ON-LINE media could in future be subject to regulation by the Press Council and Ombudsman, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has told journalism students at the University of Limerick.
The internet was now a major threat to traditional media, “especially newspapers”, he said.
“Should all citizens worry about this? Would it really matter if the traditional press were to collapse under the strain, would the gap be filled by online media or social media? . . .I personally think it would matter very much.”
This was in spite of his misgivings about the mainstream press, including its failure to promptly publish apologies and the malpractice being laid bare in the inquiry into phone-tapping in the UK.
The problem with online media, the minister said, was “its inhabitants are unaccountable and live in cyberspace. . . a playground for anonymous backstabbers”.
Minister Quinn’s comments in Limerick came during a week in which the controversial Rate Your Solicitor website was effectively shut down by order of the High Court.
Sligo solicitor Damien Tansey secured injunctions after taking a defamation action against the site’s alleged operators, including Bunratty man John Gill, who denies defamation.
Ahead of a full hearing, Mr Justice Michael Peart said the Government should introduce laws making it a criminal offence to post content on-line which was “patently untrue”.