The Irish Times

Media format : Presse écrite, Internet

Frequency : Quotidien

Geographical distribution area : Nationale

Geographical area : Irlande

Website :

Country : Ireland

City : Dublin

Address : The Irish Times Building, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2

Created : 29 mars 1859

Owner : The Irish Times Trust Limited

Status : Trust

The Board of Directors of the Irish Times Trust is made up of 11 people.

Chairman of the Trust : Tom Arnold

Chairman of the Board of Directors : Dan Flinter

Managing Director : Liam Kavanagh

Editor : Kevin O’Sullivan

Some figures…

Group turnover : 81 million euros (2012 figure, with a loss of 6% compared with the previous year)

Percentage from advertising : 41% of turnover

Circulation : daily average of 85 000 copies

Market share : 16% of national weekday newspapers

Website : 5 million unique visitors per month

Personnel : 415 salaried staff of which 183 are journalists

Correspondants : 8 overseas correspondents (London, Brussels, Berlin, Rome, Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Paris) and about fifteen regular freelancers throughout the world.

Advertising agency : internal

Production unit : Dublin, London, Madrid. The Dublin press is the only printing press that belongs to the group.

Background :

Major Lawrence Knox was not yet 25 when he created The Irish Times – ‘the new conservative newspaper’ in 1859 which first appeared three times a week. It soon became a daily newspaper and, today, is the only survivor of the ten titles from the time.

With the death of its founder in 1873, the newspaper was changed from Protestant Nationalist to Unionist. The Arnott family remained the majority shareholders until the 1960s.

When Ireland became independent in 1922, The Irish Times chose to follow an independent political line.

The creation of the Trust in 1974 corresponded with the newspaper’s aims for freedom and independence on behalf of the whole community, with no personal, political or commercial bias.

In 1994 the Dublin daily paper became the first in the British Isles and one of the first in the world to create a website. The editorial teams merged in 2008.

The latest version of The Irish Times dates to 2012 when its format was changed to include more photos and additional printed supplements on colour paper.

Since 2001 the staff has been considerably reduced from 750 employees to 415. A significant drop in salary was also accepted by the staff (15% for low incomes and 25% for larger incomes).

Today the newspaper is regarded as politically liberal, economically ‘social democrat’ and neutral on the sensitive subject of Irish unity, as opposed to the Irish Independent newspaper which is regarded as populist and economically liberal. The Irish Times has thus supported Mary Robinson’s presidential election campaign in 1990 and changes to the law on divorce, contraception and abortion.

Always on the cutting-edge of technological developments, the newspaper was ahead with its mobile format which makes up half of its internet readership.

Complete answers

1.1. – Internal Code or charter? : Yes

The founding trust of The Irish Times drew up broad principles for its political and ethical direction. These include basic rules for its journalists: precise and comprehensible information must be fairly presented; comments and opinions must be informed but also clearly separated from the presentation of the facts; particular care must be taken in the treatment of minority interests and divergent viewpoints, etc.

These principles are made available to the public.

1.2. – How is their application monitored? : By two bodies

Two distinct groups monitor adherence to the principles drawn up by the Irish Times Trust:

2.1. – Journalist associations inside the media? : An equivalent exists

The editorial committee made up of eight journalists, elected for two years, treats a number of issues, including ethics and professional standards. It meets on request.

2.2. – What mechanisms are there to evaluate already published material? : Systematic and sometimes external

Newspaper content is minutely analysed internally by members of the Trust’s board of directors, by the editorial committee of journalists regarding all ethical aspects and professional standards, and also in regular editorial meetings.

2.3. – Which systems are in place to identify and correct errors? Fact checking? : Ongoing attention

The Irish Times does not have a fact-checking department as such but feels it covers itself as much as possible right from the first phase of information gathering, notably in scrupulously respecting the rule of two contradictory sources.

3.1. – What is the relationship between editorial values and advertising content? : None

The editorial pages, written by the journalists, are completely independent of advertising spaces. The boundary between the two is totally impermeable.

3.2. – What arbitration systems are in place for disputes? : Editorial department

3.3. – What is the structure for sponsorships and editorial partnerships? : This is clearly defined

The Irish Times holds journalistic work in high regard. It is made clear that no partner or advertiser can demand an article, intervene in the layout of the newspaper or even try to publicise an article. The rules of the game are known and respected without infringements, even though there are regular attempts.

