The Fifth Estate


Frilly Keane writes:

For years I’d heard of a thing called the 4th Estate, usually on the telly and in fillums like, where its mention would be treated like it was a sacred place, and only occupied by greats and gods with things like Peabody and Pulitzer in their bios.

The special people that get books written about them and Hollywood greenlights over their biopics. People who we know immediately just by their surnames; Amanpour, Adie, Bernstein, Cronkite, Fisk, Guerin, Murrow, Pilger, Woodward, and whatever ye’re having yerselves – see that? in abc order. Here’s anudder one; The Post.

This 4th Estate sort’a intrigued me in a vague way but lately it got a bit under my skin because of this latest module in the Disclosures Tribunal

Anyway, during the hot spell there, while trying to look busy when I was dossing off, I started googling scantily on the phone.

And as it turns out this 4th Estate is quite interesting, historically I mean, in that it has a bitta’ve tale to tell for itself.

European, naturally, in origin, and grew as a spur off a set up titled “Estates of the Realm”; basically, a caste system for Western Europe. Church, Royalty and the likes of meself, the Commoners. Them and Us.

And to keep everyone in their rightful Realm, lawyers were needed, so along came the 3rd Estate to facilitate the independent liaison between us and them. Naturally Lawyers need money and we know how that goes, and it was the same in Medieval times as it is today.

So along comes Edmund Burke, who during a debate (1787) about opening the Commons to the newspapers and journals of the day, addressed the new arrivals to the viewing galleries as the 4th Estate.

A hundred years later, pretty much, that Burke 4th Estate was now firmly rooted as the Realm of Journalists. This is proofed when the great observer himself, Oscar Wilde, stamped their permanent occupation of the 4th Estate with;

“But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism.”

One of our own said that 127 years ago. And instead of Us, the Commoners, it was the other two realms, Church and by now Big Business, Money and Power lured the 4th and bought them, bribed them, pampered them and fattened them.

So here we all are now, along with Broadsheet, discovering, planting and growing, what has easily become the 5th Estate. But here everyone can walk talk, or not, with the same swagger and access as anyone else who holds membership of another realm.

Here in the 5th the realms are one and the same; the older realms and their acquisition, the 4th, can be identified by their behaviour since this is the open ground and there is nowhere to hide. We are all occupants, blue tick or not, of this feral yet democratic open free-for-all 5th Estate.

It is the survival of the fittest, yet the minority and weaker get to leave their prints and say we were here and this was our story.

Here We are not polarised by the other Realms, because the internet cannot isolate itself into any corner, singular side or argument. Here, although the other Realms and particularly the former Grand 4th Estate will still try and choose our facts for Us, it is here in this 5th Estate, that

We, the forgotten realm of commoners get to choose the facts we believe. Here We get to decide what news we believe. It is here that our decisions will now be take place and our opinions formed.

The most vulnerable thing in Ireland now is our democracy. That is not an overstatement or a wild call-to-arms.

Nothing is more important to us Citizens, yeah, Citizens. Citizens Vote, customers take surveys and give feedback, so that’s that one out of the way, but why the fúck anyone needed reminding I’ll put down to the heat.

I’ve said here again and again , yet ye still wait to hear it from a mainstream veering or need to see the limps from mainstream tagging in. Giving out the wrong information, or even none at all, does not allow the Irish Citizen to make good decisions about its future.

In that 127 years since Wilde declared We are dominated by Journalism, that Blind Eye, that Bias, that Special Interests and their Influence, have put Kerry Babies, Mother and Baby Homes, Institutional Abuse, Institutional Failures, Endemic Corruption, Bail-Outs and Gombeenism into our History and National Profile.

And the bodies left in the carnage are not just in septic tanks waiting for Us to demand the truth and remedy the failures. We still do not own the majority of our schools or our Hospitals ffs.

The former 4th Estate needs to allow itself be burned into ruins so that it can only be re-built from new foundations.

To protect its Independence into the future and keep it free from Influence it needs to establish walls and safeguards so deep that it can never be bought and compromised again, and like here in the 5th, only the fittest will be allowed survive there.  It needs to prove itself.

