Who Let Grandpa On The Internet?


Conor Brady, former editor of The Irish Times, takes his turn wielding the sword of justice on behalf of Old Media.

Politicians like Quinn and Rabbitte are long enough on the road to recognise what is happening. They know that whatever flaws there may be in traditional news media, they discharge an essential function – and it is not yet clear that the new media can or will adequately replicate it.


To which Ewok likes to say, from underneath his hoodie: “They could hardly do any worse, bro.”

Future Must Be Secured For Serious News Media (Conor Brady, Irish Times)

Previously: New Technology Baffles Peeved Old Liberal

72 thoughts on “Who Let Grandpa On The Internet?

  1. Paul Moloney

    I bet this man has never once ridden a fixie, bought an ironic T-shirt or eaten in CrackBird. UP YOURS GRANDAD, GO EAT YOUR PRUNES.


  2. ljr

    scoff at print media all ye want but there is hardly a blogger out there that would even hesitate for a second before taking up an offer of a job in print journalism (and actually get paid for their rantings).

    1. paul m

      so you’re saying the broadsheet boys and girls would jump at the chance to go work in print media?

      there are tons of blogs out there run as hobby as an aside to the persons day job and often act as a cathartic release to that said job (sometimes the humour, stories and how-to’s are a spin off from that). Some have managed to generate ad revenue from their blogs. The benefits of not having to hit an early print deadline, or being unable to instantly update a story as well as being at the whim of some dinosaur of an editor who’s more interested in keeping their job by appeasing the boards taste in journalism than nailing the story really sells it.

      yes the grass does sound greener in print.

    2. well

      ive heard this argument before, whenever a company does something controversial, i recall someone posting here that given the chance we would turncoat if offered a job at the communications clinic.

      its just the bedgrudgery insult sugar coated

  3. Ed

    Don’t see anything wrong with what he said. Can anyone really say we wouldn’t miss professional print media, especially papers with some standards like the IT, if they disappeared? What would Broadsheet link to?

    1. Steo

      Why does it have to be one or the other? When Radio came along, there was still room for print. When TV came along, there was still room for print and radio. Stop whining about it and do it better than the websites, Print Media.

    2. DaithiO

      I agree totally, Ed. Let’s see how the majority of sites function if the original news institutions just disappear.

      1. Caroline


        I don’t want to have to choose between the two. Why shouldn’t the print media address the issue of new media, even from their admittedly wrinkly perspective? Why does the reaction have to be to slam the bedroom door like a narky teenager?

        What new media still frequently does best is cream off the sexy stuff. It allows those with a passionate but narrow interest to provide vertiginous depth to an issue that print media can rarely match. Print media means someone breathing down your neck until you get those regional nibs done. No wonder they’re jealous.

    3. jib

      “Can anyone really say we wouldn’t miss professional print media”, absolute rubbish there Ed.Quality news will always be around.Professional by who’s standards exactly?.If people choose to read shite news or epherma then thats their choice.You can’t force people to buy the IT.As for broadsheet well,websites come and go,this website’s future cannot be secured no more than ‘ serious media’

  4. Mass lover...

    Sweet sufferin’ flip…where do you start…

    Where is all this kite-flying going? Are we heading for full state control of what we can access on the internet or what?

    “…politics.ie is a valuable and intelligent forum for discussion of important public issues…”
    Has he ever actually visited Politics.ie? It’s a troll-fest. The few decent balanced posters are swamped by assholes of every persuasion…

    1. Continuity Jay-Z

      I always though it was a sandbox for Indymedia loons to rant at the normals. Who’d have thunk it was such an august electronic medium for political discourse.

      Having said all that it does keep the politicians on a shorter leash than they previously had.

      1. Mass lover...

        Your last point is valid alright. It’s like a septic tank: It serves a purpose, but I wouldn’t want to spend too much time examining its contents…

      2. Paddy M

        I always though it was a sandbox for Indymedia loons to rant at the normals. Who’d have thunk it was such an august electronic medium for political discourse.

        Not that many of the Indymedia types – I think most of them decamped to other boards – but more a mixture of straightforward slash-and-burners, Ron Paul worshippers, conspiracy theorists, religious fanatics, anti-religious fanatics and Fine Gael sockpuppets. Yes, there are occasional points of sanity and reason but you have to be prepared to look hard.

  5. Steo

    Mr. Editor (ret.) ought to mind himself: Old Media haven’t exactly been checking their facts or properly researching things lately (see, various). Not to mention their willingness to bow down to the wealthy, the loud, and the powerful (see, various). At the risk of painting myself as a meme, Internet news purveyor upset at establishment’s opinion on stuff.

