It has been a busy two weeks since we started full time work on the new RTE Radio 1 series The Media Show, with presenter Brenda Power. There’s such a pile of topics, stories and developments every day in the world of global and Irish media that the challenge for us is to be both topical and original; to try and make sure that everyone feels this is a programme for them and that it is relevant, innovative and extremely open-minded. I quess we also want it to be a good and intelligent listen!
We’ve set up a radio essay in the programme called Mediawatch where we are inviting people to pitch 300 word audio opinion pieces which we record and which allow us to bring new voices and
ideas into the discussion around media. In episode one radio fanatic and general good guy Brian Greene has done a beautiful radio essay, with sound effects, on the joys of radio and its relevancy 100 years after its use in Titanic’s tragedy. It is a lovely two minutes thirty audio essay and sets the tone for the kind of ideas and voices we want to encourage. Next week we have a great piece by Cork woman Deirdre O Shaughnessy on the lack of regional voices, writers and accents, in her view, on national media. We’ve another piece coming in which is by an Irish citizen, born in India, who tackles the way Irish media talks and treats the concept of identity, race and belonging. For a country with our level of racial and ethnic diversity where is that all evident in the daily life of the media? Other topics include the very current question of how the media covers religion. Is groupthink a problem for more places than RTE ? (Given that that seems to be one of the core findings of the Anna Carragher BAI report on the PrimeTime Investigates programme on FR Reynolds).
I definitely want to hear from more people with pitches for the MediaWatch slot. It’s not an audio rant but an audio essay; a chance to use radio to tell a story about the media, both Irish and international and your very own personal take on it.
In talking to Brian Greene, who is an enthuastic leader in all things digital, he asked whether I would be blogging about producing the show. So that got me thinking about my own approach to transparency and I figure I need to try and share, as much as possible, how we are thinking about the show and how I am making decisions about its content as producer of the team in Athena Media and with Brenda herself.
This week we had intended the show would have a focus on digital journalism and explore the future of newspapers with people in the midst of trying to answer the question ‘ will the print version of papers die?’. By Tuesday with the leak of the BAI briefing document on the Carragher/Reynolds report in the Irish Times I was considering what impact that made on our first episode. By Tuesday night in watching the PrimeTime programme which covered extensively the leak and the leaked findings of the report (which are it has to be said extremely damaging for RTE) it was clear to me that we had to talk about ‘what happens when the media itself becomes the story? How good are we are covering ourselves?” and that changed the direction of the interviews we were doing on Wednesday and Thursday. Part of the difficulty when the media becomes the story (whether RTE re Reynolds, the Irish Times re Kate Fitzgerald case or Independent Newspapers re Denis O’Brien) is that it is difficult to stand outside and look at it neutrally. And it required specific consideration in the conversation about media ethics, regulation and guidelines. Guidelines, in all media, should, I think, cover specific protocols in what happens when your media organisation is the main news story. We have seen how challenging this is via the Levenson Inquiry in the UK (something we hope to cover fully in The Media Show later).
So episode one brings you a range of different topics from smartphones and media apps to a strong interview with the BAI chairman, Bob Collins, on the leak but more signficantly on the Right to Reply Scheme which is a public ‘Right to Reply’ Scheme launched by the BAI a year ago but which has not been used at all by the public. We raise the issue whether this is because the public don’t know anything about the scheme and whether the BAI and the broadcasters (as it impacts on all broadcasters not just RTE) have done enough to let the public know about the scheme and how they can or could use it. The ‘Right to Reply’ is when you believe your reputation has been damaged by something broadcast - which is untrue - and allows you with no cost to seek a reply and correction. It could be part of how broadcasters like RTE work to heal its relationship with the public and could avoid long complaints processes and legal action if someone can quickly and speedily get a correction and apology aired. What do you think? Listen in tonight to the show at 7.30 on RTE Radio 1. The podcast will be online on www.rte.ie/radio1/themediashow afterwards and we’re going to start posting the long cuts of interviews, starting with the Collins interview, on Monday. So while the on air version of the show is just a half an hour we have the ability to give you the full interviews so you can hear additional material without the limits of slot. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us here directly at Athena Media via email@example.com. My key mantra about this show and series is that it is for the public not the media and if in doubt on what we do that is what I put back as a question ‘what is the best approach for the public; what do listeners, readers and viewers think?’ .
Let me know.
And the first episode is just a beginning. We’re just shaping the series and have lots of things in the pipeline including a great series on inside media-houses from the Irish Times, Storyful to TV3. We’re looking for access to just about every influential media force you can think of and if we’re missing one of them let me know.
I am going to try and write a blog note regularly about the production of the show and will share your feedback too. Thanks for reading and hope you can listen.
Our twitter address is @athenamediaie and the hashtag we’re using for the series is #rtemediashow so please do use that so I can find all your comments!
Podcast online on RTE http://www.rte.ie/radio1/themediashow/
and our own site by Monday - and we’ll be posting full interviews from the series so starting with Bob Collins…lots more in that interview on Right to Reply and how it works.