One of the much under-noticed trends in the history of Ireland's traditionally conservative and State-dominated media is the emergence of a number of exciting and user-generated websites that are challenging the Brian Dobson/Six One News style of reporting that's been lulling Irish audiences into a dinner-time coma for years, and offering a new and exciting take on the nation's tumultuous political and current affairs.
Among the several recent startups I've recently noticed in this category, Newswhip, TheJournal.ie, and Joe.ie stand out as good examples of this new media Zeitgeist that's putting the power of expression back into the hands of the Irish media consumer and out of the boardrooms of Donnybrook, where Ireland's main State-sponsored broadcaster is based.
These websites sometimes amount to little more than further grumbling at our incompetent government, something which is already supplied in abundance by the mainstream media, but often also produce excellent criticisms and analyses of current affairs, and best of all, stinging and very funny satire.
Parallel to this promising development, which makes following the news a lot more interesting, has been the emergence and continued growth of blogs in the Irish blogosphere.
A recent feature in the Irish Examiner, a Cork-based broadsheet, featured ten of Ireland's most promising bloggers, one of the most prominent pieces on blogs in the mainstream Irish print media in recent years. The article noted that blogs have moved from the domain of the quirky and eccentric and into the mainstream, which is something I've also noted as a student at an Irish university. Blogging/Tweeting (which is really micro-blogging) are no longer the preserve of the marginalized and lonely and it's now socially acceptable - if not quite yet cool - to run your own blog. Although there's been an accompanying measure of reluctance on the part of some parts of the Irish population to embrace this new medium (most notably, universities), it seems that more and more people are taking to Wordpress, Blogger, and whatever other media they can find to get a load off their chest.
Some will say that this amounts to little more than what psychologists call 'talk therapy', but even if that be the case, what harm can come of it? The Irish gift of the gab is now carrying over into digital discourse, and that for me has to be for the betterment of society as a whole.
Despite all the blogging and website-making though, Irish political revolt and opposition seems to have remained confined to the desktop computers, comfy offices, and monitors. The type of street protests that took place in Greece after that country's financial implosion never really happened here, despite an unprecedented recession and a partial loss of sovereignty. But at least there'll be more people to talk about that, if only online, and surely that's a positive.