Aoife Kavanagh Takes the Fall
Bernie Goldbach in Cashel | Image of Sindo
THE DUST HASN'T SETTLED from the biggest mistake made this century by Ireland's national broadcaster. Today's Sunday papers continue their coverage of the official Broadcasting Association of Ireland report, released to coincide with the May Bank Holiday Weekend.
I doubt short-term public interest about what happened will subside because the sheer costs (libel payment and fine) will suck away a significant portion of money earned by RTE through licence fees. The settlements help redline the broadcaster's budget. And the Minister for Communication hasn't had his much-anticipated exchange of views with the RTE board, another place where there's likely to be blood on the carpet.
In the official report, the lead journalist in an episode of Prime Time Investigates, Aoife Kavanagh, comes under fire for several reasons. She relied on the primacy of the word-of-mouth testimony by people thousands of miles away, discounted the integrity of Father Kevin Reynolds as she accused him of fathering a child in Kenya, did not contenance Reynolds' offer to take a paternity test, and did not pass emails from solicitors to the RTE Legal Department. It didn't help that the Irish national broadcaster did not have a written framework for investigative journalism in place, thus ceding power to Kavanagh's journalistic instincts.
Ireland is such a small country and Aoife Kavanagh is a voice I will miss on Morning Ireland. Whatever she does in the field of journalism, the result of her being caught in the cross-fire of a bungled piece of prime time investigation will remain part of her CV forever. The internet's wikipedia and chapters in college journalism textbooks will see to that.
Good luck, Aoife Kavanagh. You've made history. I hope you write a book and leverage LinkedIn.
Audioboo -- Investigative Journalism Standards, May 6, 2012.
YouTube -- "Aoife Kavanagn and Failed Investigation, May 6, 2012.
Previously -- "Rebooting RTE", April 10, 2012.
Bernie Goldbach curates links about journalism.