Media and heritage in Ireland: representations of heritage in Irish newspapers and the praxis of determination
Bourke, Simon (2009) Media and heritage in Ireland: representations of heritage in Irish newspapers and the praxis of determination. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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During the last decade of the 20th century, 'neo-liberal' ideas that had already permeated political thinking throughout much of the Western world achieved dominance in Ireland, with all mainstream political parties ascribing to a greater or lesser extent to a programme of tax cuts, privatization of pubic assets and services, deregulation of markets, devolvement of government responsibilities to ‘experts’ and the marketization and commercialization of sectors previously considered subject only to the requirements of the common good… education, health, defence – and heritage. Heritage – the built and natural environment considered as patrimony – was assigned an
exchange value but was required to 'pay its own way'. However, from the mid-1990s, the country experienced an economic boom that was heavily dependant on an inflated
property market, greatly increased residential and commercial development and heavy State expenditure on infrastructural projects. This climate ushered in a new official attitude of heritage expendability, one that needed to be communicated to a public only recently encouraged to think of heritage as a valuable commodity.
In a pluralist democracy such as Ireland, the right to freedom of expression should ideally empower journalists to provide in-depth, balanced coverage of issues that affect
heritage, that incorporates all reasonable viewpoints and includes representatives of all concerned parties, identifies the major agents, apportions responsibility for key decisions, and provides sufficient analysis and overview to locate heritage issues in their social and ideological context. In fact, this study establishes, through analysis of relevant content in Irish newspapers, that a clear ideological misrepresentation of heritage dominates the print-media discourse; and further establishes, through a survey of journalistic practices and attitudes, that structural and practical constraints and
determinants within newspaper organizations allow power centres in society to manipulate the discourse to produce representations of heritage that are ideologically at
odds both with the journalists themselves and the general public.
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