As I write it’s Christmas Eve and I’m reluctant to intertwine the arrival of the saviour of the world with the stinky world of journalism, but there are a couple of examples of how stories should NOT be reported that cry out to heaven for comment.
Stinky Story 1: The Irish Times a day or two ago had an article which, in keeping with that paper’s anti-republican stance, tries very hard to link the secret world of child sexual abuse with the secret world of IRA operations during the Troubles. The implication is that the same sort of thought process goes into both areas of activity and the same sort of thinkers work well in both. Since the article doesn’t tell me that the writer is a qualified psychiatrist/psychologist, I’m not going to conclude, as some might, that his article shows him to be a complete idiot. I’ll settle for guessing he’s a half-wit.
Stinky Story 2: This one’s from yesterday’s Daily Mail. Ah yes, the Daily Mail, the comfort blanket for all those who enjoy slippping into a nice warm prejudice at some point in the day. “Revealed – The full chilling story of how Gerry Adams lied to protect his paedophile brother – and helped him work with children”. Got that? None of this rubbish about being innocent until proven guilty – ‘paedophile brother’. And the bit about ‘helped him work with children’ – you know, helped the paedophile in his pursuit of prey.
Maybe there’s a new dawn coming when journalism of this sort will be used in media classes to show students how NOT to go about covering a story. But if we look at the Irish media’s treatment of the Murphy Report and now the Liam Adams case, you can see that such a dawn may be a long time coming. Christmas, mercifully, will come with tomorrow’s dawn, which means we’re all safe for at least twenty-four hours. Nollaig shona duit…