Who Makes the Headlines? Journalism by Bloggers or Journalism by Journalists

News used to be simple: we read it in the paper, heard it on the radio or saw it on TV. Now, it emanates from all angles. Traditional mass media outlets are replaced, or at least complemented, by websites and blogs, some operated by one or two people, others operated by whole teams, but most of which offer news both for free and, most importantly, faster. It’s no longer necessary to wait by the newsagent’s door until he arrives with the bundles of papers in hand. Our news is not neatly packaged into the rectangular confines of the newspaper page, nor the few minutes afforded on radio or TV. It is packaged how we want it.

With the arrival of the internet, news changed shaped, grew swifter. Now, it’s essentially instant. Within seconds, an image can be uploaded, and viewed by people on the other side of the world. In some cases, celebrities have uploaded comments or photos, then removed these within seconds. In most cases, such momentary hesitation proves futile. While the presence of cameras in modern society might recall George Orwell’s 1984, the variety and the great number of multiple inputs that feed modern media are very much the opposite.

The citizens of the world may now determine what constitutes news, whether it be something trivial or something important. In the latter case, certain news organisations may be influenced by political affiliations, and so may choose not to report certain news, or to present it in a biased manner. Citizen journalism, of course, avoids this. After all, how could thousands of bloggers across the world be persuaded to follow a particular line for political or monetary reasons? Although this form of news delivery supports many of journalism’s traditional principles, such as the freedom of expression and transparency, the communication revolution has allowed many citizen journalists to deliver information directly, by escaping the traditional gatekeepers. Because everyone is connected, all at once, no-one assumes charge or, more importantly, responsibility. False information can spread, such as the relatively recent fabrication involving a terrorist attack on the White House. Essentially, citizen journalism has called into question the reliability of news sources.

Of course, some still appreciate the art of the journalist. Maybe this is where the future survival of traditional journalism lies. In a similar way that book publishers claim to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, in relation to self-publishing and traditional publishing, newspaper journalists may choose to be associated with the selection process, and thus with quality and reliability. Only then decisive appreciation for their work and skill may observed. The death of paper itself may be impossible to avoid, due to matters of economics and convenience, but that’s a different issue. No matter what is the future for public attitudes towards journalism by bloggers and journalism by journalists, and whether people are prepared to pay for their news, it is likely that, when reference will be made to a story “breaking”, we will be probably referring to information transmitted via social networking websites. Fully formed news articles will only be able to follow in their wake.

– Natasha Ibanez, FT MBA 2012/13

Claiming the Arctic

So, when you think of global warming, you think of sea levels rising? Well, why do the sea levels rise? Because of melting ice as well as ocean water temperature increasing and so on. Now, take into consideration another consequence of melting ice on a large scale: new sea routes and natural resources will be open to international trade. But who has control of this no man’s land? Under international law, no country currently owns the North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The five surrounding countries –  the Russian Federation, the United States (via Alaska), Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland) – are limited to 200 nautical miles (370 km/230 miles) adjacent to their coasts. In 2007, the Russians planted a flag at the bottom of the ocean, claiming a huge, unexploited, resource-rich section of the Arctic, despite Canada also claiming the region. Tensions have since simmered.

As the ice recedes year-by-year, the Arctic’s significance as a global transport link and a source of natural resources grows stronger. The Russian government estimates that the Arctic region harbours approximately a quarter of the world’s oil and gas. In early 2011, at an Arctic conference held in Norway, U.S. Rear Admiral Dave Titley stated: “We believe that sometime between 2035 and 2040, there is a pretty good chance that the Arctic Ocean will be essentially ice-free for about a month.” Connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific will reduce transit times considerably. Russian scientists are striving to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,240-mile underwater mountain range that cuts across the Arctic Ocean, is geologically part of the Russian mainland.

Denmark also has interests in claiming the ridge, suggesting it is an extension of Greenland, which is a self-governing province of Denmark. On the other hand, Canadian scientists assert that the Lomonosov Ridge belongs to the North American land mass. Interest is increasing throughout the world, even among countries such as China, Italy, Japan and Korea, which are far from the Arctic. The Arctic Council (which technically has no legal status) granted “observer” status to six nations, including China. Although the council’s initial aims were about environmental protection, it has more recently spoken of “the central role of business in the development of the Arctic”. Despite all of this, Ireland seems uninterested or unsuccessful in playing a role in the future of the Arctic, although it is by far closer to it than, for example, China or Italy.

