UPDATE 2 Dec 12.26
Things are getting murkier indeed. Or perhaps more transparent. Broadsheet.ie have update there piece on this today with this
On Wednesday night we were told and it has since been confirmed to us that Peter Murtagh has had a professional relationship going back more than 25 years with Terry Prone, owner of The Communications Clinic. We were surprised that Mr Murtagh had not told us about this. Particularly as we had spoken candidly with him of our fears (real or imagined) and those of Kate’s mother about the influence and reach of The Communications Cinic within political and media circles in Ireland and that we had mentioned Terry Prone by name.
But we also realise that many journalists on most national newspapers know Ms Prone. It would be perhaps more unusual if Mr Murtagh did not know Terry Prone. We also understand that the Communications Clinic was unaware that Saturday’s article about Kate was about to appear.
But it is a question of transparency or, as media training consultants call it, the ‘optics’. Mr Murtagh wrote in some detail about Kate’s working life. The article did not mention her time at the Communications Clinic. Peter Murtagh is a friend of one of the owners of that company. Perhaps it should have been left to another journalist to cover that important area of Kate’s life? We asked Mr Murtagh yesterday morning on the record about Ms Prone but he said he did not wish to speak to us anymore.
OK can anyone explain how Terry Prone and her hubby Tom and son Anton Savage can manage to retain clients like the Catholic Church (spinning on how to put the best foot forward around the media unfriendly topics of child abuse and cover ups), Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael ( if you blame every one then no one is to blame etc) and yet not seem to have a fucking clue how the internet works? Like as in seriously no fucking clue? Dont they know you cant shovel your shit back into a PR presentation when you spill it on the nets? And do they really not get that in this public space, our public space, sharing for free is the rules and reason.
Seems The Communications Clinic (TCC ) and their legal reps are less than impressed with the fact that Broadsheet.ie have refused to bow to the to pressure to pull a story they have had up online yesterday
The story related to Kate Fitzgerald, a 25-year-old writer and PR consultant who took her own life in August this year. Kate wrote an anonymous piece which was published after her death in Irish Times on Sept 9th. It was an article that spoke to the experiences of mental health and workplace bullying, and printed to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day.
It has since become clear that Kate worked for TCC. This presumably has had the effect of leading many to suspect that the TCC was a workplace where there was a culture of bullying. However its not the aim of this post to speak to that. In truth I don’t know. But lots of place are. In fact any workplace where your job and by extension your sense of security is precarious and not secure is by definition a place where you are bullied, though of course there very often is a much more explicit manifestation of power-over. If we are to really understand mental health and stress in the workplace we need to define the relationship between our workplace and our health on and in our terms, not on the terms of those who hold the power to sack us. What is clear is that cases of bullying and constructed dismissal have been brought against the TCC, as stated in the Broadsheet article, itself citing the Indo and Times.
“The Communications Clinic was also the subject of allegations by a former employee Karagh Fox (left), age 26, who worked at the company between March 2008-November 2009.”
Things took a dark and insidious turn yesterday when legal actions and threats where made against Broadsheet.ie as well as the Irish Times.
After the legal threats from TCC, The Irish Times subsquently edited the letter of Kate Fitzgerald. Thats right, they made a decision to edit the letter of a woman who is no longer alive, written about workplace bullying and depression on the basis of threats from TCC, her former employer. I mean it doesnt at all sound like the actions of agressive bullying company at all, right?
Editing a written piece of text to remove the paragraphs or sentence and thus misrepresent what the author intented is the definition of spin itself. The Irish Times is engaging in acts of spin, purposefully misrepresenting the writing of a young woman who is now dead, doing so on behalf of TCC simply because TCC are afraid that people might jump to the conclusion that it was they, her employers, that were being decribed as insentitive and as bullies in relations to the mental health of their workers.
They certainly fucked that up, because right now I like many other can’t think of a more insensitive bullying thing to do, than to be throwing around legal threats. When you addd having the ability to delete threatening messages on other peoples answerphones you have to start standing up and takin notice. This from the Broadsheet website.
