Newspaper's 'Tribune' cover marks new low in Irish journalism, says NUJ


THERE HAS been strong criticism of the Irish Mail on Sundayfor publishing a special edition yesterday with a front page masthead and layout which replicated those of its rival, the Sunday Tribune.

The Sunday Tribuneis not to publish for the next few weeks following the appointment of a receiver last week. The receiver is seeking a buyer for the newspaper.

Yesterday, the Irish Mail on Sundaypublished about 25,000 copies of a special edition with the Sunday Tribune-style front page.

The move was criticised by the Sunday Tribuneeditor Nóirín Hegarty and by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

However, the editor of the Irish Mail on Sunday, Sebastian Hamilton, defended the publication.

Hegarty said she was “appalled and shocked” that another newspaper would stoop so low to plagiarise a front-page lookalike of the Sunday Tribunewith the naked ambition of gaining extra circulation.

“The Mail On Sundayhas shown in this act that it will leave no stone unturned in the race to the bottom.”

She said the Sunday Tribunemanagement and staff as well as the receiver, Jim Luby, were working flat out in the hope of keeping afloat the newspaper, which employs 43 people.

“This attempt at burial of a still alive corpse and grave robbing by the Mail group is a shameless act of commercial vandalism,” she said.

The Irish secretary of the NUJ, Séamus Dooley, described the move by the Irish Mail on Sundayas “crass and cynical”.

“This was a cynical marketing exercise and represents a new low in Irish journalism. There can be no justification for the decision to reproduce the Sunday Tribunemasthead instead of the Sunday Mail’s own masthead.”

He said that it represented a move by the Irish Mail on Sundayto attempt to confuse readers and to cash in on the crisis at the Sunday Tribune.

However, Hamilton said the Mail group employed 161 staff in Ireland – almost four times as many as the Sunday Tribune. He said the Irish Mail on Sundaywas written in Ireland, edited in Ireland and printed and produced in Ireland. He said that it had a track record of powerful investigations.

“We want to protect those 161 Irish jobs by persuading as many Tribune readers as possible to keep buying newspapers. If today’s marketing exercise encourages more people to buy a paper today, surely that is something we should encourage.

“The Tribune was shut down by its owners, who also own the Sunday Independent. We want to offer Tribune readers a genuine alternative.”

Last night the National Consumer Agency said that it was taking the matter seriously. A spokesman said that it would be contacting the Irish Mail on Sundayregarding the issue today.