The future of journalism: the conversation

Opinion: Part 6 in series: ‘Irish Times’ readers’ online comments

Read all about it: what the future holds for  journalism. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Read all about it: what the future holds for journalism. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien


Part 1: You are in the digital zone By Hugh Linehan, Irish Times digital development editor. Original article and comment are at

Shane O Leary

Great read, and it’s great to see a legacy Irish media org finally waking up to the opportunity/necessity. However, I would say that the line re: ‘now to survive...’ is slightly scary. Surely any smart business, no matter what industry it’s in, should have been ‘experimenting, innovating and moving quickly’ for the last few years and working on its digital offering? It seems that some in the media biz are all too happy to wait and see rather than grab the bull by the horns?

Hop Lite

Highlight in the print paper and online some of the better comments in the previous day. Bring us in out of the cold (though I suspect I will rarely feature – such is my wont for lost causes!).

Conor Doyle

In the US every $7 loss in print is only being replaced by $1 in digital revenue. The value of quality, first hand content is not being levered by the Irish media. It’s not helped by the industry itself and its ‘thinking’.


This is both a timely and an important article. Some fine observations and suggestions among the comments as well. It cannot have been easy to write about the declining newspaper business which has already faced severe cuts and job losses in recent years. […]

Digital change can be abrupt – just look at the success of Netflix and indeed of online giants like Amazon and the accompanying decline of the traditional DVD market and retail model. Something which may help some newspapers survive [...] is the demand for a quality product, customer loyalty and habit.

Ted Hagan

People are still reading newspapers, but increasingly online. Papers like the Guardian and the Mail in the UK have seen the future and seem well-prepared, with their sights set on a more international market. There is still great journalism about. Hopefully advertising will follow. Whether smaller players like The Irish Times will survive the maelstrom is in the lap of the gods. I dearly hope so.

Part 2: Distinctive voices push boundaries By Davin O’Dwyer, Irish Times journalist. Original article and comment are at

Paul Hunt

“This brings fresh challenges for news organisations geared towards covering the news on an iterative day-by-day schedule.” I’m not sure that the mainstream media has any understanding of what news is any more. In the more traditional sense, news is the reporting of unexpected events that have impacts on people in their localities or much wider; and news is the reporting of expected events that have public ramifications and may lead to other expected or unexpected events. It even seems to extend to coverage of the often self-promoting antics of ‘celebrities’. […]

Yet this seems to be one of the main activities that most Irish ‘journalists’ perform independently of the main news gathering agencies. This is simply the dissemination of propaganda. The real news is what the wealthy, powerful and influential are determined to hide from the public behind this propaganda smoke-screen. Irish ‘journalists’ have no incentive – and every incentive not – to dig this out in the public interest. That’s why the mainstream media in Ireland and elsewhere are facing an existential threat.

Arthur Glassley

The boundaries of journalism have certainly expanded: the result is better than the constant printing of pro-government and pro-business “stories.” But there were usually alternatives. In the days of James II, handbills were printed and distributed on the city streets... More recently, The Indo and The Irish Press were a good metaphor for what has prevailed for long in journalism--opposing partisan shills. But it’s still much the same. The Daily Kos, the Drudge Report, Fox, MSNBC... Few people sift through the invective to find the truth of a story. Where something like the truth is offered it is easily discredited in the eyes of the faithful simply by calling it “biased.” Look at the fate of some of the best established science – evolution of species, man-made climate change. These have been made into partisan issues for commercial and political reasons, and the truth be damned.


Part 3: Verification key to trust By George Brock, professor and head of journalism at City University London. His book Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age was published last year. Original article and comment are at

Tom Partridge

Unfortunately many newspapers have an agenda and are quite prepared to accept information which is not fully authenticated in order to support their biased position. When credibility is lost it is not easily regained. The truth should be sacrosanct.

Padraic Neary

How ironic. “The surprisingly persistent myth that digital technology would not really alter the landscape of news has been erased both by the steady adoption of smartphones, tablets and broadband and by the growing awareness that the internet is much more disruptive than merely being a shift to another, faster distribution system.” But apparently has not altered “economics” at all. Journalists have betrayed their profession and public by capitulation to pressure from politicians and economists not to investigate the impact of technology on economic activity. […]

Michael McPhillips

The problem facing journalists is that when it costs about €1 a day to browse the internet on a mobile, get a surfeit of headlines and the bones of leading stories, who wants to buy newspapers for more money than that? Journalists and hacks therefore have to produce top class writing and relevant facts to gain readers that believe them worth the money and effort and if found wanting in any field of news, weak on any important issue, dishonest or less than just in politics and government policy, the internet is always there to replace them. What the public needs most of all is for journalists to hold authority to account on its behalf and expose it when it’s corrupt, unfair, and serving sectional interests to the detriment of the general public and the common good.

Part 4: Bringing power to account By Kate Shanahan, head of journalism and communications at DIT. Original article and comment are at

Tony Garcia

The problem with today’s journalism is that most journalists and editors are more interested in social changes than reporting that facts as they are. News agencies, especially public ly funded ones, are Left-leaning and their coverage is very sympathetic to liberal ideas while very critical to conservative ones. In no way should taxpayer’s money be used to fund any kind of indoctrination, be [it] political, religious or social.

Tom Molloy

The power of journalists is being brought to account. Alienating the middle class by insulting their intelligence with populist opinion and content was a major error for broadsheets and unless they can eliminate Google and common sense amongst the now better educated their relevance will further diminish.

Liam Foley

Journalism Schools. Has anyone noticed how since journalism has become a college subject the quality of journalism has declined? You can’t learn how to be a good writer, an ethical practitioner by sitting in a classroom and learning proper posture for a studio appearance.

Part 5: Long-form versus bite-sized By Laura Slattery, an Irish Times business reporter who writes a weekly column on media and marketing. Original article and comment are at

Patrick Hennessy

Good article but perhaps the news versus opinion dichotomy comes in here. News reporting can be short. Or has news reporting in print media almost disappeared?. Opinion columns depending on subject matter may require lengthy articles. Too much restriction on length prohibits journalists taking on complex topics. Pity.

Michael Hennigan

There is no mystery here: people will read long-form material of a few thousand words if there is interesting content with some facts that are not commonly known and content that is not just a copy of existing widely circulated material. The New Yorker which has a subscriber base of 1 million , says 21 per cent of its circulation is in the 18-34 bracket and the second biggest audience is the over 65s+ at 25 per cent. The New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, cover a wide range of topics and there is always something that is not commonly known – the WSJ does often challenge business and its editorial views do not devalue its news content. It’s interesting that Laura avoids the examples she knows best - The Irish Times traffic to feature pieces compared with news and what is shared via Facebook and Twitter: e.g. water charges, burning bondholders or smog in Beijing.

Some of the comments have been edited for length

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