The Arctic Council has become the primary body tasked with handling disputes between Arctic countries. Its current members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. Some established agreements include: international search and rescue co-operation procedures; the establishment of a permanent secretariat in Norway; and a process for granting non-Arctic states permanent observer status within the council. The latter can be viewed as a clever attempt to pacify the EU and China, without actually acknowledging their interests in the region. It is interesting that a primary criterion for becoming a permanent observer is to first accept Arctic countries’ sovereignty over certain parts of the region.

Ireland, it appears, is being left behind. It is still not an observer member of the council. Perhaps this demonstrates a lack of foresight. Understandably, there are plenty of present-day issues occupying the Irish government! The freeing of the Arctic, in a manner of speaking, will in time become headline news, even before countries begin to reap the full benefits. However, organisations, in addition to countries, can become observer members of the Arctic Council. It could be argued that Ireland is indirectly involved through scientific and other intergovernmental organisations such as United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, or through the EU, which is being considered for observer status.

The whole affair has the potential of resulting in economic, political and environmental consequences that will ripple around the world. Ireland is seemingly allowing the opportunity to influence to pass by. By the time it decides to act, it may be too late. It may be a case of not being able to exercise any worthwhile influence. Nevertheless, politicians must be aware of the issue, and must address it in the public arena. Whatever is Ireland’s role in the future of the Arctic, especially as a nearby neighbour, it is clear that rivalry for the region, with its direct shipping routes and untapped natural resources, will heat up on the world stage, perhaps even quicker than the melting ice itself.

– Natasha Ibanez, FT MBA 2012/13 

They don’t make them like that anymore (continued)

Read part 1 here

It was John Joshua who at the beginning of 19th century sold off the lower portion of the Stillorgan estate for building development and at this time Carysfort Avenue was laid out.  Part of the estate, including the grounds of our campus, Lord Carysfort then sold to Attorney General Mark Anthony Saurin. Then the ownership transferred to another highly prominent figure, Right Hon. Rickard Deasy, whose involvement in the historically important Landlord and Tenant Law Amendment Act 1860 resulted in the Act being widely known as Deasy’s Act.

Finally, Carysfort House and the surrounding estate were offered for sale in 1890, and the Sisters of Mercy, represented by Mother Superior Liguori Keenan, decided that these grounds, away from the busy, industrial and bustling city of Dublin, would be a perfectly suited home for education provided on a grand scale. This lady has been described as a very strong-minded, all-action woman who happened to be a sister of Sir Patrick Keenan, Head Commissioner of Education in Ireland. Mother Keenan led the process of transferring the School from Baggot Street and developing the Blackrock site to expand the facilities, including the main (red brick) building of the current Smurfit School. In 1901, Dr. Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin, laid the foundation stone for a teacher training college, the chapel, an industrial school, a primary school and a secondary school. The main building of the current Smurfit School served as the reputable teacher training college, assuming the name of Carysfort College. At its peak in the early 1980s, the college produced more than 400 primary school teachers per year. It enjoyed the reputation of producing highly-trained and highly-competent teachers.

In February 1986, Gemma Hussey, Fine Gael Minister of Education, announced that the Department of Education was no longer prepared to subsidise the college. The decline in birth rate, and thus the decrease in the number of teachers required, was cited as the primary reason for this.

Among those who participated in the education process at Carysfort were Eamonn de Valera, first Taoiseach and first President of the Republic of Ireland, who was a professor of maths there; recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature poet Seamus Heaney, who served as head of the English Department; and Dr. Vincent O’Brien, a professor of music, among whose pupils were Count John McCormack and James Joyce. An interesting account by Christine Coady (later Sister Pascal), who studied there in 1910, details unusual aspects of Eamonn de Valera’s  teaching: “Looking back one can see that many of the problems he set up were based on his study of arms and ammunition – the principle of the torpedo took up one session”.

Natasha Ibanez

– Natasha Ibanez, FT MBA 2013

They don’t make them like that anymore

One of the most special things about this year is the privilege of completing our studies in a location associated with an esteemed history of education, evidence of which lies in the magnificent building that houses our college and the surrounding areas. The building itself is a well-preserved example of the architecture of its time, with a design rich in detail, from the wide, steep staircase, the halls, high ceilings and doorway arches, to the numerous high, deep-set windows (making use of the technology available at that time, to embrace as much light as possible) and, most notably, the characteristic red brickwork. It is this level of detail, rarely evident in modern architecture, and the workmanship invested in the building, that add to the sense of a place where the serious yet nurturing matter of education must take place, a sense of grandeur among comfort. This is a culture and tradition fit for reflection, learning and development. Here, one can experience tranquillity and protection via seclusion from the modern, busy world of noise, glass and steel.

