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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: August 11, 2008 @ 12:58 pm

    Media Intrusion and Dunking the Biscuit

    Harry McGee

    Niamh Horan’s encounter with Brian Cowen in Connemara took doorstep journalism to a different level.

    Horan is the latest young journalist to be pedestalised by the Sunday Independent – flying the flag for what Eamon Dunphy once memorably described as the Duckworth School of Journalism.

    Horan went down to Ballyconneely in Connemara to doorstep the Taoiseach on his holidays.

    She managed to wangle her way into the mobile home next door to the one Cowen stays in, without telling the couple who invited her in that she was a journalist. Then Brian Cowen just happened to pop in to say hello. He had started his conversation and had even – she reported – dunked his biscuit into his tea and was already in the mid-conversation, when she declared herself to be a journalist.

    Her faithful report of how a quite relaxing day for the Taoiseach “was about to become my lucky break” included a description of the soggy part of the biscuit falling to the floor in the long and dramatic pause of silence that followed her bombshell annuncement. It seems that coe-turling embarrassment is an emotion that has never entered planet Horan.

    For his occasional gruffness, it’s not in Cowen’s nature to be rude. And stunned as he was by this gross invasion of his private family life, he was polite enough to adjust and answer a couple of questions.

    There are a number of things about the interview that are deeply worrying. Besides the fact that the Sunday Independent ran it in the first place, Cowen’s request to her not to mention that he was staying where he was (presumably for security and privacy reasons) was completely and utterly ignored to allow for a clunky cheapshot comparison with Craggy Island.

    But that bit that is truly hilarious is the following paragraph, Horan’s description of a question that she asked (seemingly without irony).

    “I inquire about how he has been coping with the media intrusiton since he took on the high-profiole role in the country and it is easy to see he is still taking time to adjust.”

    I can really sense the concern there, can’t you?

    Now that really takes the biscuit, soggy or not. 

    • Seán says:

      I’m delighted that another journalist has taken the time to point this out. Trading in basic decency appears to be the price of success for an aspiring journalist with the Sunday Indo. I also found it interesting that the paper ran virtually the same headline as the Dail broke for the summer this year and last accusing Cowen of relaxing while the country entered crisis. Like we’ve entered a war or something… The pseudo-populism is priceless.

    • John says:

      I agree, that was typical Independent Newspapers rubbish. Poor Cowen can’t win with these idiots on his case.

    • Brock Landers says:

      It really is an incredible piece of journalism. Here’s the link for anyone who hasn’t read it: http://home.eircom.net/content/unison/national/13448781?view=Eircomnet

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      The Sindo is, in general, a disgrace and not a real newspaper.

      I was struck yesterday that, despite it being the silly season, there was plenty of news going on – not least the war in Georgia. With multiple interesting stories to pick from (Georgia, IRA, ID Cards, real Olympic news) the main story on the front of the Sindo was something about Martin Cullen’s pyjamas. Truly pathetic.

      As for the rest. “Brian Cown – Good or Bad?”

      Should be “Sunday Indepenent – Sad or Irrelevant?”

    • JD says:

      Hunter S. Thompson must be doing 360s in his grave. At least she can drive, though, so there’ll always be a pizza delivery job to fall back on.

      Courtesy is one thing, but surely there is something not quite right when the leader of this country is not prepared to tell a pup journalist that they are bang out of order and to go take a hike when a situation like that occurs. Do the politicians really fear the Indo that much that they won’t risk causing any antagonism?

      The people bought Bertie’s tears when he publicly and inappropriately turned his dodgey financial practises into a deeply private family matter, surely they would fully support Cowen making a stand on a genuine point of common decency. While I despise Fianna Fail, I would have backed him to the hilt if he had sent her off with a flea in her ear followed by some sharp words to her editor.

    • Eoin says:

      It’s heartening to see a journalist criticise another member of the fourth estate, particularly when they criticise a journalist of another national publication, especially when they’re from the IN&M stable. I’m well aware that we have a relatively small pool of journalists on the national scene and when one is openly critical of one of the O’Reilly publications they close off many future employment opportunities (should times get tough and they get desperate).
      Hopefully more journalists will do likewise. I note Michael Clifford did so recently in the Tribune ( http://www.tribune.ie/news/article/2008/jun/29/cowen-more-sindo-against-than-sinning/ ). It’s time that the Sindo is shown for what it is by other mainstream publications. Well done, Harry.

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      The Phoenix has a bit on her this week. They’re spot on, pointing out the Sindo’s obsession with their reporters taking centre stage in their articles.

    • Jack O'Bite says:

      I know Ms Horan and she’s actually very endearing and great company.

    • Jack O'Bite says:

      Ahhh Harry, ye left out the qualifier!!

    • Harry says:

      Sorry Jack I did. I think the qualifier needs to be rephrased slightly!

    • Sam says:

      These negative comments against Niamh are sad and jealous and come from pitiful begrudgers. I think it was great journalism and it’s unfortunate that you negative people can’t see the same.

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