’s off to the courts with me.

        1. SDaedalus

          I would have thought that the best way to phrase it would be ‘unsubstantiated’ or something like that, together with an abject apology for not having figured this out in advance before publication.

          Think about it – if newspaper apologies adopted the position of deeming all statements that couldn’t be proved “non-factual” (which basically means ‘untrue’) this could get the paper into hot water, legally, with the maker of the statement.

          Also, the apology itself, and Kevin’s subsequent statement, indicates that “non-factual” wasn’t the same as not being able to prove the facts in the article, it was more than this – new information had come to light.

          Don’t forget as well that the terms of the apology itself say that no legal representation was made, so it’s not a situation where the lawyers for the employer insisted on this wording being in the apology.

      2. Pedanto, the Hilarity Man

        Hugh Linehan explained “not factual”. As far as I understand it, simply pointing out that the claims were not verifiable wouldn’t clear the potential libel.

        If a newspaper wrongly accused me of bullying, I would reach for a lawyer. If their apology said that the claims were “not verifiable” I would keep reaching.

        Duncan’s summary of events looks very clear and fair. The TImes shouldn’t have identified Kate, because it made the company identifiable. Having done so, they had to apologise and they had to withdraw the piece.

        I don’t know why they did it so clumsily. It’s a difficult situation for a fairly new editor, but he has had plenty of time to think about it and take advice. If this is the best he can do, after having so long to reflect, I fear for the paper under his tenure. Which I expect to be short.

        1. SDaedalus

          Pedanto

          See above.

          The IT specifically stated in the apology that it was not made in response to legal representations.

          It also stated that it had additional information indicating that Kate’s story was inaccurate.

          The two things make it difficult to characterise the IT’s behaviour as just due to clumsy wording in an apology.

          1. SDaedalus

            along with, of course, the IT’s failure to come out and say – well we had no option legally.

            The first mention of legal matters by the IT was in Hugh’s piece on Tuesday.

            Even then, he just says “legal and financial considerations”.

    2. Dec

      I agree with this analysis.
      Here is our problem as readers…

      We are making the assumption that Kate’s allegations against her employer are true, but how do we know that for certain?

      Putting all emotion aside, why should we believe Kate?

      When it gets down to it, this is “he said, she said”.

      The only story in this is how it has been handled by IT and Prone. But what option did they have?

      Imagine if it was YOU against whom allegations were made by a person who then passed away?

      What if those allegations were untrue?

      You might like to think you’d handle it differently – but would you really?

      1. Crested Ted

        @Dec

        “We are making the assumption that Kate’s allegations against her employer are true, but how do we know that for certain?

        Putting all emotion aside, why should we believe Kate? ”

        I think…….

        People are making a bit more than an assumptions for 2 main reasons, and because of these 2 reasons she is to be believed.

        1. Other employees of the same Company have made the same allegations, which did not see court.

        2. When Kate made the allegations, she made them anonymously, with no malice directed towards her employer. Her untimely passing has thrust this into the public eye highlighting which company she was referring to by default.

        These 2 factors in isolation of each other would be enough for any reasonable doubt, but put together they provide over whelming evidence of something not right in their abillity to mange employees. H allegedly

        1. Crested Ted

          Oh for an edit button, should read “Manage” in the last line, they clearly don’t Mange their employees.

          The H alegedly was intended

    3. Hm?

      I think that’s an excellent post Duncan. And I think that if the IT had provided something like what you just wrote when the thing broke, people would have had more information & would be less upset at the actions of the IT.

    4. spucks

      duncan i think it’s worth adding that much anger has been caused by the manner in which the article was edited. the pieces which were edited out changed the entire tone of the piece which then reflected positively on her employer.
      any rational person who has followed this will agree that the irish times were in a difficult legal position and wouldn’t expect the paper to leave an accusation against a named employer on their site.
      had the IT taken down the original and posted an explanation for that, as well as informing kate’s family of this, then i think the level of anger directed at them would have been far less.

    5. Hm?

      The only area where I’d disagree Duncan, is when you stated that this is now “about kicking a newspaper”. Bollocking the IT may not be big or clever, but their actions warrant this kicking and it is relevant to a wider issue.

      To my mind, the issue is the arrogance of editing the words of someone who is no longer around. If the IT had removed the article, apologized for f**king it up by identifying Kate & listed the reasons which you outlined above, I think that people would have been more understanding.

