UL seminars see students hear from media experts on major industry changes

Eric Clarke, Communications Officer at Limerick City and County Council

The talks were a vital tool to young journalists who are about to enter the working world.

The Media Challenges in the Digital Age seminar series was offered as a module to UL students this past Spring/Summer semester. The series of talks saw influential figures in Limerick’s media landscape give the students a fascinating insight into the way the industry that they hope to work in is changing.

The module covered topical issues such as the role of AI in news as well as how the landscape is changing, with legacy titles like the Limerick Leader having to adapt to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive field.

One of the guest speakers was Eric Clarke, Communications Officer at Limerick City and County Council, who spoke about his recent pivot from TV broadcasting with Virgin Media to PR for local government.

He told the students: “I was told I was ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ or that I had ‘turned to the dark side’ meaning PR.”

Defending the council against some common criticisms that they face, Mr Clarke said that working in local government opened his eyes to the sheer volume of work people do there – contrary to what some members of the public say, he explained.

Eric said: “No one I can think of is sitting on their backside in there.”

He talked the group through some of his main responsibilities as a communications officer, lots of which would overlap with journalism although the ultimate goal is quite different.

The students were told how many of the skills that go into both jobs are very similar, but the end goal is different. Journalism is, at its core, about reporting the full, unbiased truth. PR is about protecting the image or reputation of a particular person or brand.

It was clear that Clarke, who left the students with a somewhat more positive outlook on the work done by the council, is committed to his new role.

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