School of Journalism series begins

Catherine Healy

Student Affairs Correspondent

Trinity News held the inaugural event of its School of Journalism on Monday 8th October in the form of a panel discussion on the role of the media in society. The panellists present were the journalist Siobhan McDermott of Rabble magazine, the lecturer and columnist Harry Browne, the freelance journalist Gerard Cunningham and the broadcaster Heidi Bedell from Northeast Access Radio (Near) FM as well as the National University of Ireland, Maynooth academics Dr Anne O’Brien and Dr Gavan Titley.

McDermott spoke about the aims of the non-profit newspaper Rabble. Run independently by volunteers, Rabble aims to create a space for critiques and stories generally ignored by mainstream media. Browne, now a Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer, told the audience about his experience of working for the Irish Times, during which he said he wrote very little “good journalism”. He also addressed, amongst many other hindrances, the interdependent relationship that exists between journalists and politicians. Known for his coverage of criminal and civil trials, Cunningham also spoke about the reality of working as a journalist and the constraints involved.

Bedell, the vice-chairperson of the Near community media co-operative, told the audience about the openness of local radio and its inclusivity on a community level, while O’Brien addressed the barriers that still exist for women working in media. Listing examples of gender bias across radio and television, she raised a number of issues that she feels must be addressed in achieving a more representative media. Titley spoke about further problems with mainstream Irish media, referencing the coverage of the former junior minister Róisín Shortall’s resignation as an example of a reluctance to engage in wider political issues such as the privatisation of healthcare.

The panel discussion was followed by lively audience participation, where questions such as the possibility of critique and objectivity were raised.