Home > The Irish punditocracy as contrarian voice: opinion coverage of the workplace smoking ban.

Fahy, Declan (2009) The Irish punditocracy as contrarian voice: opinion coverage of the workplace smoking ban. Irish Communications Review, 11, pp. 50-62.

External website: http://arrow.dit.ie/jouicriss/14/

The journalism of commentators and columnists has remained a lacuna in media studies. Their work has received so little sustained critical attention that it has become something of a ‘black box’, even as the space devoted to opinion coverage in newspapers has expanded significantly over the past three decades. The section of the newspaper devoted to opinion journalism has traditionally been the op-ed page, so-called because of its usual placement opposite the section containing editorials. Viewed as a forum for the articulation of diverse viewpoints about current social issues, the page aims to provide a space in the ‘marketplace of ideas’ for the expression of opinions not found in news and editorial sections of newspapers….

This paper presents an analysis of the opinion coverage of another contentious and multifaceted Irish policy issue, the workplace smoking ban, implemented on 31 March 2004. The decision to make Ireland the first European Union country to implement a law of this kind, the first national ban of its type in the world, was addressed in thousands of Irish newspaper articles from its first announcement by the then Minister for Health, Micheál Martin, in January 2004. Its enactment marked the culmination of decades of anti-tobacco campaigning and legislation.

This paper aims to:
1. identify the dimensions of the ban that were explored by commentators;
2. determine whether the areas of interest for opinion writers were the same as the areas explored intensively by news reporters and editorial writers;
3. test whether a diverse range of viewpoints was expressed in commentary on the tobacco ban;
4. examine whether the preactionary discourse identified by Titley (2008) in opinion writing on immigration emerged in the commentary of selected writers on a different policy issue;
5. examine if Irish columnists had an influence on the enactment of the smoking ban legislation.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Tobacco / Nicotine
Page Range
pp. 50-62
Dublin Institute of Technology
Accession Number
HRB (Not in collection)
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