As for the current investigation, I remain baffled as to how INM [Independent News and Media] remained in ignorance of the editor’s decision to publish.
The day before publication, Mike O’Kane [Irish Daily Star editor] gave a radio interview in which he announced his intentions. After publication and the subsequent row, the paper’s former editor, Ger Colleran – now managing director of the INM company that runs the paper, and therefore O’Kane’s immediate boss – trenchantly defended the decision to publish. Did O’Kane really keep him in the dark?
Whatever the case, INM’s management was clearly ineffective, and it is that factor that has surely influenced Desmond.”
Dearbhail McDonald (top left), legal affairs editor of the Irish Independent, and Brenda Power (top right), columnist with the Irish Daily Mail and Sunday Times, and presenter of the RTE Radio One’s The Media Show, were on Frontline last night with Pat Kenny.
They discussed the fallout of the Irish Daily Star re-printing images of a topless Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. The Irish Independent is a sister paper of the Irish Daily Star.
Pat was in rare form.
Pat Kenny: “Brenda, first of all, to publish or not to publish. If you were in the editor’s chair what would you have done?”
Brenda Power: ”Well, personally, I probably wouldn’t have published those pictures, Pat, because I think they’re tasteless and I think they’re unpleasant. And, from a female point of view, it’s embarrassing and you can see it’s embarrassing for a young woman to have those photographs published. However, I would defend to the death Michael O’Kane’s right to publish them, without a threat of redundancy and closure hanging over this newspaper tonight.”
Kenny: ”You say ‘publish anyway, irrespective of taste and decency’, is that it?”
Power: ”No, but I mean I prefer an editor who was thought, who gave some thought to what his readers wanted, to what his audience wanted, to the sort of products that he was producing, which is a tabloid, than one who is looking over his shoulder to be aware of what his rich proprietor wanted for his agenda, to suit his agenda. And that seems to be the rock that Mick O’Kane [Irish Daily Star editor, now suspended] has perished on. He didn’t do that.”
Kenny: ”Now Dearbhail, you’re not going to speak on behalf of Independent News and Media at all.”
Dearbhail McDonald: ”Well I think the Independent News and Media has had its say. It had its say in an editorial in the Irish Independent on Saturday, the paper which I write for. And it had its say this evening, when it decided, along with the other joint shareholder, Northern and Shell, to suspend Michael O’Kane, pending a full inquiry. So INM has had its say. For my own part, as a female, as a journalist who believes that there are stories that require breaches of privacy, sometimes gross invasions of privacy, to justify stories. And I say it as someone, you know, who has an ordinary view on it. I think the decision to publish those pictures was wrong. Had I been in the editor’s hot seat, I wouldn’t have published them. I think they breached good taste, decency. And I think they also breached the privacy of that young couple. Separate though, what we’re dealing with, there are two separate issues. One is the decision to publish. The second is the separate, but related, issue of Richard Desmond, a man who has made millions out of such worthy tomes as Horny Housewives, Asian Babes, and whatever else you’re having. What we’re dealing now with is an Irish newspaper and now with Alan Shatter’s absolute outrageous suggestion that he would bring in a Privacy Law on the back of this incident. What we’re now seeing is an Irish paper, in the Irish media industry, possibly becoming collateral damage just because Richard Desmond is protecting his commercial interests. Because this is what, this is the important context. You’re dealing with a post-Leveson landscape in the UK. And you’re also dealing with the fact that his Express newspapers, the core, the key, the jewel in the crown of that, is the Daily Express which is a pro-Royalist, pro-Monarchist newspaper. And I think it would be grossly amiss of any Government, and this is why I don’t believe that Alan Shatter’s views should be tolerated this evening. To allow Irish privacy laws to be determined by the British monarch.”
Kenny: “Come to that in a moment. But the newspapers own code of practice, actually I think it’s 5.5, says that you should not intrude on people in a private space without their express permission, expect where it is in the public interest to do so. So a drug dealer, a paedophile, maybe there are cases where you can make. For a young couple on holiday, there is no case that can be made. Or is there, Brenda?”
Power: ”Well, the case that Mick O’Kane made originally was that if a paparazzo could zone in on the future queen of England, then maybe a sniper could do. Very volatile times in the Middle East as we know. The Libyan, or the American ambassador to Libya was assassinated last week and that row over that stupid film has spread to the diplomatic missions for the British and the French.”
McDonald: ”So let’s show her breasts in full glory just to prove a point, Brenda?
Power: “No, hang on a second, I know people get annoyed when you make this argument but there are some terms and conditions that come with the role she has. And there is nowhere on earth, and that woman should know it by now, that she can strip down to her knickers in public. She was within full view of a public road, in view of a public road…”
Fears have deepened in Dublin that up to 100 jobs could be lost at the Irish Daily Star, with unions predicting the media owner Richard Desmond would stand by his threat to “close down” the joint venture over the Duchess of Cambridge pictures scandal.
The head of the National Union of Journalists in Ireland who spoke with Irish Daily Star staff on Sunday told the Guardian there was “fear, panic and anger” in its Dublin newsroom.
The union’s Irish secretary Séamus Dooley branded the decision “a callous and crude attempt by Northern and Shell to protect their UK commercial interests with no regard for the livelihood of 80 Irish workers”.
Michelle Stanistreet added: “There is no justification for putting the livelihood of workers at the Irish Daily Star in jeopardy because of disagreement over an editorial decision of this nature.
“Editorial management of the newspaper rests with the editorial team in Dublin and it is difficult to see why the UK shareholder has chosen this issue as the grounds for withdrawing from a long-standing contract. The Irish Daily Star is a successful newspaper and any threat to the survival of the title is a threat to editorial diversity.”
Previously: The Closer?
Publisher Richard Desmond says he will cut ties with the Irish Daily Star after it printed topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge. The newspaper – joint-published by Mr Desmond’s Northern and Shell group – printed several photographs of the Duchess sunbathing while on holiday.
The pictures appeared on pages six and seven of Saturday’s edition.
Daily Star Sunday editor Gareth Morgan told Sky News: “We’re absolutely horrified here in the office, and as a company. This has no merit as an editorial decision, it has no merit morally, it’s frankly a horrible decision.”
Desmond is convinced he has the power to shut down the whole operation, given that he owns the British title. Insiders believe he has already instructed lawyers to begin the necessary legal action to terminate publication. Its website remained down on Saturday evening. Desmond’s company, Northern & Shell, co-owns the Irish Daily Star with the Dublin-based Independent News & Media (INM).
A spokesperson for Independent News and Media, the co-owner of the Irish Daily Star, has said “it was regrettable and in poor taste”, that the newspaper published the pictures.He said that “Independent News and Media had no prior knowledge of the decision to publish” the pictures.
Irish Daily star editor Michael O’ Kane defended the publication.
“I did this as a service to our readers, I’m a little taken aback by the reaction in the UK,” Mr O’Kane told the BBC earlier today.
“It only seems to be an issue in the UK because she is your future queen. But from our point of view in Ireland, Kate Middleton is just another of the fantastic line of celebrities.”
He scored a breakthrough in 1983 by persuading Bob Guccione to award him the licence to publish Penthouse magazine in Britain. Desmond persuaded Menzies and WH Smith to sell his expanding range of magazines. Overnight, he became one of Britain’s biggest porn publishers and the provider of hugely profitable sex chatlines.
Pic via Kevin Purcell