It needs to reclaim the vocation of Journalism, while the other Realms, including the 5th btw, need to let it rebuild and repent. We need to let it make good. Let them prove they have replaced smear campaigns and self Interest by giving us all the facts.

Let the 4th Estate come back and prove they are capable of being that intermediary between the realms.

There is nothing more important to our Country than a well-informed Citizen. So let’s future proof the gaff.

Frilly Keane’s column usually appears here on the first Friday of every month. Follow Frilly on Twitter: @frillykeane

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15 thoughts on “The Fifth Estate

  1. Ina.

    I can’t ever remember a time when Irish newspapers were good. The best journalism tended to come not from the newspapers, but from fringe elements, Magill, Phoenix Magazine, the Centre for Public Inquiry, and now Village. But the Irish Times and Independent never did any serious investigative journalism.

      1. The Old Boy

        True, although I am reminded of a supposed defence to a libel case against the Trib before it folded:

        “Even if it were libelous, my Lord, it was in the Sunday Tribune so no-one actually saw it.”

    1. Airey Naïve

      The Phoneix never exposes anything of import. It’s FF Mulcahy FFS.

      And the Irish Times? Certain journalists there have an agreement with the editor that the Letters Page be declared for then “a safe space” and they must not be criticised there, so no publication of letters about their pronouncements in the op-ed pages…

      Independent is a joke.

    2. D

      The Business section of the Irish Times, the Sunday Business Post and on a rare occasion the Examiner are passble. Gene Kerrigan is the best of what’s going in The Irish Dependent.

      The best articles in the Business section of the Irish Times are always in the back, with no journalists name given. Usually to protect sources. I haven’t got any examples to hand, but keep an eye out. Inside scroops on wheelings and dodgy dealings in the IFSC.

    1. Jasper

      Interesting. Do go on. Was that a Freudian slip? In reverse, perhaps?

      I think I understand the point the author is making.

      Fake news. Or ‘Fake news’?

    2. spudnick

      Yes. She might as well have replaced the whole sprawl of pirate-speak with simpler “fake, fake, disgusting news” and “Even these people back there, these horrible, horrendous people” quotes from himself yesterday.

    3. Frilly Keane

      I have no clue
      n’ that’s saying sum’ting
      Of what ye’re on about

      New login there Rotide yeah?

  2. scottser

    It says here that the Unions will never learn
    It says here that the economy is on the upturn
    And it says here we should be proud
    That we are free
    And our free press reflects our democracy

    Those braying voices on the right of the House
    Are echoed down the Street of Shame
    Where politics mix with bingo and tits
    In a strictly money and numbers game
    Where they offer you a feature
    On stockings and suspenders
    Next to a call for stiffer penalties for sex offenders

    It says here that this year’s prince is born
    It says here do you ever wish
    That you were better informed
    And it says here that we can only stop the rot
    With a large dose of Law and Order
    And a touch of the short sharp shock

    If this does not reflect your view you should understand
    That those who own the papers also own this land
    And they’d rather you believe
    In Coronation Street capers
    In the war of circulation, it sells newspapers
    Could it be an infringement
    Of the freedom of the press
    To print pictures of women in states of undress

    When you wake up to the fact
    That your paper is Tory
    Just remember, there are two sides to every story
    Billy Bragg

  3. Airey Naïve

    Good article, and I agree that the media is deeply flawed. But what’s to replace it?

    Journalism is NOT a vocation. It’s a job, a cash flow, hiding behind lofty principles. A bit like hospital consultants hiding behind the hypocratic oath as they screw the system for their next Porsche. Journalists going on about confidential sources, sanctity of facts … utter bloody comedy.

    The list of media failures in Ireland is so long we’d be making the tribunal reports on here look short, but you can include: gentrification, tech company influence on the government and state policy, a racist referendum on children’s citizenship, the protection of the old at the expense of the young, and an end to celebrity culture journalism and calling out Facebook, The Journal, the Sindo, the RTE Canteen Culture and the rest for what they are and what they’ve done.

  4. johnny

    Thanks Frilly provocative piece,the business model is fatally flawed, so unless its a trust type situation or a billionaire,print is finished as a viable business.

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