Present Tense »

  • Pat Kenny breaks his silence

    April 15, 2008 @ 8:26 am | by Shane Hegarty

    Pat Kenny has John McCririck as a guest on last Friday’s Late Late Show, and an early wise crack from McCririck drew a self-deprecating and funny response from the host. It’s here.

    Be aware that this clip includes gratuitous scenes of John McCririck, although he does go all Richard Dawkins towards the end of the interview and antagonises the audience in pantomime fashion.

  • Nuala O’Faolain

    April 14, 2008 @ 8:24 am | by Shane Hegarty

    Although there has been a large amount of coverage of Nuala O’Faolain’s interview with Marian Finucane – including the entire transcript in the Sunday Independent – it should still be listened to. It can be found on the RTÉ website here (from 6m 50s).

    This morning, Nell McCafferty was interviewed on Morning Ireland and addressed the issue of how we talk about (or avoid talking about) death, and raised the issue of euthanasia – something, she emphasised, which was not raised by O’Faolain herself. A deliberately uncomfortable conversation, and clearly difficult for interviewer Aine Lawlor, you can here that here here (from 1hr 47m 37s).

  • Saturday column: the ads don’t work

    April 12, 2008 @ 9:53 am | by Shane Hegarty
    YouTube Preview Image

    THE DEPARTMENT of the Environment is running a television ad proclaiming that this generation will be defined by how we tackle climate change.

    As examples of previous generational challenges, it includes images of emigration, an aid worker in Africa, and the North. To illustrate the Independence era, it features both Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins, so hinting that someone in the Department felt it was best that the issue of switching off unnecessary lights was not split along Treaty lines.

    But each time this “Change your world. Change the world” ad runs (to be followed by a commercial for bottled water or some attractive product wrapped in unnecessary packaging) you have to wonder: what’s the point? Yes, it is trying to help us take personal responsibility for a global issue. And it directs us to a website that has handy tips, a map informing us that Westmeath will some day be a haven for exotic wildlife, and that promises it will soon feature a carbon calculator.

    But is it really worth spending millions to raise awareness of an issue that the public is possibly more aware of than any other? It’s a message that is already being hammered home in schools, that’s been seen in an Oscar-winning documentary, and that pops up in regular news reports. And we’re still fresh from the Power of One and the Race Against Waste ads, also funded by the Government. Surely anyone on this island who hasn’t already got the message is, at this stage, never going to get it, no matter how snappy the ads. (more…)

  • An immutable law of journalism

    April 11, 2008 @ 10:01 am | by Shane Hegarty

    Work always expands to fill the space created by the deadline

    If you have two weeks to write a piece, you will intend to do it in one week but will instead file it at the last possible second.

    This rule applies to any deadline, whether it’s six hours or three months away.

  • The reader: always right

    April 10, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    This paper has been offering comprehensive reports and analysis of Bertie Ahern’s resignation, Brian Cowen’s ascendancy, the Mahon tribunal and important domestic and international events – and the most read story on for about 48 hours now? A two-day old story about the disappearance of a tragic, but relatively obscure British children’s TV presenter.

    There’s a lesson in that. Somewhere.

  • Links

    @ 2:07 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    Kristine Lowe asks do journalists make good bloggers?

    Una on Hot Press: Giving a Voice to Idiots. Ouch, ouch and treble ouch.

    Jazz Biscuit. Guaranteed to be good.

    The paper’s science page has a piece on the Large Hadron Collider and how it might create a black hole, but some wonder if it might bring time travellers to us.

    Bubble wrap that you can pop forever.

  • Let’s move to Venezuala

    @ 7:30 am | by Shane Hegarty

    From Wednesday’s Breaking News:

    Venezuela has forced US cartoon The Simpsons off its airwaves, calling the show a potentially bad influence on children, and filled its morning slot with reruns of the beach-and-bikini show Baywatch.

    Venezuala’s kids TV presenter, Ron Jeremy, was believed to have felt particularly strongly about this.

  • Press Release of the Day

    April 9, 2008 @ 12:35 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    From Astronomy Ireland:


    Dr. Brian Cox, formerly of pop sensations Dare and D:Ream is presenting this month’s Astronomy Ireland public lecture. While playing keyboards and touring the world singing such hits as “U R The Best Thing ” and “Things Can Only Get Better” he was also continuing his physics studies.

    Now working for CERN (The European Organisation for Nuclear Research) at “the largest refrigerator in the world” on the Franco-Swiss border, Dr. Cox will explain dark matter and descibe in laymans terms the work being carried out on behalf of the 20 member states of CERN and what new discoveries may come to light when the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is turned on later this year. Will the LHC create mini black holes or time portals when it is commissioned? These are some of the questions being asked by some of the 2,500 scientists working at the €10 billion facility

    From Pop Star to Particle Physicist, to find out how it’s done and what new exotic particles may be discovered come along to our April monthly lecture.

