Jude Collins

Monday, 5 November 2012

Are you wondering where to slip the new Irish Times?

I see where, over on sluggerotoole.com, Mick Fealty is going all thoughtful and running a professional eye over The Irish Times, which today apparently has adopted a new format.  It’s not gone tabloid but it hasn’t stayed broadsheet either. Somewhere in between.

 Mick says things like “The Berliner is a personal favorite of mine, not least because it  has the kind of charm of the unusual you get from like the quarto and octavo in books or magazines... The new Irish Times is much less radical, as I suspect was the intention. The size is identifiably broadsheet, but is also double tabloid size. So it sits handily inside the Irish Indo for instance.”

Is Mick taking the mickey? Personally  I don’t give a monkey’s whether the Irish Times sits handily inside the Irish Indo  or not. For two reasons.

The first is because I’d rather scoop my eyes out with a soup spoon than buy The Indo,  and on the rare occasion I buy The Irish Times I either read it or shove it in my coat pocket. In fact these days I do virtually all my newspaper reading online.  Two years ago I realised that, apart from the expense, I was cluttering up the house and eating into my time by buying and then feeling obliged to read two newspapers every day. So I stopped and I can’t tell you how cleansing it feels. 

The second reason I think the Irish Times  format is not worth discussing is not the reason Mick suggests - that inside five years all newspaper reading will have migrated online. It’s because I think it’s infinitely more important what the paper says than what size or shape it is. Do its journalists and columnists report the truth or do they bend to the pressures of editor and owner? Do they treat the north as somewhere ‘up there’ or do they afford it the same space and attention as any other part of the country?  Do they do profiles of the rich and famous or do they deal with real issues?Those are questions worth spending ink on - not on whether one slips neatly within the other. For God’s sake, Mick - that’s near cat-walk talk. 

What I would welcome is a discussion of how Irish - and English - national newspapers will deal with 2016. And  how many of them will have the cojones to print the editorial line they took on Easter Week  one hundred years earlier?  

It’s the message that counts, Mick, not the handwriting. 


  1. As McLuhan tells us, form dictates content Jude. ;-) who cares now what a paper will say in four years time if its not going to be here then?

  2. Given the current price of the Irish Times,I imagine most people woul read it online.One can appreciate your antipathy towards the daily Indo but perhaps you have more of a "gra" for the Sindo and your old nemesis Eoghan Harris!At least he gave a favourable mention to your book.Would you class the Andersonstown News as a paper that"reports the truth or does it bend to the pressures of its owner"? Is it not a bit early to be asking how papers will cover 2016? Who knows how many of us will even be alive then?!

  3. Jude
    "Do its journalists and columnists report the truth or do they bend to the pressures of editor and owner?"
    Out of curiosity, which, if any, papers do you feel pass this test?

  4. If I may? Columnists and bloggers are a breed apart for big newspapers. Journalists have only a limited freedom. They get told what to write (though after the first few years, not always how to write it).

    In my limited experience at the Daily Telegraph, Legal has more of a restraining influence than editors or owners. But you do generally know why you've been hired, and so long as you keep to that, no one bothers you too much.

    But journos and other staffers are directly answerable to the editors. They get directed, to a greater or lesser extent. I like the IT, and the Indo. The Sindo less so. The SBP is my Sunday reading when I'm at home, but my pocket cannot stretch to online subscriptions.

    I just don't know how you would keep up with southern politics if you don't these papers.