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Michael Smith's Village Magazine RIght-wing Agenda Exposed by Phoenix

category national | arts and media | other press author Sunday October 10, 2010 20:40author by Concerned Indymediator Report this post to the editors

This week's Phoenix has an article entitled 'Village Magazine: The New Alternative?'

When socialite Michael Smith relaunched Vincent Browne's bankrupt Village Magazine last year, it was dubbed a "pseudo-left wing rag"by some online commentators. Now Phoenix magazine is basically saying the same thing

Here are some quotes from this weeks Phoenix article; 'Village Magazine: The New Alternative?;

"Smith's first edition of Village Mark II garnered substantial publicity, not to mention kudos in the country's liberal establishment, when it offered a reward of 10,000 for information about the funding of Declan Ganley's Libertas anti-Lisbon campaign. The offer was endorsed by both Smith and his old time campaign buddy - avid Europhile, Blueshirt Colm MacEochaidh - who also penned an opinion piece on the same subject in the same edition."

"Despite initial enthusiasm from readers, the magazine is increasingly viewed as a mess by seasoned campaigners and media analysts. Its editorial policy and strategy remains an elusive quality and despite pretentions to be a left wing magazine it is clearly more Irish Times than New Statesman. And like his Village Mark I mentor, Smith is prone to a fair amount of 'spleen venting' himself.

The profile concludes:

"If this is the new political alternative then Smith's targets, property developers, the new rich and the old establishment can rest easy."

This analysis is confirmed by the latest edition of Village, which has a lengthy interview with Fine Gael Finance spokesman Michael Noonan by Colm MacEochaidh, and an article by TCD economist Constantin Gurdgiev presents 'A rightist solution'.

Related Link: http://www.thephoenix.ie/phoenix/welcome.do
author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Mon Oct 11, 2010 17:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nice to see Phoenix piercing the pretence. I got a few letters in at first, till I made the mistake of spending three pages dismantling one of Gurdiev's earlier soufles. Verboten apparently.
He is one of the media pets, obviously dazzling and persuading the usual useful idiots(they are not restricted to leftist ideology)by his rigorous mastery of economic jargon, which makes for great space-fillers between the ads.
He has the same qualities that distinguished Mad Micky McDowell. Plausibility coupled to erudition and that capacity for the professional foul that endears him to all our sports-loving hacks.After all, its not about issues, its column inches and 'stories' that matter. Issues are just what we put out on newsstands for revenue generation.

author by Marcus McSpartacuspublication date Mon Oct 11, 2010 18:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Really? Is that the default label for everything else now?

Not disagreeing that Village is very Dublin 4 parochial / southsider liberal hick / Irish-Times-reader / milquetoast / roysh-on in terms of politics, but I think you're are giving way too much credit by saying that it actually has an agenda.

author by Concerned Indymediatorpublication date Mon Oct 11, 2010 20:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The old Village, under Vincent Browne, may have been slightly Irish Timesesque, but don;t let the cover of this bastard son version fool you. This is a very different beast; an obvious forray into the left, under a familiar flag, by a small cabal of privileged right-wingers. FIfth columnists.

The latest Village has another article by Constantin Gurdgiev, this time called 'A rightist solution'. Dr Gurdgiev is a director of the The Open Republic Institute, based on Shelbourne Road in Dublin 4. D4 is not as innocent as it sounds. According to this article in An Phoblacht:

The Open Republic Institute is a member of the Economic Freedom Network established by the Fraser Institute. The Canadian Institute, in collaboration with its worldwide affiliates, annually updates the Economic Freedom of the World Index. The latest report for 2005 is the 9th edition and rates 127 countries for the right-wing, free market, economic freedom concept. Hong Kong achieves the highest rating and Ireland finishes in eighth place. The Open Republic Institute provides the Index's Irish research data. Its Directors are Paul MacDonnell, Constantin Gurdgiev and Moore McDowell (brother of Ganley's barrister and buddy).

The article continues:

Right-wing Philosophy

The Institute does not accept any assistance from the state and is funded by private supporters. It stresses its educational role and independence. However, a study of what could be described as its core beliefs reveals an organisation very similar to its Canadian Fraser Institute mentor. These beliefs can be distilled as: opposition to effective trade union action as an impediment to 'economic freedom'; attacks on the concept of the welfare state and the 'dead weight' of public expenditure used to fund it; hostility to regulatory barriers when they hinder enterprise; constant praise for free markets and their supposed ability to generate social progress; the demand for the substitution of governmental control with competitive markets; an emphasis on the need for 'choice' in Irish healthcare; and support for the dangerous notion of prioritising 'economic freedom' over democracy.

The Open Republic Institute and Libertas have a lot in common:

While the movements of Irish free market politics have either died slowly (The Progressive Democrats) or have been thrown into the political wilderness before reaching adolescence (Libertas), even the free market ‘think-tanks’ (The Freedom Institute and the Open Republic Institute) have been falling on their swords also.