    Next month, Prof Yazz gives a lecture titled “The Only Way Is Up: The latest breakthroughs in anti-gravity technology”.

  • Maybe we need a charity single…

    @ 9:04 am | by Shane Hegarty

    The Dept of Environment’s new ad, telling you that how we tackle climate change will define this generation, can be seen here.

    Note the use of both Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera as symbols of the struggle for independence. Message: just because you might disagree on the Treaty, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t turn off unnecessary lights.

  • Transport 21: Progress in (Slow) Motion

    April 8, 2008 @ 12:47 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    There’s a new ad telling us how good Transport 21 will be when it’s all done. And it might be right, but the phrase “Progress in Motion” is not nearly as catchy as Noel Dempsey’s assertion that the timetable for completion was always “indicative” rather than exact. It’s less exciting than him saying there has been some “slippage” on an unrealistic original timetable. Or the revelation a third of the delivery dates have been postponed.

    But it’s the future. And it’s grafitti free.

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  • 21st Century Child, 21st century conundrum

    @ 8:32 am | by Shane Hegarty

    RTÉ’s new long-term project 21st Century Child began last night. Too busy establishing characters and the premise for the series, the first episode was pretty dull. But it will, like Child Of Our Time (the series it apes) develop over years rather than weeks.

    But, as with the BBC project, it raises interesting questions about how much the mere observation of these children over a period of years will actually affect their development.

    RTÉ announces that:

    21st Century Child promises a fascinating study of the development of our children through their life stages. The 21st Century Child cameras will be there, capturing the dynamic of the Irish family in some of its many different guises.

    In fact, it’s open in how the presenter and psychologist David Coleman will directly assist the parents at times, which actually makes the series something of a very long episode of his previous series Families in Trouble.

    There may be nothing fundamentally negative about that – he is excellent in that after all, and attractively forthright to the point of being grim. And filming for 21st Century Child will, presumably, only impinge on the subjects’ lives occasionally each year, so it will hardly be The Truman Show. But once a television crew is invited into a family, the consequences are obvious in terms of their privacy alone. When they are invited in for a period of six years (less than BBC’s 20-year plan) it’s worth pondering what fundamental impact it might have on a child’s development, and that of the family as a whole.

  • Olympic torch relay: move along, nothing to see here

    April 7, 2008 @ 10:29 am | by Shane Hegarty

    UPDATE: According to reports, the flame has been extinguished by officials and the torch put on a bus in order to avoid protests. Lots of YouTube updates here.

    The scenes along the Olympic torch relay route yesterday were extraordinary. Blue-tracksuited Chinese surrounded by yellow-jacketed police, trying to fend off invaders, so that by the end the torch and its bearers were almost invisible behind a bouncing wall of paranoia. (more…)

  • Saturday column: Bertie’s big twist

    April 5, 2008 @ 9:57 am | by Shane Hegarty

    ON WEDNESDAY, it became obvious where Cecelia Ahern had inherited her narrative skills from.

    Her father, it seems, has passed on not his penchant for tortuous, intricate and confusing plotting, but his ability to introduce a sudden twist at the moment you least expect it. This week’s was surprising, effective and satisfying. Most important for the general public, it was tremendously good fun.

    Every story needs a twist, but this is an era in which surprises come rarely. The weekly glossies have destroyed the suspense of the soap opera, whose plots are now revealed weeks before climaxing on screen. Instant media means movie twists are spoiled before they hit the cinemas; books are scanned and posted online for those who want to skip straight to the end; US TV dramas are reported, dissected and spoofed in the few days it takes them to cross the Atlantic.

    Meanwhile, because it knows the public gets a kick out of a newsflash, Sky News has devalued the concept by running “news alerts” all day, even for the most minor stories.

    Bertie Ahern, it seems, appreciates just how much the public loves a good shock. In hindsight, when the discussion gradually turned to the question of when he might go, the answer should always have been “when we least expect it”. He had already proven his narrative élan last year when he allowed the rumours about the date of an election to stretch out almost to the point of tedium. Then, at possibly the least likely moment imaginable, dawn on a Sunday morning, he travelled to Áras an Uachtaráin – trailed by political correspondents so unprepared they might as well have been half-dressed and had toast sticking out of their mouths. (more…)

  • Good greetings to you. My name is Mr David Adamas. Today, I kill you.

    April 4, 2008 @ 7:43 am | by Shane Hegarty

    In a piece by Fionola Meredith on e-mail “netiquette” she interviews a woman who gets a spam mail that is new to me.

    “Lots of people get the spam e-mails purportedly from childless dying ladies whose rich husbands have left them several million in a strong box somewhere, offering the recipient a proportion of the money if they can help retrieve it.

