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3 July 2008 Edition

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Media View

WIMBLEDON: Booing ‘Johnny Foreigner’

WIMBLEDON: Booing ‘Johnny Foreigner’

Recession chic

BY the time you read this, it will be Day 9 in the Recession House and already I am suffering serious recession fatigue
Every Irish newspaper I open, radio show tune into, TV news bulletin turn on or even some websites I click on are recession obsessed.
The Sunday papers were the worst as they collectively decided that, because the ESRI singled out 1983 as the last year a recession “happened”, that it is okay to do their “back to the future” articles. Cue long yawn.
It was The Irish Times last Saturday that gave a full page in the Weekend Review to the recession with their “Back to the future” headline and a picture of potential 1980s emigrants queuing outside the US Embassy in Dublin. Thankfully, the Mail on Sunday only gave it one page with an article by former 1980s Fine Gael minister Alan Dukes; the Sunday Tribune gave it five pages (three in the main paper and two in the business section); topped by the six pages in the Sunday Independent titled “The Recession – Suddenly it’s official.”
It seems trivial to mention it but there was not much discussion in the weekend media regarding the effects of the recession, where already this year thousands of people are losing their jobs and houses while thousands of families on the margin of deprivation will now be plunged into poverty.
For a long time now An Phoblacht has highlighted the Sinn Féin analysis that the economy was too dependent on construction, that workers weren’t being trained and skilled to adapt to a fast-changing economy, and that cartels of developers, retailers and banks were profiteering hugely by over-charging, over-lending and endlessly speculating, and that the business community were not investing in the next decades of jobs. Now it seems we were right on all counts. It’s a cheap jibe but I couldn’t resist it.
Rather than face this reality, it’s much better to discuss recession fashion – or as it’s called in some British newspapers, “recession chic”. Hopefully, the mullet is not about to make a return.
As a Southern resident I seriously considered moving North (for about half an hour) as the media up there are – for now – recession-free. As I pondered temporary migration, a quick scroll through the Irish News and News Letter websites makes me think again as one paper seems obsessed with the ebb and flow of the Ulster GAA championship (I have resigned myself to Kerry and Kilkenny winning again) while the News Letter’s extensive guide to the Marching Season and Twelfth of July e-mag, which while being a fascinating read and insight into how the emerging internet technologies are affecting the Orange traditions is not that inviting for a gutless Southern Fenian.
However, in many ways the Six Counties is more culturally diverse than its Southern counterpart. Take, for example, the ease of getting a copy of The Spectator or Times Literary Supplement in Belfast, where it is on many news-stands while in Dublin it is a weary journey to Eason’s on O’Connell Street.

FOR NOW, the only recession-free sanctuary is the sport on TV, and with Euro 2008 there was not a mullet in sight. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was so great about this year’s coverage of the championships but with Spain victors my TV attention began to wander first to Glastonbury and then Wimbledon and then it clicked: no English participants.
I thought I was imagining British xenophobia or at best BBC patronising when I watched the Glastonbury coverage but the presenters were slagging off the US acts for their accents, inability to pronounce ‘bury’ and their musical style.
Then I tuned into Wimbledon on Monday for the most bizarre two hours of live TV in some time as Andy Murray groaned his way through a five-set match with Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
It was bad enough watching an increasingly partisan crowd – they booed Gasquet because he went on a toilet break after three hours of play, or the umpire who never asked the crowd to be quiet – but the coverage particularly of commentator Andrew Castle was straight out of the ‘We won the 1966 World Cup/We don’t like Johnny Foreigner’ school of journalism and was just as unacceptable now as it was in the 1980s. Even my fellow housemates (initially Murray fans) ended up cheering Gasquet, which was no mean feat.

ANOTHER 1980s name popped up in a media context this week. It was former Thatcher minister Norman Fowler, who is now Lord Fowler and head of the House of Lords Communications Committee.
The committee has produced a readable report on media ownership and in particular who controls the news. The chapter titles give the flavour and include “The case for media ownership regulation,” “The importance of public service broadcasting,” and he even takes a swipe at Maggie’s old ally, Rupert Murdoch, whose NewsCorp papers have a 35.5 per cent share of British newspapers sold today.
The report can be downloaded by visiting

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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