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Does the media spin the big stories because of 'who pays the piper'?

We asked the host of RTÉ’s new programme, The Media Show.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is quizzed by journalists
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is quizzed by journalists
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE HOST OF RTÉ’s new media show has promised to “tackle the big issues” facing the industry in the country – including how the power of media moguls affects the news people watch, read and hear.

Business reporter Conor Brophy said his programme, aptly named The Media Show, would deal with the “big picture stuff” but would also “have a bit of fun” looking at what goes on in newsrooms.

“We hope it will be informative and entertaining, that it won’t be sort of po-faced – it’s not a media show that’s aimed at people who work in the media, it’s going to be accessible,” he told TheJournal.ie.

For the first show, the former Sunday Tribune and Newstalk journalist will interview media correspondent David Folkenflik from the US not-for-profit National Public Radio on the thorny issue of media ownership.

It comes only a few months after the government put out draft guidelines for the industry aimed at making it harder for too many outlets to end up in one person’s control.

While Brophy said he “wouldn’t have a particular opinion on the diversity of the media ownership landscape” in Ireland, he added it was an “interesting topic” the programme would be looking at.

It has always been an issue since the days of (US magnate) William Randolph Hearst and before then – who owns what and what agendas are they pursuing, is there enough diversity out there and is there enough of a balance between the person who pays the piper and the stories that get covered or ignored,” he said.

Conor Brophy 2012_2 RTÉ Media Show presenter Conor Brophy

No more smoke-filled newsrooms

The first show would also look at trends in media consumption and how the business had changed as traditional outlets came to grips with digital content, mobile devices and the rise of “citizen journalists”.

Brophy said during his 15 years in newsrooms he had already seen the industry go through a seismic shift and there were likely to be more casualties as media outlets worked out how to make money in the digital news age.

“I think I just about missed the days of the smoke-filled newsroom, although Nell McCafferty still smoked when I worked at the Tribune - I don’t think she was allowed, but she did anyway,” he said.

“The process of the job, the day-to-day, has changed hugely – the demands on you as a reporter and how quickly things go from your desk to the wider world.”

But despite the widespread bloodletting in the media trade, Brophy said the digital transition had also come with some clear positives for media consumers.

Even if I look at my own daughter, God, she’s so much better informed at five than I was at probably twice her age,” he said.

The Media Show will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 from 7pm  to 7.30pm on Sundays from tomorrow. It is scheduled to run for 13 weeks.

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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