Sunday 15 September 2019

AdLib: Referendum tops news story charts

INM photographer Gerry Mooney's winning photo of Fine Gael TDs Josepha Madigan, Kate O'Connell, Maria Bailey and Hildegarde Naughton on International Women's Day Photo: Gerry Mooney
INM photographer Gerry Mooney's winning photo of Fine Gael TDs Josepha Madigan, Kate O'Connell, Maria Bailey and Hildegarde Naughton on International Women's Day Photo: Gerry Mooney

Michael Cullen

The Government decision to go ahead with a referendum on repealing the Eight Amendment to the Constitution allowing abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy was the top news story in Ireland in January, the latest Cultural Index report by Core Research shows. The index measures the level of public engagement with national news stories.

Core Research's strategic planner Finian Murphy says 76pc of people were aware of the decision to go to the polls in May, with 78pc seeing the news as "important".

Young families and elderly people felt the story impacted on them the most. While women were more engaged by the news, 71pc of men saw it as either important/very important.

Murphy expects the referendum to have a greater impact than the Marriage Equality referendum in 2015. He believes the tone of the debate will determine the extent to which people will engage. The second biggest story in January was the case in Belfast Crown Court with Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding facing rape charges.

While broadcast and print media only reported on the facts from the courtroom, commentary on social media increased awareness of the case. Young adults were less aware, yet they were more likely to see it as an important story. Core's survey of 1,000 respondents found that 67pc of women and 55pc of men considered the story important.

The sudden death of Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan at the age of 46 was voted the third most engaging story last month, with 90pc of homes with teens and adults living with their parents most interested. In fourth place were stories centred on gangland murders in Dublin's inner city with a score of 55.7, down from a peak of 69 last February.

The death of a homeless person last month recorded a 53.9 score. However, while the housing and homelessness crisis continues, it seems more people are becoming desensitised to the issue. Child safety online and the debate surrounding youngsters' access to smartphones and social media platforms claimed a score of 51.4 - largely driven by older families and teens.

Eir pulling out of the rural broadband tender, the 'Dancing With the Stars' reality show and stories on fears about how Ibuprofen could possibly harm the fertility of unborn baby girls were all deemed significant. The survey found that coverage given to Amazon's new Alexa voice-activated device, Facebook's newsfeed and Kylie Jenner's baby had little appeal.

The index labels elderly people as news junkies. People aged 40-59 with no kids were more aware of news stories in general. Homes with adults under the age of 40 and with no kids had less appetite for news - aside from the abortion debate and the Belfast rape trial.

- If marketers don't have clear consent for using existing consumer data or someone decides to opt out, companies will no longer be able to use email or text when contacting consumers for permission to send them commercial messages. That was the message from UK direct marketing expert Marc Michaels when addressing a 'Get Ready' briefing An Post hosted on the EU's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The new data rules, which come into effect at the end of May, mean that due to its opt-out facility, direct mail remains the main tool available to Irish marketers. Michaels said situations differ from business to business and it's up to companies to do the required analysis - but they must act fast. Door drops using unaddressed mail will remain outside the new GDPR rules.

- Independent News & Media (INM) photographer Gerry Mooney won the award for the best political photo of the year at the 40th Press Photographers Association of Ireland (PPAI) annual awards show. Mooney's photo was of Fine Gael TDs Josepha Madigan, Kate O'Connell, Maria Bailey and Hildegarde Naughton returning to Government Buildings on International Women's Day.

Mooney was also the winner of the portrait category, while INM's Steve Humphreys won the daily life and people category. The PPAI exhibition of 107 prints is on show at the RDS Library for two weeks and will then go on a nationwide tour.

- Those magnificent men and women in their flying machines will try to push the limits of human flight when the Red Bull Flugtag returns to Dun Laoghaire Harbour this summer. Handmade machines in the shape of tacos, prehistoric pterodactyls and Snoopy's cartoon gang plunge into the water from a nine-metre high flight deck. Anyone interested in taking part has until March 31 to apply. The family fun day is on Sunday, May 20.

- MCCP, the planning agency run by Kay McCarthy, is sponsoring the latest series of Marketing Institute breakfast talks. The new series kicked off yesterday at Fire Restaurant in the Mansion House with McCarthy speaking about the current trend of caring individualism where brand owners must be brave.

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