5pm Update: The voicemail which warned of the “libel landmine” [that] was going to “blow up in our faces” (see above) has disappeared. It had been saved, the contents transcribed and was last played back at 2pm today. We have contacted Vodafone who have told us that it is highly unusual as all voicemails can be retrieved, even if deleted, within 24 hours.
News of the World anyone ?
Broadsheet initially pulled their pieces. But in a decision that puts them heads and shoulders about other media publications they decided to re print (and contextualise) and be damned. Its probably easy to miss the significance of this given the sensitive nature of whats being discussed. They are standing up to often hidden yet very specific media powers. Broadsheet admitted they where ‘scared’. That is a profoundly honest piece of journalism in itself, and should be recognised as such. It takes on a greater resonance when at it heart this is about the power of some media companies to create fear and silence from other media organisation, from the wider public and even former employees now deceased. Thats a pretty breath taking belief in your power, and entitlement, to silence others.
The monopoly of the creation of meaning-making held by mainstream media corporations – with O Reilly and O Brien holding the helm of Therapy Media, where “positivity and patriotism” replaces critical thinking and intellectual and emotional honesty, and where ‘facts’ are played like puppets by PR companies – may not be completey gone, be we now have the possibility of genuinely challenging it. Partly because people like those behind Broadsheet take risky decisions to make it so. For that they should be applauded loudly. And so can you! Support from the wider public couldn’t be clearer. Within minutes a suggestion of crowdsourced fundraising to cover legal costs also gained traction. There is a lesson too. Many many of us will support and defend good journalism, we will actively defend other as they speak truth to power. Something significant and perhaps even beautiful happened yesterday on their website that centainly helped brighten an otherwise depressing – in its literal meaning – display of corporate arrogance and entitlement to power.
(Get your server into Sweden though) The more of us that write about this, blog about it, the more ridiculous the threat of legal censorship actually becomes and the more insidious we understand the machinations of mainstream media and PR companies as a central component in injustice and inequality. It genuinely seems that TCC and it high flying stratgists a PR has no fucking idea how the interwebs work.
Their power as a company like all propaganda companies is about shutting up, drowning out and dismissing the voices that run counter to the narratives of their rich and powerful clients. For example if you are the a survivor of Church/State abuse, TCC and other PR firms spinning and shaping narratives against your aims for truth, justice and people being held accountable for their actions. They did this for cash. Parasites begins to come close……
You probably didnt know that companies like TCC were essentially hired guns to fight against you. Again their strength and power to do that is directly related to being invisible. Thats why they are pissed with Broadsheet.ie
When the last time any of you got the Irish Times to pull an article, print an apology otherwise bend to your legal demands. Lets face it they would- politely – tell you to sod off. And to be honest, there a good chance that the Irish Times could fight a legal case. You really think TCC want a day in court. Does it fuck, where they have to take a stand and spill their stuff under oath? The Irish Times took the soft option. Much easier to upset the parents of Kate Fitzgerald than the Merc driving elite at TCC. Kate’s mother described how she was horrified at the Irish Times for “butchering” her daughter’s article.
It in this specific context that when you mix a commitment to truth-telling-to-power and social media tools in a fairly small and reasonably networked country like Ireland PR companies dont have a patch on ordinary folks. TCC are getting owned every single time someone reads this stuff about their legal threats that resulted in the most human of articles – again written in anonymity by a former employee about their own experiences of bullying culture and an employers inability give a fuck about the mental health of their employees. TCC are worried simply because the basis of their company profile is to remain invisible to everyone except those who can afford to keep them in new Mercs.
Most PR companies are from the perspective of ordinary folks, parasitic and dangerous, tools of the powerful to place stories, to spin and to smear, to cover up lies and fabricate narratives. You can be guarenteed PR companies will be paid lots of you taxes to spin the coming budget, to spin about your insecurity. The folks doing the advising are pretty secure though. If there is anything we need to learn from the past of this state is that vested interests need silence to operate and manipulate. Hats off to Broadsheet for refusing to be muzzled.