    1. Anon

      The amount of syndicated content in newspapers, they’re news aggregators as much as most of the websites. Also there are far too many articles that are only marginally better than press releases, parrotting assumptions about the beleaguered music industry for example or only managing to scrape the surface of the latest dumb idea from our politicians rarely pointing out the inconsistencies or broken promises. Somehow I doubt the Irish Times will follow this series of articles with a story about their own failings and the failings of other newspapers that left things so open for the internet to do it cheaper and crappier.

  6. Continuity Jay-Z

    I think the elephant in the room for a lot of these ‘traditional’ journalists is that their factually innaccurtate (lies) stories can be disproven almost as soon as they are read. the general public, thanks to twitter and the countless other online resources, can now disseminate the poorly researched, ill informed tripe that is being passed off as journalism.

    Two very high-profile examples of this are the Caolan Mulrooney story and the Magda incedent. Neither of those were ’caused’ by new media but rather the bullshit and lies were ‘caught’ by new media.

    An exercise for any of you would be to get a National library reading card that allows you access to the Microfiche and go back thorugh your local newspapers from the 60’s and 70’s. Look at the quality of reportage in those papers from journalists who would have been from the lower echelons of the trade and compare them to those who are feted nationally today. One thing I note with regularity is that 21st centruy journalists are incapable of not injecting themselves into the story.

    1. DaithiO

      Agree in terms of new media catching erroneous stories like that and think it’s great.

      Could balance your argument to cite some print journalists who’s work happened to be integral to the outing of serious wrongs in public, political life.

      Land rezoning in the 90’s for example?

      1. Continuity Jay-Z

        Point taken but I think on an island so interconnected and small such as Ireland there is a paucity of stories broken. It feels like they are only broken when the upper echelons say to break it.

        There is a lot of stuff out there that is ‘the talk of the town’ but yet are never given any investigation.

        I’m aware that much of it may be malicious, scurrilous ribald but some is not. I think great journalism should be about rooting out the fact and highlighting it. I don’t think this happens near enough.

        Our print media (in particular) is great at toeing the party line and that among other things is killing it. Other problems are massively overpaid journalists who are only too happy to swan around at the FG and FF Christmas parties and enjoy the largesse of countless corporate entites at their soirees. You stop being a journalist and start being a shill when this happens.

        1. DaithiO

          Granted, the frustrating thing about news values are that they tend not to always reflect the public curiosity. Still, I think the culture of overpaid journalists is very much in the minority. Flick through the Times or the Independent and I’d wager that 30% are staff and the rest are freelance.
          Also, were we to get all our news from politics.ie or broadsheet we’d be seriously narrowed in terms of what we’d be getting as it takes a relatively large media enterprise to pay for foreign reporters or to fund a serious media investigation into corruption, large-scale crime etc.

          1. MysteryMeat

            Right, but newpapers in Ireland and increasingly in larger countries don’t keep an overseas corp of reporters. They rely on AP, PA, Reuters, etc to feed them all the same story, with whatever editorial slant these agencies take.

    2. RainyDay

      A foundation of these gripes against ‘new media’ is that the regular pleb on the street can now fact check the stories in the print media and proliferate and findings of inaccuracy through the internet. They don’t like this, us mere mortals should read what they write and accept it.
      LOL Luddites LOL

    3. cionn

      exactly. It seems that in the last 2 weeks there has been about 4 articles a day about controling the internet and it is purely because the old media have found themselves accountable, and they dont like that. This article reads like ‘weh weh weh, we have to tell the truth and we dont have time because 300k is too little money’

    4. SDaedalus

      Continuity Jay-Z

      I couldn’t agree more with this, and you don’t even need a National Library reading card, just access to the Irish Times and Indo archives. There was some total crap there too in the 80s and 90s, but the dross to gold ratio was much lower than today.

      Journalism – and I include Irish Times journalism in this – has become about the journalist rather than the story and this is not only lazy but dangerous because it destroys objectivity.

    1. whattheF

      its looking that way. Sales must have drastically dropped for them to be on a continued offensive with the last week.

  7. Dave, Dublin

    These begging letters from the IT to Pat Rabbitte are getting a little desperate. No, you’re not getting a share of the broadcasting levy.

    I like how he describes journal.ie as a “public notice board” instead of a news site. Bitchy.

