The paper of (some) records (but not others!!): Kevin O’Sullivan’s Irish Times! Newstalk Breakfast

Posted: October 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Irish Times’ Editor, Kevin O’Sullivan, was the special guest on Newstalk’s Breakfast, yesterday morning, when Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue subjected Geraldine Kennedy’s successor to an apparently tough interview.

The new editor, in the job just four months, was forced to field quick-fire questions on issues varying from declining sales, to the website pay wall;  from the broadsheet format, to the Paper’s “property porn” features in the ‘bubble-boom’ years.

O’Sullivan was even pressed on fomer Times’ MD, Maeve Donovan’s severance package and, more importantly, on the Times’ apparent support for Michael D Higgins as President: Was the Irish Times becoming more of a “views paper” than a “news paper”? Was the Irish Times ‘Trust‘ betraying the trust of its readers.

All good! However, no one asked Kevin O’Sullivan the really big questions. This is not suprising. There is a tendency in the Irish media, in particular, not to go really deep, a tendency to make a big fuss of, admittedly, important questions but to ignore the most impotant ones of all.

The good is often the enemy of the best, and journalism — another fisherman-like occupation where one must ‘put out into the deep‘ to get a catch (of truth) —  is no exception to this rule.

You see, no one asked Kevin O’Sullivan the following…

“Why did you put RTÉ’s apology to Fr Kevin Reynolds into a tiny column on the bottom of Page 7, the same day that you placed a story about the family of Dana (who was running at 4% in the polls) at the top of the front page?”


“How do you respond to Dr Helen Buckley’s allegation, against the media in general, of disproportionate reporting with respect to Child abuse?”

And what about?…

“Three per cent of abuse (clerical) got 80% of coverage in approximately 10 years — What about the 97%?!”

As the ‘paper of record’ the Irish Times has a special responsibility. Disproportionate reporting of abuse, not only, does a disservice to the Catholic Church and its vast majority of exceptionally dedicated priests and faithful laity — some of whom now, apparently, have been “made to feel like criminals in their own county”.

The disproportionate reporting of abuse is, also, grossly unfair to the 97% of abuse victims who were not in the tiny minority of victims abused by a similarly tiny minority of priests and religious.

Dr Mark O’Brien, author of The Irish Times: A History (2008), refers to “the institution that is the Irish Times”. By ignoring some sources of abuse while emphasising others (presumably in order to pursue a particular agenda?), the Irish Times appears to be guilty of its own form of ‘institutional neglect‘. Why is some suffering newsworthy while the rest is not worth the paper it’s not printed on.

It is time for the Irish Times to reflect more accurately the abuse that is still going on in this country.   It is time for the ‘paper of  record’ to not merely be a paper of some records while leaving others largely unwritten. It is time, ultimately, for the ‘Trust’ to restore the trust of its neglected Irish Catholic readership.


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