    “I, however, am the only person I know who has twice received e-mails from people threatening to kill me. The story is that ‘Blood Killer’ – which is how it’s signed – has been paid £10,000 to assassinate me, but having followed me for a week, he now knows I am innocent of all charges. All I have to do is leave £5,000 in his bank account, and he will not only let me live, but provide video footage of his employer. If, however, I try to contact the police, HIS BOYS (that’s how it’s written) will be watching me. The opening greeting is ‘Bad day . . . ‘. Well, it makes me laugh.”

    I am now cursing my spam filter.

  • “The ceiling needs more stalactites…”

    April 3, 2008 @ 4:48 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    The Everton footballer Phil Neville has put his house on the market. Perhaps no-one will appreciate its unique sense of style. But they can certainly get a laugh out of it.


    Take a tour here. Warning: this may hurt your eyes.

  • And the award for most nauseating coverage of Bertie’s resignation goes to…

    @ 11:58 am | by Shane Hegarty

    RTÉ’s Nine O’Clock News, which last night went out on a musical montage (Westlife, naturally). “How could you just turn and walk away…”

    Watch the piece here.

    Warning: this may make you cry tears of vomit.

  • Bertie: the speech for those who missed it

    April 2, 2008 @ 10:28 am | by Shane Hegarty

    “I’d like to say that it has been an honour to serve Fianna Fáil. Thanks to the people in Fianna Fáil. They clearly take precedence over the rest of the people. By the way, I have been the second longest-serving taoiseach. Not the second-most corrupt though. No way.

    “It was honour to join such giants as De Valera and Lemass. Charlie who? Never heard of him.

    “I will now assert my ordinary man credentials by thanking the plain people of Ireland who prayed for me and sent me Mass cards. I will know tighten my mouth some more to give the impression that I could cry at any minute.

    “I want to thank my colleagues who are gathered around me today, blatantly reading my script and wondering how much longer I’m going to talk for.

    “I want to say that I fully respect my coalition partners, Mary Harney and John Gormley. Gormley, you’ll have noticed, is standing on my shoulder today like some slobbering pet. Good boy, John. Now sit.

    “I want to thank my make-up team who have given me this healthy orange glow, which is emphasised by the pasty faces of the cabinet crowding into shot around me as I speak.

    “While I have always done my duty for the people only and not myself, the media has steered the political discussion towards the minutiae of my private life. I will not allow this to happen and so will throw myself selflessly on the sword so that we can get on with talking about the important issues of Irish politics, such as how much of a political genius I am.

    “Now, I will talk about the minutiae of my private life. At the time all this money was swilling around my bank accounts I was undergoing great problems in my family life. Remember those? They worked as an excuse before, so damn it I’ll use that card one last time.

    “When deciding on a date to go, I took several factors into account, including my speech to the joint houses of Congress, the visit of a Japanese delegation and the Lisbon treaty vote. So, I am getting out of here before that referendum campaign kicks in. If you think it’s boring, try negotiating the bloody thing.

    “Therefore, I will tender my resignation to President McAleese on May 6th. You won’t have Bertie to kick around anymore.”

  • O’Briens, Brody Sweeney and good taste

    @ 9:23 am | by Shane Hegarty

    As a letter writer points out today, for Brody Sweeney in a book review on Monday to describe Starbucks coffee as “awful” is somewhat hypocritical.

    Here is what Sweeney said of his rival:

    The fact Starbucks can sell such awful coffee is a testament to the power of branding. For in truth, the quality of the coffee is not the reason people shop there, it’s because it’s cool, and convenient, and they have tapped into the “third place” social phenomenon – and they are brilliant marketeers.

    Which begs the question, how did O’Briens manage to become successful by selling even worse coffee?

  • Yet another Late Late Show post

    April 1, 2008 @ 1:09 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    Some observations that arise from Friday’s Late Late:

    1) Celebrity Bainisteioir is a pretty good idea for a show, but at what point will the Late Late stop acting as a free ad for RTÉ reality shows?

    2) Is Rasher the Late Late’s pet artist? Has it adopted him? And, frankly, is he actually that good, or does his talent – like Kevin Sharkey and Guggi – come from getting publicity in a media that doesn’t give a damn if he can paint or not.

    3) Returning to the Harris, Dunphy, Waters debate was a natural but entertaining idea. As an aside, the Aertel p888, subtitle writer did an incredible job during the later stages of this debate. Well done. Take the rest of the week off.

  • The Lynx effect: possibly exaggerated

    @ 9:26 am | by Shane Hegarty

    lynx.jpgThe Lynx billboards tell us that the deodorant is as tempting as chocolate. The TV commercials feature a chocolate man having bits of him bitten off by fine-looking young ladies. Previous ads told us that a spray of Lynx Africa would send supermodels into orgasmic eruption.

    Lynx: something teenage boys use to mask the fact they haven’t showered in a week; which triggers Musk-flavoured coughing; which acts as a corrosive agent on the nostrils.

    Does this hold the record for greatest disparity between advertising image and the reality of the product?

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