Irish government PR spins close to propaganda

The Strategic Communications Unit, recently established by the government, has come under fire this week for directing newspapers to publish paid-for advertorials without using the word “advertising”.

Ciara Kenny
Ciara Kenny The Irish Times, Ireland
Source: The Irish Times
Irish government PR spins close to propaganda - NewsMavens
Leo Varadkar, Irish PM

Why this story matters:

Some believe that it is a testimony to the ruling politicians' blatant approach to using public money in order to shape media coverage.

Government-sponsored content, like any other paid-for articles in the media, must be clearly identified as such. It should be crystal clear to everyone whether the article they are reading is impartial editorial or advertising.

However, it is not only the civil service that must be absolutely transparent -- it is also imperative that news organizations uphold their standards.

The government is often accused of communicating poorly with the public. The Strategic Communications Unit -- the brainchild of the Taoiseach (Irish PM) -- was set up, with a very large budget, in an effort to improve this.

Yet, as Irish Times pointed out, “this controversy arises not because the government was communicating strategically, but because it was -- in certain instances at least -- communicating politically”.

politics, scandal

Details from the story:

  • Articles promoting Project Ireland 2040, a new national development plan, appeared in a number of regional newspapers. The Strategic Communications Unit directed newspapers to publish the materials they provided without identifying them as an advertorial (paid content).
  • Some featured pictures of Fine Gael (government majority party) politicians, who were not directly involved in the development plan.
  • A campaign promoting Project Ireland 2040 would cost about 1.5 million euros.
  • Opposition parties have accused the government of using public money to promote their party, bandying words like “spin” and “propaganda” around as official complaints have been made to the Advertising Standards Authority, and the Standards in Public Office Commission.
  • Leo Varadkar, Irish PM, ordered a review of the unit, including the commissioning and copy-approving process of the Project 2040 advertorial campaign
  • Sinn Féin, a leading Irish left-wing party, has called for the Strategic Communications Unit to be disbanded.
EDITOR'S PICK:
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.

WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
SUPPORTED BY:

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

STRATEGIC PARTNERS:
NewsMavens
NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
CORE TEAM
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy