Friday, November 04, 2005


Indo and "disgraceful" journalism

The Indo, as do all the papers, today runs the story on Julia Kushnir and her statement on the Liam Lawlor crash. They report how the press acted in a disgraceful manner. Good of the Indo (and the Evening Herald) to give us an example by using the Daily Star's pic of Ms Kushnir, taken a few days after the crash when she was still in a bad way and was obviously trying to tell the reporter and photographer to go away.

By the way, you have to wonder what ex-Indo editor Vinnie Doyle makes of the fact that in the short few weeks since his retirement, his successor has turned the paper into a slightly more-up-market version of the Evening Herald.

All the paragraphs are a really short.
So they are.
This means they can stretch out the stories to fill the broadsheet. Because it's obvious they design the tabloid edition first.
And try and make it fit the broadsheet.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


The Papers' George Best Deathwatch

First, a ‘Fancy That’, (as Private Eye calls them):

Daily Star, Oct 4: Best Fights for his Life in Hospital

Belfast Telegraph, Oct 4: Best Due to Leave Intensive Care

With George Best seriously ill it’s given the press a chance to drag out its ‘Best is Dying’ headlines. It’s been a long-running favourite over the past decade. ‘My Pal Bestie’s On His Deathbed’ was a Mirror headline back in 2001. That same year, the Scotsman told us that ‘Best is Fighting for his Life Again’. On October 3rd, the Evening Standard said that ‘George Best was critically ill this afternoon in intensive care and was said to be slipping "in and out of consciousness".’ Of course, there were plenty of ‘One More Drink Will Kill Him’ headlines around the time he had his implant that was supposed to stop him from drinking again, and the ‘Best Had Three Months to Live’ stories when he was getting his liver transplant. I’m not trying to diminish the fact that he’s a very ill man right now, only that you would almost think the press gets a thrill from the regular promise of Best’s tragic death.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Red-light to Red-Faced

Some talking points on the Liam Lawlor coverage. Feel free to comment:

1. The Sunday Independent promised a full investigation of how it ended up reporting that Liam Lawlor had been with a prostitute when the car crashed. Sure enough, the found out who to blame. It’s this guy: Nick Paton Walsh, a Guardian journalist. He said it was true, Michael Denieffe, a Managing Editor of Independent Newspapers, told The Last Word. He was asked several times to check it out, and he did. We’re sorry, said the Sindo. Blame Paton Walsh.

2. Also, the whole affair made the Sunday Tribune look pretty dumb. It didn’t run the story in early editions, but did in later ones once the Sindo had gone with the story. How much did it take the Sindo’s lead? Its editor Noirin Hegarty was on Questions and Answers last night saying that they made the decision independent of the Independent. But it's fair to ask, given that the Tribune is in freefall, just how pure was its motivation?

3. Somebody should have told The Guardian that the story was a bit dodgy. On Monday, when details had been clarified and the Irish papers had got the story straight, it was still saying that the passenger Julia Kushnir was a 19-year-old, and that Lawlor had died in the red-light district. "A spokesman for Moscow police said it appeared the girl had not known Lawlor long". Nod-nod. Wink-wink, and all that.

4. If anything half-decent comes out of this for Ms Kushnir, let’s hope she has decent legal representation and gets a settlement. Several papers called her a whore. In Ireland, that would be mean a BIG pay-out from the papers before it ever went to court. Surely, they’ll recompense her in some way. Surely, they wouldn’t just offer her a quick apology and sneak away hoping she doesn’t notice the chequebook sticking out of their back pocket.

5. And if she does get cash, will they pay her at a proper Irish/Euro rate, or try and get away with the cheap Russian rouble option?

6. And what about all the extra stuff that featured in Henry McDonald’s Observer report, which they've now taken off their site, but is still in Google's Cache? It was “known” that Lawlor liked to visit sex clubs and brothels in Prague. Commentators keep asking if the coverage was tainted by his reputation as a “controversial” politician, but maybe the newsrooms reckoned the could go with the story because they’d heard he had a liking for that sort of thing and decided it must be true this time.

7. The Sunday Indo's coverage was the big story of Monday. Somehow, it doesn't make the front page of Tuesday's Irish Independent. How odd.

8. Seeing as Glenda Gilson was a fixture in the Sunday Independent before the death of her uncle, how long will it be before she poses for the paper again?

9. Fair play to the Last Word which replayed an interview featuring Liam Lawlor talking about press intrusion. If you had turned on the show during it, you would have sworn he'd come back to have his say.

10. Finally, we have these newspapers to blame for a full hour of Liveline given over to people saying what a decent sort Lawlor was, and how bad the media was. Lawlor was a corrupt politician, who wasted millions in tax-payers money, held up tribunal work and was involved in dreadful planning decisions that changed the face of West Dublin. The papers should not have been the story. How big a screw up do you have to make to concede the moral high ground to a character like his, regardless of how he died?

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