“Nothing exciting – or dangerous – is in prospect for the (property) market over the next two or three years” – Marc Coleman (Economics Editor); The Irish Times, March 1st 2007
The current economic crisis in Ireland, though deeply rooted in Ireland’s role as a dependent economy in the European periphery, is primarily a crisis caused by the property bubble and subsequent crash. The Irish mass media, most notably the press, played an important role in the lead up to the crisis both as cheerleaders and beneficiaries of the property bubble. All major Irish newspapers include lucrative property supplements, and both the Irish Times and Independent News and Media made substantial investments in property listing websites. Unsuprisingly, the mass media and especially the press were uncritical of the hyperinflation of housing cost. In fact in the journalistic frame of housing as a speculative commodity (rather than social nessesity) price inflation was reported as a positive. Irish Journalism, blinded by market ideology, against all historical evidence, seemed convinced that the market would slowly deflate into the much vanted ‘soft landing’.
The property bubble faltered and burst in 2007/2008. The crash was met with massive government intervention both in the guaranteeing (and subsequent nationalistion) of banking debts and the creation of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) – a sort of bad bank/property company nominally established to free up banks from bad debt. In reality, as discussed by historian Conor McCabe, NAMA acted to prop up the entire edifice of property as a speculative commodity and its component financial and legal apparatii.
Since the collapse of the property bubble and the ensuing economic crisis there has been no investigation nor discussion in the Irish media about the structural deficiencies in the property system and certainly no discussion of the media’s own role within the bubble and collapse. The press and wider media have had little or nothing to say about the systematic nature of the crash, nor has the treatment of property primarily as a speculative commodity changed one iota.
In this vein, critical media review will present three articles on the media treatment of housing, property and markets. In these articles CMR will concentrate on the media’s role in the property market itself.
The first article by Henry Silke of DCU explores the role of communications and media in capitalist cycles and bubbles. This, he maintains, is a dual role of information and ideology. Information is essential for maket actors and ideology is necesscary to normalise and justify market systems. This dual role, he maintains, was evident in the role of the Irish press in the Irish property market.
The second article is a link from the mediabite website which explores the symbiotic relationship between all aspects of the property industry and the press.
Finally we link to a short blog by Sins of the Father Author Conor McCabe reminding us of the sage advice from our property ‘experts’.