TV and radio producer Pat O’Mahony has a reputation as someone who is as comfortable with new media as with old. That’s partly due to a series of Christmas programmes he made for RTE in 2009, 2010 and 2011 called Now That’s What You Called News. Based on Google’s Zeitgeist Report on popular searches, the show discussed the news of the year with an emphasis on how it had been covered online.
But as he explains in today’s podcast, even as he was making that first show, he still didn’t have a Facebook account, or Twitter.
Later, he discovered that his son was keeping in touch with family members using Facebook and he decided to join; a plan, he says, that failed at the first hurdle, “because to this day he still won’t be my friend on Facebook!”
I invited Pat to join me for a podcast this week to talk about media – old and new. He’s recently launched his website and blog at patomahony.ie, (hosted on Blacknight), where he’s been writing about his experience of 25 years in radio and television, most of it behind the scenes, all of it as a freelancer.
Click on the player above to listen to our conversation, or download it here: 40:17; 23MB; MP3.
“I have a blog … it drives traffic to the website, and the reason I have a website – and I only got that earlier this year – is because I am a freelancer, and I should have a presence. It should be a calling card. It’s what I have done.”
It’s only a few months old and he doesn’t think he’s got any work from it yet, but “it doesn’t cost a fortune to run a website”.
We talk about how traditional media has embraced online. Mark Little, says Pat, was one of the few “early adopters” to see where trends were leading. These days Pat gets most of his news online but it comes from traditional providers. “My twitter feed is predominantly news organisations.”
Is he concerned that the drive for clicks in new media has a distorting effect? Not really.
“Technology is the tail that wags the dog in the media business. As the technology changes and as new things become possible, and they become easier, and they become cheaper, it changes how the public wants to consume things, and that drives the business.
“We gave out about the tabloids and their Page 3 and their shock headlines back in the analogue day, and now we give out about the same thing except we call it clickbait. It got them to buy the newspaper back in the day: now it gets them to click on a story. It’s the same trick.”
He acknowledges that many people are rightly horrified by the trolling and hate exposed by the Internet: aspects of humanity which were suppressed by the “middle class” values of traditional media. But you can’t blame the Internet for that, he says. It’s better to acknowledge and confront the ugly side of human nature, than to pretend it doesn’t exist.
“The Internet is the Wild West. The Internet is where anyone can say anything, and of course, it’s pretty – and it’s ugly. It’s real life”