      I think that the editing of parts of Kate’s article (without informing or discussing it with Kate’s parents, at least ) and asserting in their apology to the CC that parts of it were “not factual” displays breathtaking arrogance. Arrogance which was then re-iterated in their slowness to respond to people’s questions and comments. (& I know it’s just my opinion, but I felt Linehan’s apology to be half-assed & insincere).

      The wider issue at stake, which Mr Fitzgerland outlined above, is the question of transparency & ethics in Irish journalism. The refusal to acknowledge the story in mainstream media has been shocking.

    6. hya

      “What I fail to understand is what people think should have happened the day the legal advice was given (presumably to the editor) that the piece should be edited and an apology printed.”

      They should have edited her name and all identifying details out of their own piece and issued an apology to all concerned. Possible taken the whole piece down. Casa finita.

  15. SDaedalus

    Once again, a very fair and reasonable statement on the part of Kate’s family.

    It’s very sad that things have come to the stage where a statement like this has to be issued.
    Perhaps the Irish Times acted with the best of intentions – I don’t know. But at the very least its readers – and in particular Kate’s family – deserve an explanation of why the article was edited. All that has been provided so far is simply double-speak.

    I appreciate it may be difficult for members of the very small and close-knit community that is the traditional media to view this whole business objectively. But to edit and then remove the article of a deceased person, stating that significant assertions made in it were non-factual, without giving reasons – even to that person’s family – as to why this was deemed to be so and then to make vague references to “further information” having come forward, without saying what that further information is – is simply unacceptable, on any standard.

    It’s very sad to see a journalist of the calibre of Hugh Linehan trying to justify this type of behaviour. It’s also very sad to see people outside the Irish Times like Vincent Browne, Justine McCarthy etc. (to name a few, there are many more) staying conspicuously silent.

    There’s a moral and ethical obligation on the Irish Times to provide a proper explanation as to why it deemed the assertions in Kate’s article non-factual – and if it doesn’t do so, then it should be called out on this.

    This has already been done – in truly unprecedented fashion – by its readers but also needs to be done by other journalists if those journalists are to retain credibility as people who fight for fairness and transparency not just as regards other professions but also – always the most difficult – as regards their own.

    It’s not about a baying mob, or a witchhunt just about simple fairness and respect for a deceased girl and her family.

  16. watty graham

    Thank you very, very much sir: for your example of moral grace and dignity under what must be extreme stress. You are the exemplar of a Father anyone would be proud to have.

  17. shay

    I have to say.. Fair play to the man for being so diplomatic about something that’s obviously very distressing to him. That takes some character!
    But the Irish times have really shot themselves in the foot with this one and its regular readers are dropping like flies. I doubt they realised how big of a torn in its side this was going to be.

  18. PuntPrinter

    I really cant see why mainstream media isnt covering this ( apart from the obvious reason alluded to in the passage above ) whole episode of on line comment on this sad subject. Yesterdays additional hoo ha with solicitors firms and IP this that and t’udder is genuinely news worthy stuff.

  19. Hm?

    Regardless of the f**kups by whom & why & whatever, I hope that the Fitzgeralds can find some solace this Christmas by being proud of their daughter &proud of the bravery & compassion she showed in writing that final article.

    She’s brought a hugely important issue to a wider audience &hopefully that will help someone who may have an employee suffering from mental illness.

  20. Paul

    For Tom and Sally-Ann Fitzgerald: there are a lot of people thinking of you this Christmas and I hope you can draw some support from that in your difficult time.
    Paul

  21. Hm?

    And the IT, for all their f**kups & all the deserved criticism, should be acknowledged for running Kate’s article day 1 and for trying to acknowledge her memory in Peter Murtagh’s piece.

  22. Harry

    I don’t buy the sun “newspaper”
    Nor will I buy the Irish times ever again!!
    Print media is dying!

  23. Roger Melly SC

    Mr. Fitzgerald’s bravery and integrity again highlights the pusillanimity and Duckworth ethics at the Irish Times.

    Kevin O’Sullivan should stand down.

  24. AoifeD

    A newspaper should be primarily concerned with uncovering and presenting the truth, not with covering its ass. Otherwise it’s just PR. This requires developing some spine, such as that shown by Broadsheet in the face of threats.

    Increasing numbers of readers have come to recognise that spin is all they’re getting, and have been saying No in droves. The IT kowtowing to the Communications Clinic is just more of the same. Yessir, no sir, kate who sir.

