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(Credit: Press Council of Ireland)

The Irish media will have a new press ombudsman soon. John Horgan, who has served as press ombudsman since 2007, is retiring in September, according to the Irish Times. Peter Feeney, a member of the Irish Press Council, will be the new ombudsman.

Horgan reflected on his time as ombudsman in an e-mail to iMediaEthics.

Without commenting on the controversies he dealt with, he told iMediaEthics that despite all of the changes in the industry during his seven years as ombudsman, several keys elements of journalism haven’t changed.

He identified several important factors as remaining important for good journalism, which he noted are generally “platform-neutral.”

  • reliability
  • credibility
  • attention to detail
  • timeliness

Further, he commented that “Ombudsmen, while they are becoming an increasingly important part of any organisation that prides itself on accountability, are at the end of the day a vital aid to, but not a substitute for, the truth-telling which is at the core of our profession.”

In recent years, one of the biggest issues in Irish media ethics was RTE, Ireland’s public broadcaster, and its wrongly reporting in a program “Mission to Prey” that a Galway priest had raped and impregnated a young Kenyan girl. RTE was successfully sued by the priest, Father Kevin Reynolds, for libel.

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Horgan conducted an investigation into the RTE report, as iMediaEthics wrote in 2011.

Horgan was also invited to speak in 2012 at the UK Leveson Inquiry into press practices following the phone hacking scandal.

Horgan noted in the press council’s press release announcement of his successor that shortly after he became ombudsman, “the print media was caught in what seemed to be a perfect economic storm – one which has not abated” and will continue to be a factor for media and the next ombudsman.

Feeney, Horgan’s replacement, formerly worked for Irish public broadcaster RTE as Freedom of Information Officer and Head of Broadcast Compliance.  During his time at RTE, he “managed RTÉ’s processes in dealing with complaints to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland,” according to the press council’s press release about his appointment.

Hat Tip: Guardian

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‘Reliability, credibility, attention to detail’ still important to journalism, says Ireland’s outgoing press ombudsman

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