I am crying, writing this*

A laurel, and hearty handshake to everyone long-listed for this year’s Irish Blog Awards. I mean that sincerely, even to the blogs I’ve never heard of or don’t like.

Neither AdamMaguire.com nor Dáil30.ie got onto the list, which is a little sad but far from a surprise. Both blogs, particularly Dáil30.ie, have been treading water over the last few months and I’m sensible enough to admit that there’s little to be rewarded. Put it this way; I couldn’t honestly nominated either blog for ‘Best Anything’, so how could anyone else?

Of course I do hope Dáil30.ie will be an actual project as opposed to an idea by 2009 and that this site will have found its feet once and for all. Then I’ll be super-pissed at all of you if I don’t win everything going, even Best Craft Blog (podcast production is a craft).

Naturally I’ll be there on March 1st come rain or shine, hopefully you lot will be too and it’ll be a chance to meet and/or catch up.

* I’m not really crying, I was sobbing. There’s a difference.

A senior source at IBA HQ has told me…

An hour ago I received a phonecall.

“I have information that could be big. Meet me at the McDonalds car park at 6pm sharp. I’ll be dressed as a covert spy. Don’t be late.”

The caller hung up before I could compose myself and say a word.

What should I do? Was this for real? Was this a joke or worse, a trap?

As a journalist I had no choice but to find out, I concluded. I had to go no matter what.

I got myself ready, left a note explaining my whereabouts just in case of the worst and put ’999′ on speed-dial.

What happened next, I can only disclose to you vaguely for obvious reasons.

There were codewords uttered and beige trenchcoats worn. Nervous glances were exchanged. As was a bulky envelope.

“For your own good, get this information out there as soon as possible in as many places as possible – if anyone asks, you don’t know who gave it to you.”

That’s all that was said. I nodded, and instantly began to run back to base.

The following content speaks for itself. This is explosive stuff. This is the longlist for the IBA2008 Best Newcomer Award.

(click the link below to read it)

Continue reading →

Falling Slowly is good to go

As Jim noted earlier, the “Falling Slowly Saga”, as I’ve just dubbed it now, is over.

I got this email response to a query I lodged with the Academy on Monday afternoon:

The Academy’s Music Branch Executive Committee has met and endorsed the validity of “Falling Slowly” as a nominated achievement. The committee relied on written assurances and detailed chronologies provided by the songwriters of “Falling Slowly,” the writer/director of ONCE and Fox Searchlight.

The genesis of the picture was unusually protracted, but director John Carney and songwriter Glen Hansard were working closely together in 2002 when the project that became ONCE was first discussed. “Falling Slowly” began to be composed, but the actual script and financing for the picture were delayed for several years, during which time Mr. Hansard and his collaborator Marketa Irglova played the songs in some European venues. Such previous uses were deemed local enough and minor enough to be inconsequential to the song’s eligibility.

So there you go.

Meta-Viral

So a couple of days ago a video pops up on the internet of a TV news blooper where a bird craps in a reporter’s mouth while he’s on location.

Here:

It seems pretty real up until the “money shot”, at which point the reporter’s reaction seems a little staged.

Unsurprisingly, the newly released “Behind The Scenes” video reveals that it is actually a staged viral video and not a real blooper.

So what’s the product being marketed here? Eh…

So to summarise, the original video was actually a viral of a fake news report, created to promote a viral video which promoted a fake soft drink – all of which was produced to promote a comedy website.

It’s an interesting parody on viral marketing that shows how the technique has passed its tipping point.

I remember writing an article about an Irish viral campaign not too long ago. Somewhat ignorantly of me, I didn’t explain the concept of viral marketing as well as I should have in the original draft, committing the cardinal sin of journalistic assumption. As as result someone in the office asked me to explain viral marketing in a nutshell, which I found slightly harder to do than I had expected. Something tells me if I were writing that article today such an explanation wouldn’t be nearly as necessary.

Is ‘Falling Slowly’ really being investigated?

I picked up The Sunday Tribune today largely because of the front-page reference to ‘Falling Slowly’, the freshly Oscar-nominated song from surprise Irish hit ‘Once’.

The front-page lead-in reads “Could Once be disqualified? – Irish film’s Oscar hopes in doubt” with the headline of the article itself (written by Una) reading “Hollywood probe to decide if ‘Once’ song is eligible for Oscar”.

The rules in question are available here with the important bit relating to this nomination reading:

An original song consists of words and music, both of which are original and written specifically for the film. There must be a clearly audible, intelligible, substantive rendition (not necessarily visually presented) of both lyric and melody, used in the body of the film or as the first music cue in the end credits.

So here are the facts – ‘Falling Slowly’ first saw the light of day on ‘The Swell Season’, an album released by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová in April 2006. It subsequently appeared on The Frames’ ‘The Cost’, released in Ireland in September 2006 and, according to The Sunday Tribune, was on the trailer for Czech film ‘Beauty in Trouble’ in October 2006. The film ‘Once’ was released a few months later, March 2007 to be precise. ‘The Swell Season’ album originates from sessions performed by Hansard and Irglová at the request of director Jan HÅ™ebejk, who wanted songs for his upcoming film (the aforementioned ‘Beauty In Trouble’).

