New research conducted among Irish speakers has concluded there is strong evidence of a significant dearth of online news and current affairs in the language.
While speakers expressed a high level of satisfaction with the quality of news in Irish, there was strong sentiment that there was a lack of investigative journalism, or news that was distinct and stand-alone, and not just a direct translation of English-language news.
There was also a strong generational divide, with those under 35 saying their main sources of news were online and social media rather than TV or radio. Many in those groups pointed to the relative lack of Irish-language content on online platforms.
The report, Nuacht agus Cúrsaí Reatha agus Pobal Labhartha na Gaeilge, was commissioned by TG4 with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and conducted by NUIG Galway along with Red C.
It found that Irish speakers want investment in online news provision, investigative journalism and more extensive coverage of news and current affairs.
The coverage of local stories was also praised but respondent generally said they would like to see more provision of these stories.
There were three components to the research: focus groups, questions to a research panel and an open survey. There were 819 responses to the open survey.
Traditional media remained a popular source of news, especially in the older age groups: 73 per cent of people surveyed get their news from radio and 68 per cent get their news from television.
Some 84 per cent of those surveyed watch Nuacht TG4. However, people aged 18-35 primarily get their news from online sources or from social media, ahead of radio and television.
There is a strong demand for an Irish language online news service and the existing provision is not considered sufficient to meet the needs of the younger community, the survey found.
According to the research, the online Irish news service, tuairisc.ie, caters well for the core language community.
There is a significant demand for investigative journalism linked to the further development of current affairs programmes such as 7 Lá. TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta are considered good at covering local news. The Irish Language community nonetheless would like more of these stories from their communities, the survey indicated.
Head of TG4 Alan Esslemont told The Irish Times the provision of those services were dependent on the station being resourced more fully into the future. He said when TG4 was founded there was a “de minimus” arrangement put in place to fund the station, but that needed to change as Ireland had changed in the interim.
He compared TG4 funding with that of the Welsh channel S4C, which gets twice, or three times, the level of funding.
“The demand has changed. The demand is now online. But we have no online presence on news in TG4 and we do not have the internal expertise within TG4 at the moment. So a big job of works is ahead of us.”
Mr Esslemont said any of these developments would be contingent on funding.
“It demonstrates the need for more public investment to meet the demands of the audience. TG4, in conjunction with RTÉ, intends to work to reimagine the Irish Language News and Current Affairs Strategy, and ensure that it has the resources to support the delivery of a distinctive, independent and high-quality news brand on TG4 and online.”
Aodh Ó Coileáin of NUIG said the research showed a significant demand in the Irish language community for news and current affairs that comes from a different perspective and that is not directly translated from English language news sources.
“The positive findings of this research indicate that there are marked opportunities for Irish language media to develop, expand and to fulfil the expectations of their users,” he said.