Monday 19 February 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: We can't run scared of freedom

There is no guarantee that greater regulation of the internet would work, so we must come to terms with the future, says Eilis O'Hanlon

THOSE who work in the media like to think that they are more rational and informed than the great unwashed who pay their wages. In fact, they're prone to exactly the same outbursts of irrational panic and groupthink as the rest.

A case in point being last week's conference in Dublin on media diversity, organised by Labour MEP Nessa Childers. There were plenty of measured and informed contributions on the future of the media in Ireland, but the sense that leaked out from the conference was that the end was nigh; the portals of respectable journalism were being breached on one side by uber-wealthy proprietors strangling diversity and, on the other, by the uncouth and ignorant on the internet who dared to think that they could pick up a pen -- well, a mouse anyway -- without going through the long apprenticeships in the newsroom that more traditional journalists tend to regard with something akin to awe.

Listen to these Jeremiahs too long and you'd be forgiven for thinking that civilisation itself was crumbling, a feeling best summed up by Alan Crosbie, chairman of Thomas Crosbie Holdings Ltd -- the Cork- based media group whose umbrella covers such newspapers as the Irish Examiner and the Sunday Business Post, as well a plethora of local newspapers and radio stations -- who grabbed the headlines by claiming there was "a threat to humanity posed by the tsunami of unverifiable data, opinion, libel and vulgar abuse in the new media", which had "a capacity to destroy civil society".

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