It Says Here – in the Workmans Club next week, talking about journalism

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Many have asked me why a journalist would take the stage in a Dublin club to talk about what he does all day, and admittedly it might seem strange.

But rather than hiding in sub-zero temperatures (outdoors, not indoors) in Stockholm, I see that stage as another platform for dialogue in our multimedia world.

It’s also a different way of engaging with people – eye to eye, in a dark room, in a public forum.

I have no fears on that front, because I believe journalism is no longer about me broadcasting to you – it’s about being part of a conversation.

Too often, journalists ignore their critics and do not engage. It’s not always pleasant, but I always try to respond. I think it has made me better and more accountable at what I do.

And that is where I came up with the idea of It Says Here.

“Our free press reflects our democracy”- Billy Bragg, ‘It Says Here’

Billy Bragg – It Says Here

When I grew up I used to read the Evening Press and the Evening Herald every day – we’d buy the Herald, and then when the family was finishing reading it my brother or I would be sent scurrying across to our grandparents’ house, where we’d swap it for the Evening Press.

Before you left with the paper of Dev under your arm, you’d always be grilled by a grandparent about what you thought about what you’d read.

More often you’d be hammered for missing the nuances and given an earful to balance whatever you’d said, before being sent on your way.

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And despite college certificates and communications theory, that was where I learned most of what I know about journalism and media, and I want to share it with you.

Because we’ve never been surrounded by more information than we are now, and it has never been more important to be informed.

Politicians, lobby groups, companies sand media organisations all spend massive amounts of money trying to reach us with their messages.

They tell us their version of the truth (which is often very different from everyone else’s) and then leave us to sort out the mess of conflicting messages.

What I plan to do next Tuesday is share with you some of the tools journalists use, both good and bad, in order to make you a more savvy media consumer.

There’s a lot of talk about “good” journalism”, more about “bad” journalism and accusations of “lazy” journalism in Irish media are thrown around like snuff at a wake.

I’ll do my best to show you what I believe to be the right way to go about covering a story, and what tactics are used to make sure I don’t get the truth out of it by those who want it kept secret.

I’ll explode a few myths around the Machiavellian intelligence of our politicians (never suspect a conspiracy where stupidity is a more likely explanation), and try to answer any and all questions you have about the trade, libelling as many people as possible in the proces and then denying it all.

Because journalism is not art – it is a trade.

An article, however significant, is not the Mona Lisa – in it’s proper form, it is the equivalent of a car service for our democracy.

And on Tuesday night at 2000 I’ll be telling you who the cowboys are, how to spot them – and how to call them out.

So come down, talk to me, question me, discuss, listen and leave with more questions than you came in with.

Then go find the answers for them.

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