Daily Irish Mail, Saturday 11th November

Daily Irish Mail v 4

Originally uploaded by Editor_Tupp.

The Raw Notes on this paper are now available on the wiki. This represents the full paper, as opposed to the Irish Times graph below, which only covers the Home News pages for Friday.

You’ll see that the graph on the right appears to have a considerable slice of actual journalism shown. Don’t forget that this makes no distinction between good and bad journalism.

The numbers here are flattered by the reliance of the Mail on stories of the ‘Isn’t it awful’ school, all of which I have included. And they are awful, and real stories. But the relish that they bring to their coverage is distasteful. If there’s a mother of a dead child to be milked for tragedy, or a mourning community to be paraded, the Mail are fearlessly to the fore. In addition I have classed Opinion columns as journalism for the purposes of this graph.

Journalism of actual originality and value is rather more scarce. In this edition, I would say there were two stories in news and then some on gardening at the back.

Note also that large red wedge, missing entirely from the Irish Times’ pie. This represents a number of articles which were nothing more than adverts for one commercial product or service or another.

I’ve rebaked the pie chart. Opinion now is broken out from journalism. I also broke out reprints of stories that appeared elsewhere. If you’d like to see the original pie chart referred to above, you can go to here


  • Celtictigger says:

    At the risk of pedantry, another useful metric (apart from a count of actual journalistic articles) would be a ratio of the number of column inches (or centimetres if you’re so inclined) given over to real news versus PR piffle and ‘scoop and paste’ reportage.

    Noam Chomsky is a regular user of the column inches statistic when comparing the level of reporting of piffle versus real news.

  • Celtictigger says:

    And every child wants to be Noam Chomsky when the grow up… (don’t they?)

  • Simon McGarr says:

    Its a good measurement- but I doubt Noam has to get his ruler out himself. He has thousands of Post-Grads to do that for him.

    But on reflection, I do think that opinion oughtn’t be lumped in with Journalism, so I’ll be baking a second pie breaking it out.

  • chekov says:

    “But on reflection, I do think that opinion oughtn’t be lumped in with Journalism, so I’ll be baking a second pie breaking it out.”

    Hear, hear. You could also sub-classify opinions according to stupidity. The “six year old child would be smart enough to recognise this as rubbish” metric would probably divide the market down the middle 😉

    Anyway, sorry I didn’t make it along to the westin – I got co-opted into a shopping trip with the missus. Still great work with this, the statistical breakdown is fascinating and I’m looking forward to seeing the various comparisons and the overall breakdowns.

    It’s interesting that, despite the fact that media commentary is fairly ubiquitous, these sort of empirical tests are really rare – I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an analysis of the Irish media.

  • Garreth says:

    Chekov, “an [empirical] analysis of the Irish media” would be a great idea, although the empiricist researcher-analysts would need lots of funding and time to do the job. As far as analysis of RTE television goes, I can recommend the work by a non-academic independent film maker, Bob Quinn. He and Lelia Doolin and Jack Dowling resigned on principle from their pensionable jobs at RTE 1 in 1970 and produced a groundbreaking book called “Sit down and be counted – the cultural evolution of a television station”. About ten years back Bob Quinn published a personal response to Irish television called Maverick. No footnotes, bibliography or academic waffle, just plain observation and comment. Academics are not the only people who can judge the media with perspicacity and wit. But, yes, we need empirical evaluation of the print media.

  • Simon McGarr says:

    Did you know Jack Dowling was my Grandfather? You can read my piece on Sit Down and Be Counted on tuppenceworth.

  • celtictigger says:

    Horrible mental image conjured up by Noam Chomsky ‘getting his ruler out’… .

    Take the point that Chomsky has some support. However a sampling of articles on a randomly selected page from a random paper of a Saturday would give a preliminary snapshot. Will dig out todays times and a ruler. Watch this space.

  • chekov says:

    “the empiricist researcher-analysts would need lots of funding and time to do the job”

    I don’t think that empirical research is the exclusive domain of professional academics with lots of time to spare and sophisticated analytical tools to deploy. I also don’t think that you have to produce a definitive analysis of the Irish media for the research to be worthwhile. I mean, the idea of taking a weekend’s output of print media and categorising them and counting them is empirical research. It’s something that I’ve never seen done before and it’s being carried out by bloggers who aren’t, as far as I know, professional media researchers and it has presumably been done in their spare time.

    Although it probably won’t end up in an academic journal, it doesn’t make the research any less interesting and the fact that it is being carried out in a blog format means that the methodology is being published as the research proceeds, allowing the reader to evaluate the various categorisation decisions as they go along. This is far more informative than the post-facto whitewash approach to methodology that is used by much published research.

    I’ve been aware for a long time that advertorials, copy-and-pasted press releases and rewritten reports of reports make up a major part of media output, but I’ve never had the time or energy to attempt to count such things. Thus, I think that such a categorisation is very interesting, especially when I think that the categories are as well chosen as they are here.

    “Academics are not the only people who can judge the media with perspicacity and wit. But, yes, we need empirical evaluation of the print media.”

    I agree. In fact I’d say that wit in academics is a pretty rare phenomenon. It’s just that I have a particular love of measuring things. I figure that unless you have some reasonably objective metrics, it’s difficult to separate your own prejudices from reality – and there is often a big gap, no matter who you are. I am also frequently irritated by the large number of blowhards (myers, harris, waters and so on) who make sweeping statements about the media all the time and make absolutely no effort whatsoever to validate their opinions by comparing them to reality. Therefore, I’m inherently fond of any analytic approach which includes an examination of media output as a central plank.

    However, while empirical research is crucial to evaluating media output, I don’t think that it’s all that useful in understanding how the media operates to produce that output, which is something that I’m also interested in. If you want to understand how that works, experience and participation or, failing that, first hand accounts and the associated insights are the best teachers.

    Thanks for the book reccomendations. I shall depart directly to amazon. I had never heard of either book before and I am delighted to learn of their existence.

    “Did you know Jack Dowling was my Grandfather? You can read my piece on Sit Down and Be Counted on tuppenceworth.”

    Good article, it sounds like a very interesting book. One of the terrible things about Ireland is that all of the interesting people in the post 1920 period were by and large on the losing side so they got whitewashed out of history.

  • […] Simon over at Tuppenceworth is getting a bee in his bonnet about the standard of Irish journalism. I have to agree. I am a Director of publicity for an international association for Information Quality professionals. Over the past year I have submitted a number of commentaries on issues such as the Electoral Register and the level of mis-medication that goes on in the healthcare system. Not ONCE has there been a journalist who has contacted me back on any topic, not even to say thanks but no thanks. It seems to be easier to trot out the easy soundbite than to actually research a topic (such as the Electoral Register issue – despite what Dick Roche says it is still an unmitigated disaster area and will NOT be clean come election because the fundamental root causes have not been addressed) and be in a position to ask hard questions. […]

  • Garreth says:

    Thanks for your considered comments, Chekov, and glad to hear that Jack Dowling was your grandfather. You seem to be a chip off the old block in thinking for yourself. I only met Bob Quinn, a couple of times in the mid 1970s, and consider him to be a courageous, imaginative self-thinking individual. A couple of years ago I did some amateur research on serious magazines and the lack thereof in contemporary Irish life. I could let you have a copy if you write to me. Garreth Byrne, Dromahair, Co. Leitrim

  • copernicus says:

    Jack Dowling was Simon’s grandfather.

  • Garreth says:

    Woops. Simon is a bigger chip off the old block.

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