Given the dominance of Ireland’s news media by an incestuous group of like-minded individuals espousing a right-wing, moral-free ideology is anyone really surprised by this? From Julien Mercille at the Social Europe Journal:
“A study of Irish press coverage of austerity between 2008 and 2012 conducted at University College Dublin confirms that the media have been relentless cheerleaders for austerity. The case is so overwhelming that it may even surprise proponents of austerity. The full report is available here…
The study examined over 400 editorials and opinion pieces in Ireland’s three leading newspapers (Irish Times, Irish Independent and Sunday Independent). It found that only 12% of articles oppose fiscal consolidation, 55% support it, and 34% don’t voice any clear opinion. Worse, those numbers arguably overestimate the extent of the small opposition to austerity, because many of the articles opposing fiscal consolidation simply reject specific cuts without proposing any alternative policy. It is astonishing that only 3% of all articles support an increase in government spending, which could form the basis of a Keynesian stimulus programme. The media debate thus revolves around how best to implement austerity, without questioning it. Totalitarian regimes would surely be impressed by the effectiveness of this information control.
The media have not been shy about announcing their role in convincing the public that austerity is good for them. At the outset of the crisis, in November 2008, an editorial in the country’s newspaper of record, the Irish Times, called for a campaign to ‘educate’ the population about the need for austerity and ‘civic discipline’. The problem was that Irish people did ‘not appreciate the possible extent of the economic downturn’ because only 10% of them thought the budget should be tougher while two-thirds thought it should be less tough, according to a national poll. The editors thus concluded that ‘the Government will have a major job to do in educating public opinion about unpalatable economic realities and the need for civic discipline’.
The media have helped the government extensively in that task. One reason that explains why only about 12% of articles oppose austerity is that a large majority of writers come from elite institutions that favour austerity. Excluding regular journalists, 29% of the authors of opinion articles in the press on austerity are mainstream economists, 28% are working in the financial or corporate sector, and 20% are political officials in the three main political parties, which have all supported austerity. In short, the overwhelming majority of writers (77%) come from elite political or economic elite institutions. The remainder is composed of 9% of academics (excluding mainstream economists), 7% of members of progressive organisations, and only 3% are trade union officials. It is thus a very conservative cast of writers who are allowed to take part in the debate in the national media. Elite sectors dominate, but institutions like academia and trade unions are also relatively conservative, further reducing the number of progressive ideas.
After five years of austerity, there might be a small space opening up in the mainstream media for slightly more critical views, because the failure of that strategy can’t be hidden indefinitely. It is now becoming more common knowledge that fiscal consolidation in a downturn does not succeed in reviving an economy. Nevertheless, the alternative media remain the best outlets to read and write about the truth, such as the excellent blog Notes on the Front written by Michael Taft.”
Please take some time to read the whole article.