Monday, 4 March 2013

The End of the Affair

The Irish-language community has been digesting the news that Foras na Gaeilge has decided to terminate its contract with the newspaper Gaelscéal prematurely, thus precipitating the publication's demise. The general decline in hard-copy sales of newspapers has been a particularly damaging development for the Irish-language press, whose sales were never large. The last few years have seen the successive ends of Foinse (as an independent weekly), and now Gaelscéal.

Meon Eile reports that Gaelscéal had previously gone to some lengths to comply with its funders' various prescriptions to make itself more relevant. Given the structural changes in how society accesses news content, that may have been an impossible task. It is clear that, in a collapsing market, consolidation has not worked as a strategy, with no easy remedies.

However, in view of the fact that Gaelscéal had gone out of its way to accede to Foras na Gaeilge's wishes, the latter's decision to end a legal contract a year early seems particularly callous.

It also dramatically reduces the availability of Irish-language news on the Internet — whose supposed expansion is Foras na Gaeilge's favoured option for the future of the sector.

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