Mechanical Turk »

  • Yes, we’ll soon be charging for the newspaper online. No, we’re not charging for content

    March 11, 2010 @ 5:41 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    Next Thursday (March 18th) we will replace the Today’s Paper page on with the epaper, which replicates online the experience of reading The Irish Times newspaper. (more…)

  • What does the BBC’s Strategy Review have to tell us about the licence fee in Ireland?

    March 2, 2010 @ 11:13 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    Maybe not a lot, but the news that the BBC is planning to cut back on its web activities, along with some of its other digital channels, signals a recognition that, in the UK, the public service broadcaster is taking seriously some of the points which are being made about the distorting effect it is having on the broader media environment. Its Strategy Review, published today, expressed the view ‘that BBC content could be more distinctive and ambitious in fulfilling its public service mission’, and ‘a concern that the BBC is not clear enough about where the boundaries are with the commercial sector,
    especially online’.

    On this side of the Irish Sea, as Adrian Weckler’s excellent post points out, the question of how RTE squares its publicly-funded service remit with its supposedly entirely commercial online activities is becoming more and more pressing. Like Adrian, I don’t believe that any newspaper has a God-given right to survive, but we do need to start talking seriously about whether public service broadcasters are really serving the public interest by using their licence-fee-funded muscle to establish a dominant position in the online news media.

    In the UK, the BBC does not compete with its domestic rivals for advertising revenue, as RTE does in Ireland. But there’s still a vigorous debate there about the impact some of its new media activities are having – on regional newspapers, for example. There have also been attacks from the usual quarters (News International, Associated Newspapers etc) on the fundamental principles on which the British public service model is based.

    As always, vested interests abound, and I have as many of them as the next man, but it’s depressing that in this country the national broadcaster has failed to engage publicly with the rest of us about the best way to maintain a vigorous and diverse media into the 21st century. There’s little sign here of the experiments in sharing footage which the Beeb has undertaken, and certainly no sign of the linking out to other sites which is now promised in the UK.

    At last week’s Digital Media Awards (where modesty doesn’t prevent me from pointing out that beat Morning Ireland and RTE News Now for the Best in Media award), Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan talked about the challenge of ensuring the survival of quality journalism in the future. It would be good to hear whether the Minister intends to follow up on those words with any actions, and whether RTE might move out of its habitual defensive crouch on these issues.

  • I have something I’d like to share with you

    February 25, 2010 @ 6:39 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    We’ve updated our social bookmarking.. and not before time, some of you may feel. We’ve springcleaned and updated our  sharing tools on the top and bottom of articles on The new tools have been live since yesterday, and initial tracking seems to indicate people are using them quite a bit…

    …which is nice.

    Any thoughts on other stuff we should be doing to encourage sharing?

  • Since I’ve been gone…

    February 22, 2010 @ 10:44 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    …those pretty bleak newspaper circulation figures were published.


  • Future’s so bright I’ve gotta wear shades

    February 1, 2010 @ 7:07 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    Behold Bertie Ahern watching his beloved Man U trashing the Gooners in glorious 3D yesterday, courtesy of those astute marketing people at Sky, who pitched up in Fagan’s with their fancy new gear and two sackfuls of cheap plastic specs.  (more…)

  • A tale of two public service broadcasters

    January 31, 2010 @ 11:57 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    I know it’s not always fair to make comparisons between RTE and the BBC – different scale, etc, etc – but the reaction on Twitter last night to those two public service broadcasters reflected my own feelings. Raspberries were generally blown in the direction of the Irish channel’s rehashed Tubridy Tonight, with a strangely muted Brendan O’Connor (how I longed for some of the sage analysis for which he is famed). The Twitterati are hard to please – who could reasonably argue with a bill of fare including both Twink AND Linda Martin?

    Meanwhile, The Virtual Revolution on BBC2 had interviews with most of the people responsible for inventing the universe which you and I inhabit. OK, this history of the World Wide Web was a little gushy at times, and one might have wished for a bit more breadth and depth to the interviews, but the Beeb has made all the rough footage available online for people to do with as they please. Like this:

    YouTube Preview Image

     Increasingly, public service broadcasting on the other side of the Irish Sea means making all the data available online to the public who pay for it. What are the chances of that ever happening at RTE? If it does, I’ll pass on the Twink outtakes, though.

  • News from Denmark, down with paywalls and in Steve we trust…

    January 26, 2010 @ 10:38 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    Just back from f-f-freezing Copenhagen, where I had a very interesting few hours in the offices of Politiken, Denmark’s Guardian-ish left of centre daily. (more…)

  • Just because you’re liberal or gay doesn’t mean you can spout rubbish unchallenged – or does it?

    January 13, 2010 @ 7:07 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    Good piece today by Sarah Carey (again) about Colm Toibin’s comments on the Iris Robinson case during the Marian Finucane programme last weekend. Strikes me that the whole story offers a fascinating insight into the mixed-up state of public discourse on gender and sexuality. (more…)

  • Memories of Michael Dwyer

    January 4, 2010 @ 1:27 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    There are some great tributes on Donald’s blog to the memory of our friend Michael. They give some indication of the affection in which he was held, both by people who knew him personally and by his readers.



  • Who dares suggest The Irish Times doesn’t have its finger on modern culture’s throbbing pulse?

    December 21, 2009 @ 7:38 pm | by Hugh Linehan

    Some readers  have taken umbrage today at the description of Rage Against The Machine as a ‘little-known’ band in our report on the Great Christmas No 1 Battle. (more…)

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