Between Gurdgiev and conservative MacEochaidh's worship of Fine Gael's Michael Noonan, there is hardly even an effort to hide the true right-wing nature of this magazine any more, which makes it clear the reason Smith and MacEochaidh went after Ganley and Libertas was he was stealing their fire, and potentially their votes.


The other left-wing?
The other left-wing?

author by Turpspublication date Tue Oct 12, 2010 06:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What is the ethos of any commercial magazine? Business of course. The 'old' Magill under Browne, Toibin and others carried lavish ads for flashy cars, nice watches and good whiskey and vodka, so regardless of the political stance taken by accomplished writers like Gene Kerrigan and others, Magill was based on an A and B readership able and willing to buy some of the goodies of the advertisers. The plain working man's Woodbines and Dennys sausages weren't featured in the adverts. I'll grant that the old Magill carried excellent investigative pieces on politics and economics.

And what is the agenda of Phoenix magazine? Business again, with some chuckle-inducing cartoons and satire reminiscent of the old genteel Dublin Opinion, and some hard hitting exposes of shady dealing by dubious business entrepreneurs. But look at how Magill earns its bread. Yes, look at the steady diet of advertorial pages at the back of each issue. Look at those adverts for educational institutes or holiday hotels and how every advertiser gets a few paragraphs of favourable mention in the copy 'features' written by Phoenix staff writers. As evidence of the core South Dublin A and B readership that Phoenix gets its bread from look at the gossip pages. The same names of Art establishment, theatre and other glitterati people crop up again and again. Political commentary much of the time consists of unsigned gossipy Profiles of party luminaries and young hopefuls, with no critical attention to the socio-economic thinking of such individuals. Enjoy the jokes, the gossipy insider chat and the occasional muckraking exposés in Phoenix, but don't pretend that the magazine is on the side of the socially disadvantaged.

The intelligent magazine scene in Ireland is weak compared with some other countries. The noncommercial left wing magazine scene deserves a special and urgent study. Cedar Lounge Revolution and Dublin Opinion are two websites that have been focusing on left publications of the decades c. 1960 - 1985 in particular. What lessons and inspiration can be derived for the times we are living in?

author by Concerned Indymediatorpublication date Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As revealed by the Phoenix, Browne's Village lost over 1,000,000 before folding. While he may have had some capitalistic aspirations, Browne certainly was a bad capitalist.

Smith's Village is published once every two months, rather than every two weeks. It contains very little in the way of advertising. For instance the April version has a total of only 6 full page ads:

- SmileTrain
- Suites.ie
- Politics.ie
- Fexco stockbroking
- Paperwise Society
- Samsung

One charity, and five right-wing, pro-business concerns.

The lack of advertising may appear a good thing, but it also points to the fact that this magazine is operating at a loss. It is not being operated for profit, but for some other purpose entirely - propaganda.

Smith gets to pretend he is a lawyer and a journalist, by writing 'expert' opinions on environmental law, despite the fact he is not a member of the Bar or the law society, and does not lecture in law.

Gurdgiev gets to advance his right-wing views, in articles like 'Meagre Irish Revolutionism'.

MacEochaidh gets to advance his conservative Fine Gael cause, like the interview with his former running-mate, Noonan.

All paid for by whom, if not readers or advertisers?

Not only that, but there is a concerted effort to rewrite history, divide the Left, while at the same time advance the right. Browne must be sickened...one would hope anyway.

author by G McGrane - non - partypublication date Tue Oct 12, 2010 14:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In regards the state of 'left - wing' magazines on sale at the moment I, after reading about it on Cedar Lounge Revolution, picked up a copy of LookLeft Magazine in Easons, Dublin last week.

It seems, re the stamp on the front cover that it's a Workers' Party publication but it's editorial line is broad left - Labour even have opinion pieces in this issue!

Former Village writer kevin Brannigan is labelled as being on the editorial team and as the production manager.

What I'm trying to say I suppose is that this seems to be the only 'left-wing' magazine outwith party publications out there at the moment. The Village turn around has been disappointing to say the least hopefully Lookleft can become what is needed.


author by Concerned Indymediatorpublication date Tue Oct 12, 2010 21:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is Barrington really no longer with Village?

I like the following quote in the 'About us' section of Lookleft which is especially apt for Village Magazine and Michael Smith:

“There is of course freedom of the press in Ireland, if you own a press.” – Tomás Mac Giolla, 1988.

Related Link: http://www.lookleftonline.org/about/
author by Cheap Mondaypublication date Thu Oct 14, 2010 16:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yep - it looks as though Barrington and some others have jumped ship from Village to Lookleft. Interesting developments.

author by Concerned Indymediatorpublication date Fri Oct 15, 2010 17:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This topic is being discussed on Political World, and it seems that there is some confusion as to who has or hasn't jumped ship from Village. http://www.politicalworld.org/showthread.php?t=4749

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