4.1. – How are press trips and embedded journalists managed? : Rare and made public

Press trips are not very common. Decisions are always taken collectively and the context in which the article has been written is always made known to the readers.

4.2. – How are conflicts of interests with the owner resolved? : No conflicts

The Irish daily is run by a public trust which guarantees its editorial independence and freedom.

4.3. – How are political and economic pressures managed? : Through lengthy experience

The Irish Times has existed for 150 years and has survived all the problems experienced by Ireland. One of the reasons for its longevity is, without doubt, its capacity to resist outside pressures. The editorial staff, management and the Trust have guaranteed, and fought for, the newspaper’s independence, each at its own level.

4.4. – How is general news or “news in brief” treated? : Respect for the law above all

The newspaper scrupulously respects the general law which protects – rather well – citizens involved in this type of story before any possible conviction. It is forbidden to disclose the names of victims or perpetrators of rape, to name the parties in cases of divorce, to name minors, etc.

There is no code for the treatment of general news and ‘news in brief’ as such but the in-house culture is implicit and clear. The Irish Times is careful not to reveal the origins or religion of anybody, even internally, unless this information is thought necessary to a story.

4.5. – What criteria are there for the publication of photos/ transmission of filmed images? : The in-house culture

Retouching is not permitted, photo-montage is banned, outside of a few clearly stated rules. In keeping with the in-house culture which highlights the importance of avoiding shocking images, the Irish Times does not print images of dead bodies or blood.

Here, regular exchanges mean there is no automatic decision making. Each sensitive image is discussed and the decision to print a photo or not is jointly taken.

4.6. – How are amateur photos or videos treated? : Checked and not paid for

4.7. – What is the status of permanent or freelance journalist blogs? : A grey area

Those journalists who express themselves in blogs or on social media in their own names are asked to observe the newspaper rules. The request is not necessarily observed by these journalists and this can create problems.

When there was a call to demonstrate or take a position on abortion, for example, they engaged in discussions in their role as citizens with the rights of citizens. This may create conflicts with the independent position of the media they work for.

Political journalists are not allowed to be members of political parties and financial journalists are not authorised to make transactions on the financial markets.

4.8. – What are the conditions for working undercover? : Not allowed

5.1. – What form of mediation is there with the public? Is there an ombudsman? : There is an equivalent

A readers’ representative has been receiving complaints for the past ten years and has written or published corrections in the newspaper’s Corrections and Clarifications column.

The role of the readers’ representative is, however, not as broad as that of a real press mediator whose role is ensured by the Irish press council in which the newspaper plays a part.

5.2. – Is there a section for public comments? : Yes

5.3. – How is the ‘right of reply’ managed? : No equivalent in Ireland

5.4. – How are public visits organised? : No specific policy

The Irish Times receives students on work experience throughout the year but does not have a specific policy on public visits, even if these do sometimes take place.

Once a year, the newspaper headquarters holds an Open Day in Dublin, during which readers, or simply the curious, can come into the editorial offices and meet journalists.

5.5. – Are there organised meetings with the public? : Once a year

Meetings between The Irish Times readers and editorial staff are rare except at the annual Open Day and tend to be more to visit the premises than to hold real exchanges.

5.6. – Are journalist contact details made public? : Yes

Standardised e-mail addresses for journalists are made available to the public who can always call the editorial office to contact news professionals.

5.7. – How are internet forums managed? : Internal post-moderation

6.1. – Moving towards green printing? : Not a current concern

6.2. – How sustainable are the infrastructure and logistics? : No

6.3. – Are suppliers selected according to sustainable criteria? : No

6.4. – Is there sustainable management of film materials? : Not relevant

7.1. – What initiatives are there for developing media literacy? : No real policy

Apart from free copies being given to schools or the use of student rates, the Irish Times has no media literacy policy.

7.2. – Is support provided for media in emerging countries? : None, except…

The newspaper supported its opposite number in Sarajevo during the war in ex-Yugoslavia.

8.1. – What commitments are there for continuous training? : Minimal

There are limited legal requirements and short training programmes for journalists are mostly based on new technologies and press rights.

8.2. – Is there pay transparency?  : According to the trade union pay scale

All salaries are contracted (according to the professional trade union pay scale) but bonuses are not made public. The principle of share-ownership was introduced at the beginning of the 2000s but the company has not made a profit since 2008.

8.3. – Is there an apprenticeship tax? : Does not exist in Ireland

9.1. – How is corporate social responsibility applied? : None