State should ring-fence funding for investigative journalism, says Taoiseach

Support should be provided to media in general, not just public service broadcasting

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: ‘Public service broadcasting has a key role in any nation’s democracy.’ Photograph: Johanna Geron/AFP

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: ‘Public service broadcasting has a key role in any nation’s democracy.’ Photograph: Johanna Geron/AFP

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he would like to see a ring-fenced fund for investigative journalism as part of the State’s plans for providing financial support to the media sector.

He said any proposed new funding mechanism would have to provide support to the media in general, and not just public service broadcasting.

Mr Martin was responding to questions about the Future of the Media Commission, which was established in September and is due to report by the summer of 2021 on a number of issues, including sustainable funding sources, technological change and changes in audience behaviour.

“We set up the commission and part of its function will be to look at the funding dimension to public service broadcasting,” the Taoiseach said.

“The method of allocating funding to independent media will have to be ring -fenced, in my view.” The modern media was under threat from a whole range of forces, and the greater the independence that could be created around journalism and media, the better.

“I think public service broadcasting has a key role in any nation’s democracy. That’s my view, a long term view. Some may say it’s naive in some respects, but irrespective of what I might think, you know, of particular journalists, I do think in the modern era, it is under threat.”

Better paid

He said he would like to “ring-fence” funding from a general fund for journalism, that would be solely for supporting investigative journalism.

Journalists needed to be better paid, Mr Martin said. Young people in college who aspired to be a journalist needed to have a clear, meaningful career pathway before them.

“The world is becoming more authoritarian. The ease with which some governments can undermine media is something we should be worried about. And therefore, we shouldn’t be complacent.”

It needs to be made very clear to the public that it is important for every citizen of the Republic that there is an independent, free media that is well resourced, not patronised by Government, but which has a mechanism that enables the funding of the media into the future.

“That has never been more important given the proliferation of all sorts of sources of news and fake news, and so on, on social media platforms.

“So that’s my view. I think that’s one mechanism I support. Others may have different options. We’ll await the outcome of the commission report.”