Irish immigrant’s suicide exposes all that’s wrong with online media


Gaffney was quoted as saying “I’m sorry, so, so sorry,” that he couldn’t “remember a goddam thing” about the night. “I’ve ruined my life,” he said.

“People who go out for the night and drink too much can ruin themselves completely."

He was fined AUS$10,000 for criminal damage. It was also revealed that he and his girlfriend, to whom he’d been planning on proposing, had since parted ways.

From Wednesday into early Thursday, the story was everywhere in the Irish media, and beyond. We at IrishCentral reported it. The Irish Times ran it, as did the Independent. It was covered in The Daily Mail and in the Irish and UK versions of The Mirror. A few Australian sites picked it up, including the Irish Echo. So did, The, the list goes on.

Then the news broke that Gaffney had been found dead. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it had offered consular assistance to his family. Gaffney, originally from Lanesborough in Co. Longford, was the youngest of six children.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back it still shouldn’t be too hard to imagine the interest with which the first article on Gaffney’s case, published in Australian newspaper The Age, was met by editors and writers at the publications mentioned above.

An outlandish but relatively harmless offense in the grand scheme of things, the story would be easy to cover and certain to draw readers. Not to mention, there was also great potential for pithy leads and punning headlines.

And so they emerged.

“Oh, Crikey! Drunk Irishman says life was ‘ruined’ after flooding seven floors of a hotel and causing $500,000 damage.”