Monday, September 17, 2012
Free Speech, Free Market
And so, the Irish Daily Star published photos of England's future queen en deshabille. Very much deshabille-ed, in that the Duchess of Cambridge was sunbathing without her bikini top.
Pictures that the British press refused to publish, after a French gossip rag had already done so, made the photos that much more valuable. Plenty of prurient interest exists in England, and not being able to see something scandalous made some people want to see the snapshots all the more.
A decision made at the lower levels of Irish Daily Star authority was based on financial considerations. Hey look we've got those photos! Buy our paper! It's not far from your British eyes, just across the Irish Sea!
The British owners of the Dundrum-based sheet were never consulted as to whether the pictures should have been run. Neither was Denis O'Brien of INM, which jointly owns the Irish version of the Daily Star with Northern & Shell.
Michael O'Kane, editor of the Irish Daily Star, (the website is dark and cold these days) could have been stopped, but none of his superiors was listening to RTE news on Friday afternoon when he announced his intention to publish the pictures. He didn't see any reason not to. The Irish aren't part of the United Kingdom, now, are they? Kate isn't in line to be the Queen of the Irish any time soon, right?
Northern & Shell has threatened to close the Irish Daily Star, while INM insists such a reaction is excessive.
But can the tabloid survive an avalanche of official inquiries?
It's a fare bet that Mr. O'Kane will be looking for employment elsewhere in the near future. His decision to publish the pictures relies on a loophole in the code of conduct for Irish journalists, but who would agree that reproducing half-naked pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge on holiday is in the public interest?