    1. paul m

      journal.ie may have started out as a news site but its more renowned now for its say-what-you-see comment threads. on occasion its become a bulletin board for the clinically insane.

  8. Jockstrap

    “David Cochrane’s politics.ie is a valuable and intelligent forum for discussion of important public issues”

    Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha. My hole it is.

  9. 30/30

    For all that I love about new media, I have never encountered a blogger, a Journal writer, a Newswhip or Storyful contributor or a P.ie poster at a meeting of a local council, a policing forum, an economic SDZ, a community event, a local sports game, a small scale protest or a TD’s constituency office.

    I have, however, had my stories from these events shamelessly picked off by them.

    So, there is some truth in some of what the man says.

    1. MysteryMeat

      Yes you have, assuming you have looked around at the public gallery, or at the guy asking the question that doesn’t have a NUJ card stuck in the side of his trilby.

      1. Continuity Jay-Z

        A lot of the time the contributors are the commentators, albeit reporting, after the fact, incognito.

      2. 30/30

        Well, most of the time a dead give away would be a recorder, a notepad or a presence in the area where the press are.

        The vast majority of these sites are not run by caped crusaders asking the questions us journos are afraid to.

        They regurgitate content.

        That’s not to say that print media has to survive, but I truly believe journalism, for all it’s flaws, has to.

        Imagine a world where The Journal was the website of record. Where would it get it’s stories in the first place?

        1. Steo

          I think we need to draw a line between Reporting and Opining. Increasingly that line is being blurred and that’s what’s most disconcerting about the response from “Old Media” to “New Media”. Instead of doing a better job at reporting and analysing — and thereby earning our Shekel — the Old Media just chastise the New Media for regurgitating content or armchair commentary while at the same time, scrambling to agree content arrangements with bloggers and online commentators. They’re decrying the lowest common denominator whilst trying desperately to appeal to him/her. You can’t have it both ways.

          1. 30/30

            A policing forum is a meeting between community Gardai and local community groups.

            What those quotes come from is a press conference.

        1. Sinead

          Hey all,

          Just spotted this.

          I’m the journalist that wrote the piece and, to clarify, I was at the press conference in Tallaght Garda Station yesterday.

          Ted – we’re based in Dublin so it didn’t take too long to travel to it. I’ll take your assumption as a compliment so :)

  10. John Gallen

    A bit too much of the journo bashing going on here. There are plenty of faceless grafters in professional journalism without which much news would ever be discovered or uncovered.

    But to look at the comments above makes me think there’s a troll-féte under Broadsheet bridge!

    I do agree with @ljr @DaithiO @Ed and @Steo… and some of Jay-Z’s points :)

  11. Rebecca

    “David Cochrane’s politics.ie is a valuable and intelligent forum for discussion of important public issues.”

    Interesting to recall Corchrane robustly defending the IT during the Kate saga.

        1. Jazzlyn

          I stopped reading Politics.ie after the way they treated the IT/Communication Clinic with kid gloves, deleting threads, tip toeing around it. Pathetic in the extreme.

  12. Continuity Jay-Z

    A further point I’d like to make and I am open to challenge on this; I have always seen newspapers (in particular) as a public service. I see the news and the provision of it as a service rendered to the public for a minor fee. Now I believe like any public service standards must be adhered to.
    I think in the last ten years newspapers standards have gone through the floor. I see the drop occur concurrently with the changes in ownership in the papers. I believe that papers have lost huge degrees of autonomy in how they report stories. I believe that traditional news media is compromised to the point of irrelevance.

    One of the only ways I can see the art of journalism being returned to the pedestal (I certainly had it on) would be for journalists to leave the comfort of the well paid corporate Pravdas and form their own newspapers, be they on line or in print. Uncompromising, hard hitting, truthful, factual journalism is always welcome in any society as is those who purvey it. Corporate apparatchiks and agenda mules are not. We need less ‘social commentators’ and more factualists who will report only the verifiable unexpurgated truth.

    This aspiration may be ridiculous and unrealistic but it is how I feel as a previous avid reader of the paper since I was 11 years old. I have not bought an Irish paper in nigh on three years and have no intention of doing so again. The reason being is not, wholly, that they are free on line, though I avail of them but they are simply not worth the investment such is the paucity of balanced, unbiased, agenda-free writing. I could write a list of twenty journalists here, who should not be ‘celebrities’ but yet are. That is wrong.

    Nobody should have to do their job for free, they are entitled to compensation for their labour but they should earn that compensation. I don’t feel enough journalists earn the price of their paper.