  25. Naomi taylor

    You only have to look at the way the Tom Humphries case was covered (or not as it happened) to see how right the Fitzgerald family are about journalists all sticking together.

  26. zero

    Dear Tom,
    First of all I hope that you and your family can take some comfort from the support you have gathered throughout Ireland and probably the world and try to have a happy Christmas in the knowledge that you are in a lot of peoples thoughts this year.Of course this will not make up for the pain you have suffered with the loss of Kate, nor the hurt you have suffered in the recent weeks.
    Your daughters death, while tragic, has helped raise awareness of two things in this country – 1. that mental health still seems to be a dirty word and topic for a great deal of people and 2. the pathetic standard to which the national media hold themselves to. Hopefully the tragedy of Kates death will make people suffering with depression aware that help is there and that if people have an issue with it then that’s their own problem. Depression is hard enough to deal with without ignorant people making it tougher.
    On the subject of the media, I find this story to be one of the most important for years as it really does expose the incestuous nature of power and golden circles in this country. We all know who Kate worked for, who they advise, what boards they sit on and what radio shows they present – disgusting.
    Tom, your pursuit of justice for your daughter is beyond admirable. Do not give up this fight. The internet and all us geeky broadsheet posters are thumping our keyboards in support of you and Sally. Your fight has won the internet. Keep fighting for you daughter. We are with you. God bless and happy Christmas to all you family.
    Best wishes,
    zero
    (and the internet and the truth and everyone who is on your side)

  27. John Gallen

    I had a quick look at Alexa.com and DoubleClick to see Broadsheet’s user stats. A quick summary:
    - 64% of users are male.
    - It is the 107th most visited site in Ireland by Irish users.
    - 64% of users are from Ireland (7.4% are from South Korea – possibly due to the coverage of the death of Kim Jong il, followed by 5.4% from the US).
    - Most people are on “browsing from work”.
    - The majority of users are “under 35″.
    - The majority of users are “highly educated”.
    - Users are likely to be “childless”
    - Average time on the site per visit is between 6m43s (Alexa) and 8m40s (DoubleClick).
    - 35.3% of visits were by people coming directly from Facebook; 12.4% from ‘t.co’ (twitter, I think); and 11.3% from Google.ie
    - There are 43,000 users in Ireland or 64,000 world wide.

    And finally,

    - Traffic to the site is up 49% in the last month, up 71% over the last 3 months.

    So, the word is getting out…. I would think.

    I do hope that this is not perceived as an inappropriate post here. I was curious and I believe that this story has contributed to the spikes in users / viewers of this site.

    My best to Tom and Sally Ann this Christmas.
    John

  28. Fred

    Whatever one thinks about this, the Omerta from certain sections of the media have been quite sad.

    This is the sort of story that Matt Cooper would normally have been all over and, unless I’m mistaken, he hasn’t touched it. And it’s not that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to do a quick piece, say after the weekly motoring segment, when it would have been very convenient.

    1. ljr

      given that Anton savage fills in Matt Cooper regularly and has a weekly slot talking about cars on a Tuesday (I think) it is highly unlikely. Also he has his own show on Sunday (some business guff type show where economists talk nonsense). Also Ray Darcy wont cover it cos AS fills in for him whenever he goes on hols (even today they were making friendly references to him in relation to the Apprentice). The Herald wont cover it cos mammy writes here at least once a week. She also writes for the Examiner and turns up in the Indo and Times occasionally. TV3 have him on the Apprentice you’re fired (one of their most popular shows) so they hardly want his reputation sullied. Vincent Brown is a possibility (given the fun he had with TP over the Gay Mitchell campaign disaster). Personally I can’t see any of them giving it anything more than a cursory look.

      1. Mairead

        It seems that TCC have all the bases covered then with Dad Savage chairman of the RTE Authority.

        With The Eaminer, the Independent Group, RTE and Independent Radio covered, then the unfortunate parents of Kate Fitzgerald are not going to get any media coverage other than the social media.

        Have a listen to what Tom Fitzpatrick had to saw about changed attitudes to Kate after her hospitalisation (last 2 miniutes) http://tv3.ie/3player/show/184/43399/1/Ireland-AM

        What a country!