‘Once’, which was filmed over a 17-day period in January 2006; months before ‘The Swell Seasons’ or ‘Beauty In Trouble’ came out – something that wasn’t mentioned in The Sunday Tribune article.

From this muddled time-line it seems as though the only revelation that could disqualify the song would be if it could be proven that either ‘Beauty In Trouble’ or ‘The Swell Season’ were wrapped and fully produced before Hansard was approached by John Carney in relation to ‘Once’. Given the respective release dates of the two, that seems unlikely.

After all, even if the reality is far different, Hansard can easily claim that he wrote ‘Falling Slowly’ for ‘Once’ at any time as long as it can be shown that he was aware of the film’s production. It doesn’t matter where or when the song was used after that fact. Even if the first proper recording of ‘Falling Slowly’ was the one made for ‘The Swell Seasons’, the only important aspect is what it was written for in the first place.

However my question isn’t whether an investigation could discover anything – it’s whether there’s one happening at all. The thing that’s most suspect about the existence of any “Hollywood probe” is the fact that the aforementioned article makes no reference whatsoever to any aspect of the investigation, nor does it quote any Academy official (named or unnamed). Indeed John Carney himself is quoted on the matter but he seems to be equally unaware of any investigation, saying he hasn’t been contacted by the Academy. While he does say “we’re all discussing that at the moment to get clear, exactly, and figure this out”, that doesn’t refer to anything of substance that could lead one to believe that an investigation is imminent or expected.

So is this a non-story? Wouldn’t the eligibility of something not be sorted out well in advance of it getting nominated? Wouldn’t the likes of John Carney be the first port of call to an investigator trying to establish the exact origin of a song?

Only time will tell, I guess.

edit: Speaking of non-stories, “Irish man from the telly has opinion about other Irish man from the telly”

Update: There’s a speculative (and mildly misinformed at times) post on a New York Times blog about this – the post seems to have been made before Una’s article was printed on Sunday. (Thanks to Derek for the link).

A comment on that post suggests that the movie was screened before either CD appeared on the shelves, which is quite possible.

Another blogger at the Sun Times in the US has picked up on the issue too – again there’s no sign of anything solid coming out from the Academy, just the online echo chamber in full swing.

Nominations for the IBA2008

In case you hadn’t already noticed, the nomination process for the Irish Blog Awards 2008 is well under way and is indeed nearly finished phase 1.

So if you haven’t already you really should get over there before Friday and put forward your nominations for the various awards. You don’t have to nominate someone for all the categories, in fact you could just put a nomination forward for one category and nothing else, but if you fail to put your hat in the ring now you’ll have nothing to complain about when your favourite sites get overlooked.

If you’re feeling extra enthusiastic you can also put yourself forward to judge the nominations… or you could even sponsor one of the few remaining unsponsored categories.

Either way, it’s one of the few Irish web-focused awards that isn’t pay-to-play and isn’t run by those shadowy figures in dark and smoky rooms, so take advantage of it and play your part.

Irish Times merges print and web operations

According to The Sunday Tribune (and via Greenslade), The Irish Times Ltd. has merged its print and internet news rooms in recent weeks, as part of a move towards becoming Ireland’s first 24-hour newsroom.

Ireland.com had previously been operated by a subsidiary of The Irish Times Ltd. called Itronics Ltd, but will now integrate with the main newspaper’s editorial team.

The Irish Times has long been one of the more notable players in the Irish online news arena, ignoring the pay-wall, and it’s an interesting but inevitable (and logical) development for them to merge operations with a view to becoming a ’round-the-clock player.

Surely other operators in the media will be paying attention to the move but won’t want to be left too far behind either, so expect this to be mimicked sooner rather than later. The big question, however, is whether RTÉ will see fit to do likewise with their online news operations, which are currently completely independent of the rest of RTÉ News.

TV3’s new current affairs programme debuts tonight

Initially meant to begin airing in late 2007, TV3‘s Nightly News with Vincent Browne is to finally debut tonight at around 11pm.

The programme replaces the station’s News Tonight programme, which was a straight-forward news round-up, and promises to “go behind the headlines to take an in-depth look at the stories of the day”, whatever that means.

It is certainly filling a small gap in the market in terms of a news feature-driven nightly programme, however whether it simply wraps up the days news or tries to actually break stories remains to be seen.

It seems as though a reasonable investment has been made in the programme, at least in the context of TV3′s journalistic output. Joining Browne will be Newstalk‘s Karen Coleman and Brian O’Donovan, who has been promoted up through the ranks of TV3 News to this more senior position.

Nightly News… is also the jewel in the crown of a TV3 News revamp which kicks off today.

The exact format is still unclear but by the spiel on their website it seems to be covering all bases – the day’s news is reviewed, there’s original content like interviews and in-depth reports, there’ll also be analysis, sport, weather and finally the newspaper previews (which is unique in itself). All of TV3′s dependables will make a showing too, such as Ursula Halligan, Alan Cantwell and Colette Fitzpatrick.

The show will be interesting to watch on a number of levels – firstly to see how Browne makes the transition to TV, secondly to see what direction the overall programme is looking to take and thirdly to see if TV3′s new owners really are serious about investing in homegrown content and current affairs. We’ll have a better idea of all three by midnight.

(by the way, Jim is taking bets on what will happen on tonight’s show – some very tempting odds on some of those bets too).