Shanahan on media priorities

Kate Shanahan, a TV and radio producer and lecturer in the DIT School of Media, has a piece in the ‘Think Tank’ slot on the [paywalled] Sunday Times opinion pages today. The headline is ‘Media can’t chase after squirrels’. The piece chastises the media for following the shiny stories from hour to hour instead of staying focused and providing depth on the important stories over long periods.

I largely agree with her until she begins her conclusion…

“In the Irish context, we may prioritise news values as they apply to the current crisis.

A story about Ivor Callely’s expense claims should not overshadow one about a semi-state that has squandered millions, such as Fas.”

Let’s not forget that the Ivor Callely story is not your average expenses story. It’s not about him being kicked out of the Seanad and going to the courts. It’s not about him claiming travel expenses from a house in Cork which wasn’t his principle residence.

It’s about him allegedly using forged documents to claim money from the taxpayer-funded parliament. That would be fraud.

That’s serious.

Dismiss your politicians’ apparent financial discrepancies as small-fry because it’s only a few quid here and there and watch it happen again and again. Then watch that attitude permeate through society and into – amongst other places – semi-state bodies. “Fair play to him, sure wouldn’t we all do it?”. Well, no.

When it comes to public representatives – those charged with giving direction and providing moral and political leadership – we shouldn’t care how many figures follow the currency symbol.

Ivor Callely isn’t a squirrel… he’s a… let’s not forget that.

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