  29. robbie

    So funny in an awful way to read about the IT and a story that touches on workplace bullying… despite its right on attitude, bullying is rife in the IT, maybe that’s why they were so sensitive about this story….

    my best wishes to Kate’s parents and to anyone who has been bullied at work. don’t let the b**tards get you down

  30. Alcopop

    Journalists appear to be more interested in peddling “celebrity” tittle-tattle than doing their bit to ensure everyone is treated humanely where they go to earn a crust. Then they wonder why sales are in decline. They can thank Terry Prone for the latest nail in their coffin.

  31. YankeeDoodle

    I think getting the Irish Times to change their mind by sending letters and facebook posts is over. What I would like to see instead is people asking George Hook, Matt Cooper, Pat Kenny, Marc Coleman, Ryan Telltubby, The Irish Independent, Pat Rabbitt, Enda Kenny, Michael Martin, Gay Mitchell etc :

    1) Why are they not covering this story?
    2) Is it appropriate for PR company to have so much influence, through positions at Today FM and RTE, over braodcasting? and
    3) Do they believe defamation laws in Ireland should be changed so as to prevent issues like this again.

    1. Susan Lanigan

      I agree. I also think we need to exert all our collective willpower to bring the CC to its knees – and ensure that never again does one company or dynasty have such power over the government and fourth estate. I have updated my website with a call to action to Shun the Communications Clinic.

      They are a private company who relies on the market like every other private company. There is nothing illegal about letting their market know what sort of people they are dealing with. If these people are capitalists, let’s use capitalism to eradicate their influence and have them shut down for good.

    2. Mairead

      I, for one, have already sent e-mails to:

      1. Pat Rabbitte querying Tom Savage’s conflict of interest
      2. Enda Kenny querying his use of Terry Prone as a communications advisor

    3. Susan Lanigan

      Announcement from the IMSTA which I found out about when looking up something else. They have just engaged the Communications Clinic dated 21 Dec, so obviously they are unaware of what is going on.

      I have asked these guys via their contact form in the nicest and most heartfelt manner I can muster if there is any way they can see to changing their mind. Please feel free to join in, as that way I will feel like less of a crank :)

      http://www.imsta.ie/node/478

        1. Louis Lefronde

          :-D

          With a message like that you will always be welcome on iFronde.com where we have no hesitation in putting the boot in! (that is if you don’t mind a French onion in an Irish stew)

      1. Sylvia

        Well spotted Susan! I’ll email them next week. I admire your tenacity. I hope people continue to log their activities on this so others can follow suit.

      2. Susan Lanigan

        Just a quick update: I received a response from them saying they would mention the matter at their next board meeting. I’m hoping that’s before TCC address them on 12th January. I thanked them for their response.

  32. YankeeDoodle

    I would also like to send my best wishes to the Fitzgerald family. You are in my families thoughts and prayers over Christmas. To lose a child is a terrible thing, to have to deal with this level of BS only makes it harder. I hope those involved, be they newspaper editors, PR company directors, or simple tame housewives that wish they had some control over what RTE does and does not do, feel mighty proud to have done what they have done.

  33. ljr

    One small other point nobody has mentioned on this post yet – what a beautiful happy photo at the top of this post. You can see the love between the three people in the pic shining out. Looking at that beautiful girl and her happy proud parents made me incredibly sad but also strangely happy that there was once such good days in their lives. If you have not already clicked on it to see it full size I recommend you do it now.

    1. Erin

      Yes, what a beautiful photo. To think if Kate had become a teacher, for instance, instead and worked in a supportive enviroment, as opposed to a milieu full of self-important jerks, she might be alive today.

      A word of advice, whenever you’re applying for a job, research your prospective employer thoroughly, to make sure their ethos and your own are a match. Never succumb to the kind of fear-mongering being promoted by the MOPs troll (YKM) on yesterday’s thread.

  34. Laura

    It must me just so difficult. I have been through the sane thing and at least for me I was very young and don’t have much recollection of it. I wish you all such a beloved Christmas from Bantry

  35. ned

    through all this there has been one constant. The dignity and honesty from the Fitzgerald family. It blows me away. to what must be the hardest thing for a parent to have to do. Their strength astonishes me. I never knew Kate but if her parents are anything to to go by she must have been of an exceptional calibre. I believe that the world is worse off for not having her among us! My deepest sympathies for your loss and for the battle that you are now forced into.

  36. Iluvtallaghtbirdsespeciallyurma

    To the Fitzgerald family,

    I pray you cope over this Christmas period. There are many thinking of you. RIP Kate.

  37. Crouching dragon

    My heart lept.

