WEB Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave today apologised after suggesting Irish Independent news coverage was influenced by an advertiser.
During a press conference at the 40,000 capacity Web Summit event in Lisbon, Portugal, the businessman was asked by Irish Independent Technology Editor Adrian Weckler whether his own, often outspoken views about Irish current affairs had hurt Web Summit's business in Ireland, for example with the IDA (Industrial Development Authority).
In response, Mr Cosgrave said his stances on various issues had not hurt Web Summit "in the slightest" and had actually “helped tremendously”.
Pressed on whether the IDA, an early partner in Web Summit events, is at this year's event in Lisbon, Mr Cosgrave said he did not know.
He then told assembled reporters: "Adrian is the tech editor of the largest newspaper in Ireland and fiercely protective of one of their largest advertisers, which is the Irish development agency."
However, at the end of the press conference he offered an apology, suggesting that the claim against the journalist had been made in jest.
"I'd like to apologise to Adrian for teasing him a little," he said.
Speaking afterwards, Irish Independent Editor Cormac Bourke said he was happy the record had been set straight.
"The editorial independence of Irish Independent journalists is something we take extremely seriously,” he said. “We are fiercely proud of the record of journalists like Adrian Weckler in reporting without fear or favour."
The IDA is not a significant advertiser with the Irish Independent, or any Irish media organisation.
Its advertising budget is focused on marketing Ireland abroad as a place to do business. It does relatively little, if any, advertising domestically.