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Media and socio-cultural communication
THIS ARTICLE EXAMINES THE evolution of parliamentary and political reporting in Ireland and builds on earlier work by Foley (1993) and Horgan (2001). It considers the changing nature of Irish political journalism and the loss of influence of the Parliamentary Press Gallery and its constituent part, the Political Correspondents Group. This analysis takes place against a backdrop of continuing very high interest in politics in Ireland. During the 2007 general election, the television debate between Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny, the leaders of the two main political parties, had an average audience of 941000 – a national audience share of 63.3 per cent and a reach during the programme of 1.4 m viewers. The debate between the leaders of the other political parties – broadcast the previous evening to the main debate – had a national share of 38.3 per cent or 581000 viewers. In addition, the RTÉ website, which had a dedicated area for election material, received just over 1.5 m hits on the day of the main leaders’ debate. Party political broadcasts, regardless of their impact, were also watched by sizable audiences – the 16 broadcasts had an average viewership of 500000 people. Opinion poll research undertaken in 2009 showed that six in ten of all adults could recall party political broadcasts from the previous general election (Rafter, 2009). These are all significant figures.
Rafter, K.: Run Out of the Gallery: the Changing Nature of Irish Political Journalism. Irish Communications Review, Vol. 11, 2009.