ballyshannon, donegal, irish newspapers online, ireland, irish history, irish literature, irish famine - Linking Canada and Ireland - Linking Canada and Ireland

"Paper, paper, who owns the paper?"

Ownership of the media, more particularly ownership concentrated in a few hands, has been a subject of concern in recent years in both Canada and Ireland. In Canada the issue is centred on cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations in cities and regions.

The danger of domination by one owner, one family, or one group of owners is that what the public read and see may be what the dominant owner wishes them to read and see. Blatant examples of this are television newscasts in the United States favouring one political element to the exclusion of all others. Happily the same does not apply to the same extent in Ireland. However, concentration of newspaper ownership presents the threat that it might.

What brings the matter to attention is the forthcoming sale of six newspapers in Ulster proper, three in Belfast, one in Derry, and two in Donegal.

Until the 1990s Donegal could claim local ownership of "The People's Press" and the "Donegal Democrat". They were bought by "The Derry Journal", which in turn was acquired in 1998 by the Mirror Group of newspapers, and the following year, 1999, became owned by Trinity Mirror Pcl when Mirror and Trinity merged.

Now Trinity Mirror wants out, and also wants to divest itself of the Belfast based "Newsletter" which also publishes the "Belfast News", and an agriculture newspaper "Farming Life".

The "Newsletter" is the oldest newspaper in Ireland, dating back to 1737, and the "Derry Journal" is the second oldest, dating back to 1772.

The reported asking price for the six is 57 million euros, and among prospective buyers is Gannett, the United States publisher of "USA Today" and of a number of U.S. and British papers.

At one time differences in viewpoints were plainly recognizable in the Dublin morning dailies. "The Irish Press" was the paper of Fianna Fail, the "Irish Independent" generally favoured Fine Gael, and "The Irish Times" spoke for a dwindling band of West Britons while continuing to supply the best written articles of all three.

Now the "Press" is gone, the "Times" has long since lost its ascendancy outlook, and the "Independent" tempers its views to the prevailing political winds.

As a matter of interest, the "Newsletter" is unionist and the "Derry Journal" is nationalist. Not even the Trinity could handle that.


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