I always think it's premature to have your list or review of a year gone by until it's finally over. For example, Sky News (alright hardly a shining example of new journalism but run with me on this) had their 2007 review cut and broadcast, yet already looks horribly dated, and incomplete in the wake of Benazir Bhutto's assassination.
For me, personally it was a good year, but one with plenty of disillusionment with my profession. It has been a terrible, terrible year for journalism, both nationally and internationally. A writer can get a book and a television special on the back of sensationalist claims she can't substantiate with any hard evidence. The death of a model is elevated by hacks in the D4 circuit to the point that the leader of the country feels compelled to send a representative to the funeral. These are the journalists who control what Irish people read - the ones who by day write hyperbole after hyperbole on the scurge of cocaine and alcohol but by night go to the trendiest Dublin hotspots. What's worse is that the lines between news and celebriy has become so blurred that they are interchangeable. Here in Ireland we have a terrible need to "keep up with the Jones'" - reality TV is a hit in the UK? Lets get Celebrities doing jigs, or going wild. People want to know about the rich and famous? Let's give Lorraine Keane a DAILY half hour show on gossip.
It's a sad state of affairs when gossip is given that sort of coverage, but then again it is TV3 giving it. The channel offers little of anything uniquely Irish, the only program I recall was the shoddy, cheap and exploitational "documentary" on Irish Debs ball culture.
We need to look long and hard at our priorities as a society, when there is such apathy about the highly questionable nature of our elected leader's personal finances. But moreso the Media. This year I have been astounded at the assignments I have been given to do in the trivial and in some cases, worthless nature of the story other than a "novelty". I was trying to sum up the words to express my feelings on the media this year, and then I saw Christmas' Extras
This is something we in the media need to realise; we generate the public demand. No one would care about Paris Hilton's jail sentence had Sky not given her trip to prison live coverage. Katy French's death deserved no more coverage than that of Kevin Doyle and John Grey, but didn't the national outpouring of grief that met Princess Diana's demise sell papers by the bucketload in the UK? Let's try the same here - why not? We do it with our reality television and talent shows.
The value of Madeline McCann's life was elevated above that of all the hundreds of people who went missing both in the UK and here in Ireland because Sky decided so. There was an uncomfortable xenophobic undercurrent in the whole thing - it was all to easy to have a pop at Johnny Foreigners policing of the situation, not like the sterling work done in the UK.
There is little to inspire an aspiring journalist to stay clear of the gutter, to avoid sensationalism when it's the easy path to success that is not only apparent but absolutely promoted within the industry.
Here's to 2008.