Jude Collins

Friday, 20 April 2012

What will we do without Sir Tony & Son?

Gavin O'Reilly and his missus

Who would be a journalist these days, much less a newspaper editor?  The top man at the VO was on the BBC’s ‘Hearts and Minds’ last night, talking at  the speed of a greyhound on acid. Yes, he explained, the VO figures were down over the past five years but they were up from twenty-five years ago. When Noel Thompson asked how the online version of the paper was doing, the VO’s chief bottle-washer did a verbal bob and weave and said that, um, it was grand, they were going to be looking at it and maybe doing a wee bit of adjusting, sort of. Or words to that effect. Translation: bloody awful and we're wracking our brains for a solution.  In the background I’ll swear I heard the Kingston Trio with their old hit   It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song.

But the VO is by no means alone. The H & M discussion sprang from the fact that the Belfast Telegraph  has decided to stop producing an afternoon edition.  Cue lots of footage of men in caps shouting incomprehensibly in Belfast city centre while punters in slightly posher caps bought papers from them. Like every other paper around, the Bel Tel  is bleeding readers like a stuck pig, and though like the VO  it has an online edition, it equally can’t figure out how to make money from it. 

At the same time down south, there is much huffing and puffing about the end of another tradition – the O’Reilly family owning the Indo and related papers (including the Bel Tel). Even Enda Kenny got a few words in during a trip abroad, to say the government would be looking at the media ownership situation. There was some talk among politicians of the need to maintain high standards of journalism in Ireland, now Gavin O’Reilly had been ousted and  Denis O’Brien with his mate Dermot Desmond were top dogs. A lot of people hate Denis O'Brien and are worried about his media muscle; but then a lot of people hated Sir Tony O'Reilly and his son too.

So you could say it’s as you were down south: one set of obscenely rich Irish moguls gets replaced by another equally rich set.  But I’m more optimistic. Not because I believe O’Brien or Desmond are keen to bring a fairer, more balanced presentation of the world to the Irish people than their predecessors. It’s just that nothing – NOTHING – could be worse than the Indo as it existed under the O’Reilly regime. And if you have to ask “Why, what was wrong with it?” I respectfully suggest you take another  500 mg tablet and go back to sleep. 


  1. The one benefit of a Denis O Brien takeover would be the departure of your old friend Eoghan Harris who apparently has said he "will not serve " under the new regime.It will be interesting to see how events unfold.You obviously still watch "Hearts and Minds"despite your reservations on the commentary segment .Why this continuing obsession with the Irish News/V O? What did Noel Doran do to you? Pray do tell!!

  2. Ha haaa - I assume you're a psychiatrist, Anon 2:43. In which case you're a very bad one. I comment on things Irish, and from time to time mention some Irish newspapers - hardly an obsession. Noel Doran is a fine, good-looking, highly-intelligent human being for whom I have a deep respect. What more can I say?

  3. I'm sure Noel is blushing as he reads your opinion of him!Who says irony is dead?You may yet get an invitation to return to the V O!

  4. I think that would be hard to say with your tongue stuck firmly in your cheek. lol

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  7. Anon 3:08 - my apologies. I pushed a wrong button and excised your question "What is the VO?" It's the Venerable Organ.