    APOLOGY

    …it said under Corrections & Clarifications in The Irish Times. Ah at last. It’s not much to offer the Fitzgerards after all they’ve been through but better late than never, I thought.

    Until I read on.

    In our edition on Thursday January 20th, 2011 we published remarks concerning John Walker, William Power and Patrick Hill of the “Birmingham Six” who suffered a notorious miscarriage of justice at the hands of the British judicial system…

    Ok, but isn’t there another apology you should be getting on with? I see this referred to your edition of January 20th, 2011 so maybe in November 2012 you’ll get round to it.

    1. Niall

      Prone, Savage & Co. could have treated the topic with the appropriate degree of sensitivity, and given an undertaking not to sue, given the circumstances.

    1. Mass lover...

      Coincidentally, Bunny Carr was on Tubridy during the week (I’m not a masochist, someone told me he was on)…He managed to score a €150 Marks & Sparks voucher through a mixture of begging and flattery…Looks like his share of the €7.5million didn’t last long…

      It’s on Monday if you’re interested…
      http://www.rte.ie/radio1/podcast/podcast_tubridy.xml

  38. LocalBooks

    A Christmas Concert for Kate

    Presented by Sally Ann Fitzgerald and the West Cork School of Voice

    Recorded at: The Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff. 9-10 December 2011.

    All Proceeds to “Plan Ireland”, Kate’s Favourite Charity

    A Christmas Concert for Kate was performed on 10 December 2011 in honour of Kate Fitzgerald who died on 23 August 2011 at age 25. The concert includes more than fifty performers, all students at Sally Ann Fitzgerald’s West Cork School of Voice. The concert includes several emotional performances by Kate’s mother, soprano Sally Ann Fitzgerald, and one song by her father Tom Fitzgerald. Most of the performers are under 18 and the Frosties group are all under 11 years of age. The singers are all from the area around Bantry, in West Cork, Ireland. Comments from concert attendees include “one of the most emotional experiences of my life” and “this concert touched me on so many levels that it will take me days to process it” ; “it was a musical tribute to Kate’s life”. There is little doubt that this concert includes some stars of the future.

    To see a quick preview of A Christmas Concert for Kate, performed on 10 December 2011 in honour of Kate Fitzgerald please click on the link here http://youtu.be/H4MK454w09A

    DVDs are available for €10 from localbooks.ie
    All proceeds to go to Plan Ireland

  39. Dom

    I have a connection with the Times (a good friend works there) and she said the whole building has been devastated by the loss.
    I know it’entertaining to pretend the Times is some sort of heartless giant trying to squash the little people, but perhaps we could lay off the never ending insults considering the hurt that’s being felt there at the moment.

    1. Tabby

      Sorry Dom, I didn’t intend to insult anyone. I was genuinely interested in people’s views on how best to report suicide, or not. Are they grounds for going into the kind of detail contained in the Sunday Independent report? Was the Irish Times right in describing it as an unexpected death and leaving it at that?

      Apologies if you found my post offensive.

      1. Dom

        Tabby, my comment was not directed at you at all. It was a general comment about people using this issue to bash institutions rather than address the issue of suicide and depression.

  40. EBW

    Dear Tom,
    Sincere, condolences to you and your family.

    I’m responding as a journalist.

    The Irish Times refers to ‘potential legal hazard’, something to which I imagine they believed they exposed themselves when they published Peter Murtagh’s article. They have been dealing extraordinarily badly with the matter ever since they were given that advice.

    However, for readers and consumers of the media in Ireland it has been one of the most revealing episodes in our evolving understanding of what stories are run, or spiked, and by whom.

    It is likely, I suspect, that one of Kate’s lecturers at DCU was a former Irish Times journalist, himself the son of a deceased Irish Times news editor and brother in law of the present editor. I point this out only to demonstrate how small and inter-connected the media community is in Ireland.

    I believe that the crux of the present situation – the failings at the Irish Times and the silence from other media outlets – is as a result of verbal exchanges between people the gist of which has been to rubbish the claims of a woman who took her own life. All done ‘off the record’, of course.

    As media consumers we are left with vague inferences, particularly from the IT editor’s article. It more or less says, ‘fill in the gaps yourselves… the woman suffered from depression and killed herself, after all.’ An alternative inference might be, ‘we know the truth but are being too noble to print it’.

    In either case there is no way that one can detach the core issue – mental health and employment – from the manner in which the media is dealing with the aftermath of Kate’s susicide and the anonymous article she wrote in the Irish Times.

