“The World Of Journalism Is Broken” Says Press Ombudsman Peter Feeney

  • Declining circulation & advertising have hit print journalism
  • Online news sources growing in influence, but print journalism still provides greater depth of coverage
  • Ombudsman acknowledges failure of Irish Press Council to adequately encompass online journalism

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Peter Feeney, who has been Press Ombudsman since September 2014, made the remarks in a talk given to students at Rathmines College of Further Education¬†yesterday. Mr. Feeney said that the “business model” of journalism has radically altered in recent years, with more and more people relying on online sources for news. However, he pointed out the difference between the way people use online and traditional printed news sources. People tend to turn to online sources for a “quick read” of the latest updates, whereas print news sources, he maintained, provide more space, depth of coverage and background coverage of news.

Despite the prevalence of online news publications, Mr. Feeney acknowledged that there was to date an inadequate representation of this in the membership of the Press Council Of Ireland (PCI). There are currently only three online-only publications which are members of the PCI, although the Ombudsman said negotiations for the inclusion of a fourth, the Dundalk-based Talk Of The Town, are at an advanced stage. He pointed to an historic reluctance on the part of print newspapers who were members of the PCI to grant online publications the equal status to print that membership would imply. Additionally he pointed out that some publications, which have an outsider or anti-establishment stance, would not wish to be members of the self-regulatory body of the press in Ireland.

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