There are two distinct forms of media covering this election in Ireland. There is the sort such as this, online in many forms, that wears its heart on its sleeve and while trying to present cogent argument does so through a prism of its own political leanings. Nothing wrong with that at all and isn’t diversity good.
Then there is the mainstream media that is very carefully governed by election legislation and is required to provide balance and fairness. This can be easier said than done when the other side of the desk is occupied by a political candidate determined to get their very biased point across. Nonetheless it is what needs to be achieved.
Perhaps the most enlightening of all the debates thus far was last night’s RTE Eleventh Hour show hosted by Daire O’Brien and with foreign media representatives framing as clear a perspective as could be hoped for on matters as complex as the bailout. Will Hutton on Morning Ireland today was another who told it straight, without spin, ironically presenting a better valediction of the left wing desire to seriously challenge the burden we are under than has been possible through party channels.
The voters attracted to the first kind of media are aware of the slant they will be getting. I certainly don’t hide the voting preference of this site.
Those drawn or merely conditioned to absorb the mainstream voice do so on the basis they will be given an unbiased telling of the way things are, at least insofar as that is possible.
Sometimes though the lines can become a little blurred. The wife of the political correspondent of one major news outlet is running for election and the brother of the moderator in tonight’s last set piece debate is a front bench spokesman for a major party. Neither would lead inevitably towards a sense of bias but perception is critical in the modern political arena, and I’m not sure that either politician, either journalist or the general public are really best served by this state of affairs.
Yes we are a small country where everybody knows everybody but if a question or an interruption is framed in a particular way tonight, who is to say it might not have a vital impact on the way our country develops over the next five years. That places a real pressure on the broadcaster. Should it be so?