Tuesday 12 December 2017

Editorial: Farewell to a legend

pic.1. George Byrne
pic.1. George Byrne
George Byrne

IRISH journalism is a poorer place today following the death of George Byrne.

An outstanding critic and columnist, George wrote insightfully – and acerbically – on music, movies and cultural affairs for the best part of three decades.

Beginning with Hot Press, he later worked for the Irish Independent and, in recent years, for the Herald.

The heartfelt tributes paid to George from home and abroad since his passing yesterday indicate the high esteem in which he – and his writing – was held.

Rest in peace.

Is RTE social media warning fair?

Are RTE employees, contributors and freelancers entitled to express their personal opinions on social media?

Of course they are – unless it concerns the same-sex marriage referendum next May.

When it comes to that issue workers at the State broadcaster have been told, in no uncertain terms, to keep their mouths shut.

Likewise when it comes to expressing an opinion on the second constitutional change being voted on – reducing age restrictions on presidential candidates.

The RTE directive orders all staff, not just full-timers, not to comment on the referendum on social media, even if they flag their opinions as personal ones.

Is this fair? Does the RTE obligation (some would say obsession) with fair debate now extend to the out-of-hours, out-of-office, online activities of people it does not directly employ?

Journalistic balance is vital but personal self-expression equally so.

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