Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Category: Media

Pitchfork bemoans the absense of modern-day gonzo journalism

Gonzo was great when it emerged because there was nothing else like it, though now that there is we have no need for it, at least for its own sake. But the essence of gonzo -- the risk-taking, the bucking of the rules -- is missing, especially in the fields this piece is concerned with, where a bit of adventure would go a long way. That essense is the reason why I read Digitiser religiously in the '90s, even though I wasn't a gamer. #link


This Boring Headline Is Written for Google

On the so-called death of the art of headline writing, the news of which has been greatly exaggerated. I think we will be seeing more dual headlines, to compensate for the linguistic formality of search engine algorithms, but that's as bad as it's going to get -- as if it isn't bad enough already [c/o SimonWaldman.net]. #link


Blogging the Changing Media Summit

Seems like a bit of a waste of time to me, with all the tired talk of 'leveraging' this and 'monetising' that. The most important thing I can glean from it all is that the old media vanguard seems determined to maintain their status quo and bend the web to their own will, completely oblivious to the fact that they're hopelessly transparent in their motivations and machinations, and that the web and its users are already leaving them behind. The quality (re: podcasting, especially) might not be there yet, but at this stage it's the freedom that's more important. (See also: Tom Coates expands upon and clarifies his comments re: social media, which gives some more context to the argument.) #link


Irish Newspaper Archives

This is great. But it brings up a point: if the web is supposed to be a library, information like that found in newspaper archives should really be free. It's only a matter of time, I guess, but things like this would be better operated as public services, not merely as profit-making businesses. Governments take note [c/o ResearchBuzz]. #link


The year of the digital citizen

In 2005, tragedy served as a catalyst for a technologically-empowered citizenry to take some measure of control over the media. Small potatoes in the big scheme of things, yes, but nonetheless incredibly significant. What we need to see now, of course, is what the public can do with this newfound influence when there is no major event to react to. #link


Niche magazines on MetaFilter

Though they've neglected to make a distinction between niche and trade publications, there's some pretty crazy stuff here worth a look. #link


Missing in Action

Out for a walk this morning with the iPod, I was listening to a recent episode of On The Media which just happened to feature a short interview with former war correspondent Richard Gizbert, who was — allegedly — fired by ABC News for his refusal to cover the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gizbert is no milquetoast; a veteran of warzones in Somalia, Rwanda and Chechnya, he merely decided that he’d done his bit, and chose his family and well being over the story and the danger that comes with it.
It’s ironic how I listened to this programme just hours before The Guardian confimed that its Baghdad correspondent Rory Carroll is missing, presumably kidnapped. (BBC News has some more information.) Aside from being shot in crossfire or caught in a road bombing, it’s the worst case scenario for any warzone journalist; it’s the kind of situation that no doubt prompted Gizbert’s decision.
As a Guardian reader familiar with Carroll’s work (particularly his vivid dispatches from South Africa during his previous posting) there’s a visceral kick to news like this, something only compounded by learning that he’s a fellow Irishman, who worked his way up through the ranks like any other journalist. A decade ago he was likely where myself and my classmates are right now. I can even see one of my collegues following his path someday. I can picture this same thing happening to one of my friends, and it gives me a chill down my spine.
I don’t know Rory Carroll but, in a weird way, I feel like I should. Right now, however, I can’t do much but wish for his safe return and hope he’ll get through this unscathed.
Update 20/10: The Guardian has announced that Rory Carroll was freed and is apparently unharmed. Tomorrow’s paper I’m sure will have more on the story; he’s not the only person connected to the Saddam Hussein trial who’s been kidnapped this week, after all.


New-look Guardian unveiled

There's a PDF of the front page here. Hmm. I don't know. The blue strap masthead seems a bit too close to the relaunched Independent for my linking. And typographically? It was close to perfection anyway; I don't see why they had to go and mess with it. Strikes me as a step backwards on first impression. What do you think? #link


Oh My News, Where Art Thou?

I’ve been trying to find information — any information — about an alleged suicide attempt at my local DART station this afternoon.
Whether it was a suicide attempt or not (that’s what the staff at Pearse station reportedly relayed to commuters, at least) the incident was serious enough to cause suspension of part of the network on the northside for a significant part of the evening rush hour. (I know this because my mum was caught up in it on leaving work, and had to walk across the city to get a bus home instead.) This might be common on complex metro networks in other cities, but the DART is a one-route service; any major delays are out of the ordinary.
So one would expect to find a report about this on the web this evening, or a ‘breaking news’ headline on one of the newspaper websites. But do you think I can find any? Not at all. RTÉ News, the Irish Independent and The Irish Times are all coming up blank on this story. Not even a one-liner, even though it was briefly mentioned on TV at the 6pm bulletin (which I didn’t catch myself). The most I could find anywhere was a travel alert update on the Irish Rail website that referred to an ‘incident’ having occurred this afternoon at Raheny, but nothing more (the message has since been removed from the site).
It’s perplexing, particularly so when one sees reports of a derailment on the Luas line that occurred many hours later, and involved an empty tram at the end of the line. I don’t see why that’s deserving of recogniton while this isn’t, without getting into accusations of southside/northside snobbery.
I thought the web was supposed to expedite the breaking of news in cases like this, not leave us in the dark. Then again, a major part of what my thesis is about is that the mainstream media are recognised as having shortcomings (in terms of the stories and events they cover, etc.) that can, and should, be addressed by news consumers. The blogosphere acts when the news media are lacking – and in this case, they’re definitely lacking.
And that’s why I’m addressing it here. Pray tell, oh my news, where art thou?
Update 25/8: At last, something — a NIB on page 18 of this morning’s Irish Independent:
> A man in his 30s was killed after he fell in front of a train yesterday.
> The man fell in front of a Drogheda-Dublin commuter train at Raheny at 2:10pm. No Dart trains ran north of Harmonstown for some hours. Trains to Drogheda were delayed.
Still nothing on the web, though, even 20 hours later. My complaint still stands: the internet is supposed to expedite the provision of news, but in this instance our mainstream media are clearly lacking.


The Daily Mail Watch

Because somebody needs to keep an eye on them. I can't even touch the rag myself; their newsprint has cooties. #link


James Naughton: Why I have serious doubts about the 'citizen reporters'

He finds it 'macabre' that the first thing someone does after an explosion is to photograph the scene, but isn't that what photojournalists do for a living? What message does that send: if you're an amateur you're being ghoulish, but if you're getting paid for it you're providing a public service? I understand the point Naughton is trying to make, but really, what precludes someone who doesn't work as a journalist from reporting like one? Where's the line that separates a freelancer from a 'lay' person? It's a fair question. #link