A Content Analysis of Media Coverage of the Garda Whistle-blower Controversies 2014-2017.

Feely, Kieran (2019) A Content Analysis of Media Coverage of the Garda Whistle-blower Controversies 2014-2017. Masters thesis, Griffith College.

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Whistle-blowers and the media have important roles to play in holding powerful organisations and institutions to account, including State institutions. The research project examined media coverage of the Garda whistle-blower controversies relating to the abuse of penalty points cancellation procedures and other policing shortcomings in Ireland. The research objectives were to discover what news values drove media coverage of the controversies and how did they change over time and how the coverage was framed and how did the framing change as the controversies played out. The research involved carrying out a content analysis. The methodology followed was that proposed by Hansen (1998). Four news flashpoints were chosen for the analysis, one in 2014, one in 2016 and two in 2017. The flashpoints were chosen as they coincided with some of the most important events in the controversies. The coverage was driven mainly by the news values reference to elite person, negativity and threshold, in that order. These did not change appreciably over the four news flashpoint periods, although negativity converged with reference to elite persons in the fourth news flashpoint as the sense of crisis in government was heightened. The most frequently-occurring dominant frames in the coverage were political and moral/ethical. Secondary frames were less polarised. The most frequently-occurring secondary frames were conflict and competence, but crisis, accountability, political and moral/ethical were also important. The political frame became more prevalent as the controversies developed over the news flashpoint periods. This is because the focus of media attention moved to the government as it struggled to deal with the issues and the sense of crisis in government increased. The moral/ethical frame diminished in importance, as the actions of individuals became less important as retirements and resignations took their toll on some of the main actors involved. The lesson for public policy is that crises need to be handled quickly and effectively. In this case, the controversies began in earnest in January 2014 and came to a climax with the resignation of a government minister in November 2017. This is an inordinate amount of time and demonstrates the weakness of the response of the government to the crisis, which was brought to the brink of collapse.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Journalism, Media Communications,Garda Whistle-blower Controversies.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Journalism & Media Communications > MA in Journalism & Media Communications
Depositing User: Ms Tehseen Faisal
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2020 15:25
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2020 15:27
URI: http://go.griffith.ie/id/eprint/280

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