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Journalism in twentieth-century Ireland
Author: Mark O’Brien

This book examines the history of journalists and journalism in twentieth century Ireland. While many media institutions have been subjected to historical scrutiny, the professional and organisational development of journalists, the changing practices of journalism, and the contribution of journalists and journalism to the evolution of modern Ireland have not. This book rectifies this deficit by mapping the development of journalism in Ireland from the late 1880s to today. Beginning with the premise that the position of journalists and the power of journalism are products of their time and are shaped by ever-shifting political, economic, technological, and cultural forces it examines the background and values of those who worked as journalists, how they viewed and understood their role over the decades, how they organised and what they stood for as a professional body, how the prevailing political and social atmosphere facilitated or constrained their work, and, crucially, how their work impacted on social change and contributed to the development of modern Ireland. Placing the experiences of journalists and the practice of journalism at the heart of its analysis it examines, for the first time, the work of journalists within the ever-changing context of Irish society. Based on strong primary research – including the previously un-consulted journals and records produced by the many journalistic representative organisations that came and went over the decades – and written in an accessible and engaging style, this book will appeal to anyone interested in journalism, history, the media, and the development of Ireland as a modern nation.

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Mark O’Brien

This chapter examines the seemingly unending revelations of political, religious, and financial corruption that dominated the 1990s. It surveys the banking and policing scandals that dominated this decade and examines the struggles that journalists engaged in to expose this corruption. It also devotes considerable attention to the church scandals that were finally exposed by journalists – in particular the child abuse scandal that was to change forever the relationship between the once all-powerful Catholic Church and journalism.

in The Fourth Estate
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Mark O’Brien
in The Fourth Estate
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Mark O’Brien
in The Fourth Estate
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Mark O’Brien

This chapter surveys the media and journalistic landscape of early twentieth century Ireland. It examines the main national, provincial, and periodical titles, and what journalistic life was like as new technology and social developments prompted growth in the newspaper industry. It examines the impact that the new journalism had in Ireland, particularly how it prompted lobby groups to campaign against what were referred to as objectionable publications. It also examines the work environment and routines of journalists, the role of female journalists, early attempts to professionalise journalism through the establishment of the Association of Irish Journalists, and debates about the education of journalists.

in The Fourth Estate
Mark O’Brien

This chapter examines how, in the early 1900s, Irish journalists organised themselves into an association that examined contentious issues such as salaries, employment conditions, the social status of journalists, the place of women in journalism, and whether trade unionism was appropriate for journalists. Against the backdrop of the Great Lockout, the First World War, and the 1916 Rising this nascent organisation (the Irish Journalists’ Association) allowed journalists to discuss contentious issues amongst themselves. However, the development of the association was hampered by divisive debates about the role of journalists in society and the bid for national independence by physical force.

in The Fourth Estate
Mark O’Brien

This chapter examines how a conservative climate impacted on journalism in the newly independent Free State. It surveys the moral crusades against what was viewed as vulgar journalism and the lobbying by vigilance associations to cleanse journalism of content, such as crime reporting, that was considered undesirable. It examines the impact the Censorship of Publications Act 1929 had on journalism by looking at the Waterford Standard case of 1929 and the lesser-known ‘kissing case’ of 1937 – both of which had a long-lasting chilling effect on journalism in Ireland – particularly in relation to media coverage of certain types of crime.

in The Fourth Estate
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Mark O’Brien

This chapter examines the development of trade unionism for journalists and the impact it had on professional solidarity by examining the development of the National Union of Journalists in Ireland, which established a Dublin branch in 1926. The union provided a focal point for the resolution of many issues affecting journalists and journalism including the protection of sources, free speech, and employment conditions. In 1947 the union secured the first industry-wide agreement between a journalists’ representative organisation and newspaper proprietors and from then the NUJ was central to understanding the development of journalism in Ireland.

in The Fourth Estate
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Mark O’Brien

This chapter examines the 1950s, a decade of rancorous division among journalists. Alongside economic depression and political instability and against the backdrop of the Cold War came church-fuelled allegations of communism within Dublin journalism. The red-scare that followed exposed deep divisions within the formally untied ranks of the union and the declaration of a republic in 1949 led some journalists to object to being represented by a London-based trade union. Thus emerged the short-lived, but extremely divisive, Guild of Irish Journalists. It was, in some respects, a last attempt by political parties and the church to re-assert control over journalists in Ireland.

in The Fourth Estate
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Mark O’Brien

This chapter surveys the state of journalism prior to the 1960s. Long criticised for being stagnant and uncritical, journalism during this period was, more than anything else, a reflection of the influence of interest groups and the Catholic Church. But there were some positive developments also: the Irish News Agency provided a training ground for many future, influential, journalists and The Bell provided a rare outlet for critical journalism. Other issues were also pertinent: the lack of education, poor pay and conditions, the poor public perception of journalists, and the legacy of wartime censorship all shaped journalism during this period.

in The Fourth Estate