the Irish for rights

Stop Press: Vincent Browne recants!

Vincent Browne, via the Sunday Business Post siteIn his column in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post, Vincent Browne (to coin a phrase, the éminence terrible of Irish journalism, pictured left) gives a guarded welcome to the Defamation Act, 2009, and pours cold water on the recent Supreme Court decision about journalist source privilege. But that’s all en passant to the main event, in which he recants his youthful enthusiasm for press freedom:

Media caught in headlights of official orthodoxy

Twenty-three years ago, I was an enthusiast for press freedom. … But, in the meantime, perversely, I have become a good deal less ardent about press freedom, and I have dropped the conceit about the press being the defenders of the weak against corporate, political and other centres of power.

I have come to believe that the media is the problem – or a large part of it – and not the solution. The media is a centre of corporate power, and it is inextricably tied into the other centres of corporate power. … press freedom … essentially … is freedom for the owners and/or controllers of the media and freedom to propagate an ideology that, basically, is destructive of the ordinary person, or at least their chances of being equal members of society, aside from a formal legalistic sense.

Ever the controversialist, since the views he espoused twenty-seven years ago are on the way to becoming more orthodox, the restless Browne now feels the need to move on. But, characteristically, he overstates his case. It is ironic that he is taking advantage of the very freedom he denounces to make his point. Indeed, I agree that he has a point about the corporate power of the big media outlets. However, proper – and actively enforced – regulation about cross-ownership and pluralism would go a long way to meeting his objections, without having to recant his youthful enthusiasm for an important democratic right – after all, for all its structural flaws, if the media cannot seek to hold the powerful to account to to make the kinds of points Browne himself does on a regular basis, who will?

2 Responses to “Stop Press: Vincent Browne recants!”

  1. Niall says:

    To be fair to Browne, he doesn’t claim that press freedom is something bad or that we should do away with it. Based on the above, he just seems to state that he is a lot less enthusiastic about it compared to how he was several years ago.

    The fact is that while a few personalities like Browne are given a voice in the media, they are placed in a safe little box. Look at Gene Kerrigan in the Sindo. Every week he writes a sensible article that usually seems to go against the paper’s line on an issue, but his impact is minimal because if some other journalist with similar opinions applied for a job at the Sindo, they’d be turned down because Kerrigan already fills the roll of token lefty while if some bright young thing who happens to agree with Eoghan Harris or Brendan O’Connor comes along, they’re going to be welcomed as a fresh new voice by editorial.

  2. I’m not quite sure what to make of Browe’s latest column. On the one hand, he’s complaining that too few alternative voices are allowed in the Irish media market. Yet he himself has in his time edited published a national newspaper, Magill magazine, and latterly Village.

    Is his complaint that alternative voices are excluded, or that there isn’t a market for them and they’re losing the argument?

Leave a Reply



Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I'm Eoin O'Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie - the Irish for rights.

"Cearta" really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

Academic links


  • RSS Feed
  • RSS Feed
  • Subscribe via Email
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Archives by month

Categories by topic

My recent tweets

Blogroll (or, really, a non-blogroll)

What I'd like for here is a simple widget that takes the list of feeds from my existing RSS reader and displays it here as a blogroll. Nothing fancy. I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

I had built a blogroll here on my Google Reader RSS subscriptions. Google Reader produced a line of html for each RSS subscription category, each of which I pasted here. So I had a list of my subscriptions as my blogroll, organised by category, which updated whenever I edited Google Reader. Easy peasy. However, with the sad and unnecessary demise of that product, so also went this blogroll. Please take a moment to mourn Google Reader. If there's an RSS reader which provides a line of html for the list of subscriptions, or for each RSS subscription category as Google Reader did, I'd happily use that. So, as I've already begged, I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

Meanwhile, please bear with me until I find a new RSS+Blogroll solution




Creative Commons License

This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. I am happy for you to reuse and adapt my content, provided that you attribute it to me, and do not use it commercially. Thanks. Eoin

Credit where it’s due

The image in the banner above is a detail from a photograph of the front of Trinity College Dublin night taken by Melanie May.

Others whose technical advice and help have proven invaluable in keeping this show on the road include Dermot Frost, Karlin Lillington, Daithí Mac Síthigh, and Antoin Ó Lachtnáin.

Thanks to Blacknight for hosting.