Such features lead to the question: Why was this building lavished with so much attention and financial support? I could not find a straightforward answer to this question, but I did discover some interesting facts regarding the history of this building and the surrounding land.

The history of the Smurfit Graduate School of Business began when UCD, via a combination of government funding and private funding (from Dr. Michael Smurfit), purchased the buildings and the 20 acres of land connected to it at the beginning of 1991 from businessman Mr. Robert “Pino” Harris. Such a move supported the transfer of the already successful UCD Graduate School of Business to a new location, as well as its expansion. The deal found support in government among the highest ranks, including the Taoiseach. Originally, plans were made to organise a shuttle bus service between the new branch of UCD and its main Belfield campus.

The previous owner of the premises, Mr. Harris, whose main business interests involved importing trucks, had only been its proud owner for 7 months prior to selling. Mr. Harris’s intention when purchasing the property in mid-1990 was to establish an international education school, which would have been highly desired by many, perpetuating the property’s legacy of high-quality education.

Prior to Mr. Harris, a consortium known as Devmac owned the building; and previous to this, it had been founded by the Sisters of Mercy. The property then served as a teacher training college, initially for women solely. Only towards the end, in 1975, did it become co-educational. The last two transfers of ownership were unfortunately plagued with financial controversies, but which are now in the past.

Although the college’s postal address locates it in Blackrock, the grounds were once part of a parkland belonging to the Stillorgan estate. The land afforded a great view of the sea, even from Stillorgan, with the surroundings relatively free of construction. One of the most long-standing owners was the Allen family, which purchased these lands, including the lands around Cary’s fort, a castle in Co. Wicklow. The castle received its name from its founder and first owner, 1st Viscount Falkland, Henry Carey, who built it in the 1620s. Henry Carey was also the Lord Deputy of Ireland between 1622 and 1629. The Allen family actively acquired land, expanding the Stillorgan estate to include the current college campus grounds. The Hon. Elizabeth Allen’s extensive inheritance, consisting of the largest estates in Ireland at the time, was then shared with John Proby through marriage in the mid-18th century. John Proby’s successful career raised him to the Peerage of Ireland, making him 1st Baron Carysfort of Carysfort. Their son, John Joshua Proby, even acquired the title of 1st Earl of Carysfort, and, in 1804 built Carysfort Park House, now known as the Ligouri House, around which the current student accommodation (Proby House Residencies) has been built.

To be continued …

– Natasha Ibanez, FT MBA 2012-13

China: More Complicated than Rice and Chopsticks

Soon, we’ll have the opportunity to undertake one of the most eagerly anticipated elements of our course: the class trip to China. (Meanwhile, some of the class will be venturing to sunny Brazil.) Apart from experiencing a tourist’s perspective of this vastly contrasting culture, we’ll enjoy many insights into the possibilities and challenges available in China for a foreign investor. Gaining these insights will offer not only the basic knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in this particular business environment, but will perhaps challenge some of our long-established convictions regarding the most efficient methods of operating a business or an economy. In many ways, the experience might even humble us.

The Chinese environment is often portrayed in literature as too complex for our understanding, so the task of comprehending it adds to its fascination. Witnessing the Chinese people in their own environment should yield unexpected observations, and might even deepen our appreciation for the might of their civilisation. During our first session of preparation for the class trip, we were treated to a number of presentations. One of the most striking phrases spoken by a speaker referred to China as “re-emerging”. Indeed, China is attributed with inventions such as silk, cast iron, pottery and the fork, introduced at the time when Europe was struggling to catch up as an emerging civilisation.

It seems that modern China’s complexity has resulted from the intertwining of a traditional, almost centralised economy, initiated by Mao’s ideals, and the modern global business environment, along with its pressures and opportunities. Nevertheless, for some believers in Marxism, China represents a glimpse of hope, though, to many more, it seems a land of commercial opportunities, demonstrating some of the symptoms that the USSR and its communist party suffered prior to its collapse. This complexity is further intensified by the extreme diversity evident throughout every aspect of Chinese life and land, including language, customs, landscape and even climate. The north typically experiences sub-zero temperatures in winter, at the same time it would be possible for a person to sunbathe in the sub-tropical south.

Continue reading China: More Complicated than Rice and Chopsticks