    1. SDaedalus

      I think all your comments on this are absolutely spot on and I would add that are good print & broadcast journalists out there – it is just that their work gets swamped in all the crap.

      What the internet is doing at the moment is showing up how bad mainstream journalism is in general and instead of slagging off the internet mainstream journalism should be taking this on board and saying what can we do to change. It’s not a question of – we need more money – a whole change of attitude and a return to the story rather than the person writing it, disclosure of interests etc. is required.

  13. SDaedalus

    They’re really not getting it, are they?

    Referencing another IT journalist’s blog as an example of good internet journalism, whether justified or not, says it all about the nauseating smugness, self-satisfaction and cronyism that makes it so difficult for anyone to take mainstream journalism in this country seriously. Not to mention the statement ‘like all generalisations, it has some truth in it’, so stupid a generalisation itself that one wonders if the person who wrote it was firing on all cylinders at the time.

    The best defence that the mainstream media could put up (and I say this as someone who used to love print journalism – when it still deserved that name) would be to quit the self-congratulation, start looking at things objectively rather than through the prism of their own small self-reinforcing circle and start writing things worth people’s while paying to read.

  14. SDaedalus

    Sorry, the quote above was not exact – the brain-dead statement was in fact ‘like most generalisations, there is some accuracy in it’.

    Still think it’s dangerously lazy use of one’s brain though.

  15. Tom Red

    In the reading that I’ve done on media, there’s a view that newspapers recycle press reports sent out from PR companies and media companies as well as government agencies. Investigative journalism has declined a lot due to increased deadlines and the need for breaking stories and sensationalism.

    Whats to stop the media/PR/government agencies simply releasing these press releases to a number of online sites instead. They may not get the slant the want but “old media” are not as valuable as they seem to think they are.

    Suck it up fellas, you all revelled in the glory days and now it’s over.

    No one gives up power or status without kicking and screaming and this seems a good example of it.

    1. General Waste

      ‘there’s a view that newspapers recycle press reports sent out from PR companies and media companies as well as government agencies.’

      It’s not a view, Nick Davies commissioned research from Cardiff University for his brilliant book Flat Earth News – the actual figure was around 80%.

      As for the IT and old media, at the height of the boom all of them refused to resource their online presence and instead ‘invested’ in the likes of MyHome.ie and are now bleating about new media and RTE.ie. You reap what you (fail to) sow.

  16. SDaedalus

    And I see Mark Little was not in fact with the Irish Times. Sigh. Apologies. But again, it’s significant that he is part of the mainstream media community. It seems that the mainstream media is quite happy with internet comment so long as it comes from themselves, and people they know and approve of, but don’t like civilians generally getting stuck in.

  17. whattheF

    I think Ruari Quinn is still angry that new media was able to bring up the video of him signing that pledge to the students at the general election. That would have never happened in old media where they would have been told to not bring that up ever again. The politicians want control. They lose it when it comes to instant and widespread methods used by new media.

    1. Steo

      See, I realise that the NY Times has loads and loads of resources at their disposal that the IT does not have. But their website is fantastic and they do great reporting and balanced opinions. And it is for that reason that I subscribe. And when the Guardian inevitably goes that way, I will probably subscribe to that as well. Good service deserves to be rewarded. The IT does not give us that, not even close. Sell us a better product and we will buy it.

      1. Continuity Jay-Z

        Bingo! If our papers were holding people to account and only publishing the full article in their print edition I think people would buy it. The fact is that there is too much of the likes of Brendan (The smart, ballsy guys are buying up property right now) O’Connor holding court on our front pages and people are tired and jaded of others opinions.

        I want to read about the FACTS behind Anglo. I want our journalists to present the TRUTH about NAMA and Fianna Fail and every other f**ked up incident that occurred in this country. No more opinion or conjecture or hyperbolic rantings of aged loons who’ve been conferred with some sort of cack-handed, social omni-cognisance in their dotage. If Journalists start doing that, start asking the hard questions I can guarantee you faith will be restored in their trade and with faith will come money. The question they have to answer for themselves is who pays better; the general public, two euro at a time or the corporate tycoons with vested interests.

  18. Tit Bonhomme (Is it too soon?)

    Shilling for storyful? Obviously it’s on its last legs then. Back to RTE for Mark Little so. Oh, he never left.

  19. Sassy

    The Irish Times needs to take a long hard look at itself instead of lashing out at new media. Any newspaper that culled Mary Raftery and embraced Sarah Carey doesn’t deserve to survive.

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