THE future of Irish journalism deserves far more thought than glib soundbites from the Opposition party, Fine Gael TD Noel Rock has said.

In response to Fianna Fáil proposals to create a Print Journalism Unit, Dublin North West TD Noel Rock said: “The desire to support quality journalism is laudable, but to only support print journalism is bizarre.”

“According to the Reuters Institute Digital Report for 2018, more people rely on the online version of newspapers as their main source of news (44%) than the print editions (35%). Under Fianna Fáil’s proposal, only journalism in the print edition will be supported, while the online version will be left to make their own hay,” he said.

“These proposals have clearly not been thought out. How can you support one platform of a media group and try to differentiate their online business and say it is completely separate so the State will not be supporting the online section? Newsrooms are integrated and journalists write for both print and their online titles and indeed, in the 24/7 media environment, it has become the norm for journalists to provide copy to their website title first and print after as the breaking news agenda dictates.

“More and more people are consuming their news online and that is unlikely to change. Quality journalism provided only in an online context would be excluded entirely under these proposals. Is that fair use of public funds? What about independent broadcasters and online websites who offer the country and their communities’ good journalism? Why exclude them? Indeed, the way this Unit is proposed, it will exclude new blood for entering the market – as it is likely that any new and innovative media organisations will be exclusively online focused.

“The motivation behind these proposals may be good but we are left with far more questions than answers. Whatever initiatives are taken in relation to the media need to reflect modern realities and be future-proofed,” Deputy Rock said.