Anyone expecting our show this evening, April 21st, to be full of Gavan O’Reilly and Independent Newspapers will be disappointed. But I’ll explain. By late Thursday when the story broke we decided it would be everywhere; on radio and TV current affairs and lots of print coverage. So rather than sounding the same we stuck with the programme we’d recorded and edited and decided to focus fully on the issue of cross media and media ownership next week when we can get behind the story and do something fresh and original which will add value to the public conversation. We’re not a live show. We record all day Wednesday with our reporter Paula Cunniffe working on future packages and items across the week. So we edit thursday and generally aim to get the programme to RTE early Friday morning so Radio 1 can hear it before transmission to make sure it is compliant. We are a bit like a weekend current affairs magazine; topical but if something happens Friday or Saturday the challenge will be to decide if it is big enough to warrant us to re-record. And in reality we are not a news programme. Our mission is to get behind media stories so for us the fit is to unpack the very complex issues of ownership, plurality of ownership, concentration, cross-media and policy and with that we’ve got some surprising elements in next week’s show.
This week our show takes a theme of the shift online in media from the online news successes at the Pulitzer Prize awards this week to the success of Mark Little’s Storyful operation, and the question whether the print version of newspapers is dead?. Storyful is a Dublin based global, digital news agency, which is re-writing our definitions of news and journalism while sticking to the principles of journalism 101 that everything is verified and checked. Newspapers have been hard hit by this shift online. We talk to young people who see news as something they get from social media and not newspapers. They rarely buy them and if they read its Metro. We hear from Noirin Hegarty online editor at the Irish Independent, John Burns of the Sunday Times and David Cochrane of Politics.ie. We also look at what happened when we, the audiences, readers and viewers, shift online and how the media money, which is the funding base of much of content, has followed. Gerard O’Neill, chairman of Amarach, the research agency, joins us. By the end of this year it is predicted that 20% of the 900 million euro Irish advertisement revenue will be spent online but the challenge here is that nearly half of that goes into search, into Google and social media sites like Facebook. When people advertise products on your Facebook pageyou are being sold as a produce to advertisers via Facebook. So traditional media, broadcasting and print, is losing revenue through the recession, through a drop in sales for newspapers and more significantly by the movement of media revenue out of content and into search. O’Neill talks about the absentee landlords of Google and Facebook who are stripping revenue from content creators in Ireland.
With over 2 million of us using Facebook more and more money is being spent marketing us there rather than radio, TV and newspapers but the end result is that money is not then going into media companies here producing our radio, television and print media. How traditional media fights back and finds its economic and business connection with audiences in a digital age will be a recurrent theme of our series as its one of the key issues in the national and international media landscape.
Its really interesting that so far the only company that has said a blanket NO to us in our detailed and very polite requests for interviews and access is Google, who as you know are based here in Dublin at Barrow St and are a big employer in the city. Google’s reply, when I said we were talking to media companies, was pointedly ‘but you do know we’re not a media company’. Which most of us will find a little surprising. They mean they don’t make content but in many ways they are the glue in the heart of the digital media business and media landscape. They are how media content is being found, shared and how media audiences/users are being marketed for advertisement. Their revenue comes from media advertisement money and is directly linked to the transformation of the media world. Its a shame that a company that is so central to our media life, and to the sharing of knowledge, is so private about its own work. But they are not alone. I once shared a conference platform in Hillversum, the Netherlands with Apple on podcasting and the classic moment was when a member of the audience, all radio professionals, asked ‘can you talk to us about the future, where things are going?’ to while Apple guy number 1 replied ‘we can’t talk about the future, period’. We all understand there are issues of confidentiality but a sense of openness would be helpful from some of the companies who dominate and shape our media and communications world
So our lead in this week is RTE’s decision to close the London Office, which is one of those stories which is bubbling away since it was announced and will probably get bigger as the closure happens post August. Given our much we interact with the UK we are exploring why RTE took the decision to end London rather than explore cuts and savings in other part of output or even share it across regional and foreign news output? What do you think? Do you value RTE being present in London or do you think it can be covered from Dublin and Belfast which is what the newsroom is saying? We talk to Cillian de Paor, who is acting head of news and current affairs and get the reaction of people like Pat Loughrey, former BBC Director of Nations and Regions. We also ask TV3 CEO David McRedmond for his view and in both cases you may be surprised by what they say.
One of the things we’re doing in the series is adding additional content post the transmission in the form of longer even full-length interviews. We did this twice with episode 1, with a long cut of both the Bob Collins and Hugh Linehan interviews and we plan to do the same within our very limited resources with episode 2 starting with that Cillian de Paor interview. Its all at www.rte.ie/radio1/themediashow
We’ll post links to podcasts and news soon. But keep in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. We may not be based in Montrose but that RTE email gets directly to us. If it is post do send it here to Athena Media, Adelaide Chambers, Peter St Dublin 8 rather than RTE - that’s faster!.