Ireland top of Press Freedom table

How we see ourselves, and how others see us, don’t always correspond. Our usual view of the state of press freedom in Ireland is pessimistic. But Reporters Without Borders rank Ireland top of their Worldside Press Freedom Index 2006, equal first with Finland, Iceland and the Netherlands. Bottom are North Korea, Turkmenistan and Eritrea. Christine Newman reports on the Index in today’s Irish Times, and it makes it onto other blogs such as Finfacts and Wynner’s Blog, but I have been unable to find any official reaction. Perhaps this is becuase of a certain satisfaction, if not surprise, at our ranking. But we should not feel too smug or sit on our laurels. There is much still to do, not least the long delayed defamation reform. If that happens, we might consolidate our welcome position at the top of the league.

Real university rankings

Earlier this month, the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) published its world university rankings for this year. (The Trinity College Dublin (TCD) press release on our positions in the rankings is here). As univerities world-wide tie themselves up in knots to improve their positions on the various tables published by the Times, the THES, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and US News & World Report, amongst others, here’s a rankings scheme that I think they should all take seriously: Eamonn Fitzgerald on Rainy Day has ranked some of the world’s top universities simpy for the attractiveness of their websites. TCD didn’t feature (funny, that); and Brown is best.

So, just how useful is the European Convention on Human Rights?

The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) gets a good press, and rightly so. The world is a better place for it. Ireland finally got around to incorporating it in 2003, by means of the European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003, but a report launched tonight argues that it has had very little effect so far.

It may be that it is simply too early to tell. (more…)

Cleraun Media Conference

The 11th Cleraun Media Conference takes place this weekend. Highlights from today included the speech of the Minister for Communications opening the conference on “Ensuring Professional Integrity in a Crowded Media” and Dearbhail McDonald’s personal account of her experiences at the coal face. We need more conferences like this, bring together many facets of modern Irish journalism.

Update on 23 October 2006: There are some articles in today’s the Irish Times here and here.

WAN, WEF, and Privacy

This is not just an issue of alphabet soup. WAN and WEF are nothing to do with wrestling, or wildlife, but instead are two global media representative organisations which have called on the Government to withdraw the government’s proposed Privacy Bill. As Christine Newman reports in today’s Irish Times, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) have jointly written a letter to the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and the Minister for Justice, arguing that the current Privacy Bill would overly inhibit press freedom in Ireland. The clamour against the Bill is getting louder. Is it too much to hope that the Government will listen?

We have a cunning plan

Trinity College Dublin last night launched its Strategic Plan at a reception in which the Provost presented the Minister for Education with a copy of the plan. It has played well in a piece by Sean Flynn in today’s Irish Times, under the headline “Trinity seeks 25% increase in postgraduates”, and focussing on the plan’s strong emphasis on increased research activity and aim to improve Trinity’s position in world rankings as a consequence.

It is an important development, and I welcome it wholeheartedly, but I feel the need to sound a note of caution. (more…)