    I have to believe that any serious journalist or presenter – like Matt Cooper, or Ray Darcy (who does some work for AWARE) at Today FM – would not have asked Anton Savage what the background was to this story. I can only conclude, if they did ask, that they remain quiet about the story because of what they were told. Or perhaps they just do not want to know.

    Tom, for as long as you and your family maintain your position I will believe that there is a conspiracy of silence about your daughter’s legacy. A conspiracy which maintains the prejudices and barriers around mental health issues in Irish society.

    1. Mairead

      I have no doubt your analysis is correct. There has been an attempt to blacken Kate Fitzgerald’s reputation by allegations and innuendo about her which will never come into the public domain. That’s the way Ireland works.

      Any person suffering from illnesses such as depression would be silly to check into hospitals such as St. Patricks or St. John og God’s for treatment. When such a person’s employer finds out about the hospitalisation their previous reputation is gone forever.

      Unfortunately the IT for all its claims about supporting those with illnesses such as depression has colluded in this subtle bad mouthing of those who are ill with depression.

    2. Susan Lanigan

      “I have to believe that any serious journalist or presenter – like Matt Cooper, or Ray Darcy (who does some work for AWARE) at Today FM – would not have asked Anton Savage what the background was to this story. I can only conclude, if they did ask, that they remain quiet about the story because of what they were told. Or perhaps they just do not want to know.”

      EBW, this paragraph bothers me a lot. Because it’s perpetrating exactly the insinuation you are condemning, that somehow the fault in her employment troubles rested wholly or partially with Ms Fitzgerald and the way she behaved. That the silence of those vile PR people is wholly motivated by a desire to protect us against the truth of Ms Fitzgerald’s alleged behaviour. However on this point I am getting only insinuation, as opposed to overwhelming positive feedback from Ms Fitzgerald’s friends, who would surely have remained silent in those circumstances otherwise. I want to put it in on record that I believe Ms Fitzgerald’s testimony and have done from the start.

      And even if her work were affected momentarily by the pressures of fighting off a depressive condition, I would draw your attention to the account of another PR supremo – and in TCC’s words, “mentally ill” and “not to be trusted” man Alastair Campbell who is due to publish an ebook entitled “The Happy Depressive”.

      Whatever you might think about his legacy in government, one cannot deny his courage in speaking out.

  41. Louis Lefronde

    I have to say I have been quite vociferous in my criticism of the media in Ireland for quite some time. My belief, is that the Irish public are very poorly served. No doubt there are good journalists out there, but either they are being muzzled, or they are keeping their heads down – we (the customers) are not seeing quality pieces in print or broadcasting and have not seen it for a considerable period of time.

    What the media might not realize is that they are on to a loser, because word is spreading (and quickly) that the mainstream media has become so irrelevant and dumb, that you are better off going online to find the news rather than having it served up for you with all the nascent spin and ‘ a spokesman for the government says’ crap that passes for news. This type of cheap journalism is killing the media to the point that consumers are moving away – and quickly.

    As an informed citizen, I don’t buy into the sort of crap pedaled by the Communications Clinic or other PR companies. Yet I am amazed at how many lazy journalists, producers and indeed editors give these parasites the oxygen they need to survive. As a consequence I find myself shouting (quite frequently) at the radio (what a load of sh*t!) and turning off, same goes for the television and more or less the newspapers.Last year, I stopped buying the Irish Sunday papers because I found that they were appalling to say the least. I suspect, I am not alone in this regard and I further suspect that those in the rarified confines of Tara & Talbot street are starting to wake up to that fact. But here’s the problem, once the reader goes – it’s near on impossible to get them back!

  42. Mairead

    Because of the Kate Fitzgerald story I have stopped buying the Irish Times or looking at its on line version. I have also stopped looking at the Examiner’s on line version.

    Because of the serious conflict of interest between Tom Savage’s role as chairman of the RTE Authority and his role in the family company TCC I no longer listen to RTE programmes.

    And as for Anton Savage, the less said the better.

    Instead I use broadsheet.ie , thejournal.ie , breakingnews.ie , boards.ie, irisheconomy.ie for Irish news stories, and the non Irish media for business and non Irish news e.g. Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC, BBC.

    This enables me to stay well informed without the media that have deliberately bowed to pressure, both overt and covert , on the Kate Fitzgerald story.

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