Jim Carroll

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You know a recession is near when George Lee starts grinning

If there is one man who will truly relish all that a recession will throw at us, it is the RTE economics chief bottle-washer. George Lee was in raptures on yesterday’s news bulletins on radio and TV as he went …

Wed, Jun 4, 2008, 14:54

   

If there is one man who will truly relish all that a recession will throw at us, it is the RTE economics chief bottle-washer. George Lee was in raptures on yesterday’s news bulletins on radio and TV as he went through the Mazars’s report on the current state of the Irish business environment and tied it all in with a sorry day for Irish banks as their share price collapsed as easily as Waterford’s hurlers on Sunday. The news editors had to get someone else to analyse Ryanair’s failure to stockpile oil when it was lower in price for fear that Boy George would explode from it all. Oh yes baby, the economic chickens are coming home and he’s just the man to show them where to go.

For all that, though, Lee talking tough about the economy is far more agreeable than the gallery of gombeens who usually do the business reports. Their kingdom is that slot before the 8am news on Morning Ireland. Led by chief jargon cheerleader John Murray, a man who is to business reporting what Des Cahill is to clear, sharp and entertaining sports commentary, these reporters follow the same script every morning without fail. There are a few gentle questions lobbed at a company CEO (who has probably been up since 4.20am consulting with his PR advisors for this one minute breakfast of banalities), a check on what happened in Tokyo overnight (er, not much) and “a quick check” on the currency market. The same banalities, the same soft-soaping, the same abuse of the English language every single morning. Of course, this will continue going forward. See? It’s catching.

What will be interesting to see (the temptation to write “going forward” here is hard to resist but I managed it) is if this mild, insider-dealing way of reporting about business will continue as the recession bites. Will we still have CEOs allowed to waffle on at length using the latest buzzwords about the record losses their companies have accumulated? Or will we get reporters who actually can tackle these issues and ask some tough questions? With more companies and banks going to the wall because of the rather stupid things they did during the boom when no-one was checking what was going on, there’s a need for tougher, more confrontational analysis. Maybe the solution is for RTE to have Boy George on 24/7. Recessionwatch, it has begun.

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