Festival puts role of local newspapers in spotlight

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Other Voices, the iconic Dingle festival that has hosted the likes of Amy Winehouse, The National and St Vincent since it was founded in 2001, is best known for music.

Guests this year in the town’s St James’s Church included CMAT, Mick Flannery and Villagers – but only a small few people could attend those concerts, given the size of the venue. That didn’t matter, though, as the whole of Dingle turns into a series of venues for this December music extravaganza.

Alongside the concerts, the town hosts Ireland’s Edge, a series of talks and discussions that “celebrate what’s about to happen and about to disappear”.

This year’s theme was Trust Issues, with talks on arts, health issues, climate changes and international relations. Speakers included the Abbey Theatre’s Artistic Director, Caitríona McLaughlin; the US Ambassador Claire Cronin; and former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump, Fiona Hill.

The media was in the spotlight too, with a panel event titled Don’t Believe Everything You Read in the Papers, which featured Deputy Editor of The Tuam Herald and member of the Future of Media Commission, Siobhán Holliman. She participated alongside Siobhán Cronin, Editor of The Southern Star, and Sinéad Carroll, Editor of The Journal.

With historian and writer Christopher Kissane as moderator, they explored the relationship between readers and the media, and why it’s crucial to cover “non-sexy stories that impact people’s lives”, as Siobhán Holliman stressed.

Example she gave of these included local authority budget meetings, meetings to draft local development plans and policing meetings.

Rapid changes in the media landscape were also discussed.

“The digital transformation happened quickly, and things have really changed in local media in the last 20 years,” observed Siobhan Holliman.

Despite those changes, she and Siobhán Cronin of The Southern Star emphasised that the role of local papers remained the same; to present local news. That required journalists to attend court and local government meetings, which “is a resource-heavy policy and expensive”, said Siobhán Cronin, but crucial, to serve readers.

Pictured: Siobhan Holliman of the Future of Media Commission and the Tuam Herald responding to moderator Christopher Kissane at the event in Dingle.  Editors Siobhán Cronin and Sinéad Carroll were also on the panel. PHOTO: FIONA MORGAN.




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