The National Union of Journalists has said that public interest journalism should be secured, supported and sustained and that a new model for funding is needed. 

Speaking at a webinar organised by the Future Media Commission, NUJ Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said that what was needed was support for quality journalism, to allow viewers and listeners inform their decisions as citizens. 

He also said the funding should be linked to editorial investment and conditional on the maintenance of jobs and respect for employment standards. 

The NUJ has proposed a new body for training and development aid for the industry and he said that State funding for journalism could operate at arms-length from Government, similar to the Simon Cumbers Fund or the BAI's Sound and Vision Scheme. 

The Future of Media Commission was set up by the Government in September 2020 to examine the future of the media in Ireland. This includes Ireland's public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, print and online media platforms.

Today's webinar looked at the challenges to public service media and public service content providers in an evolving landscape. 

RTÉ's Director General Dee Forbes said that public service broadcasting is key to our "sense of selves" and said that audiences have told RTÉ they want it to champion Irish culture, celebrate diversity and provide a wide range of content.

Adrian Lynch of RTÉ said audiences expect depth and scale to their news, as well as accurate content that provides context. He said that RTÉ has a centralised news function and its job is to distribute this over as many platforms as possible, and that it is also focusing on how younger audiences engage with news.

Press Ombudsman Peter Feeney spoke of the challenges posed to traditional media by social media, and said that up to 80% of advertising revenue is going online, with newspapers and legacy media left with the remaining 20% to make good journalism.

He said good journalism requires investment, and he said traditional media is a reliable source of information in public life.

In terms of social media, he said he would like to see "soft regulation" to encourage organisations themselves to deal with complaints and take down harmful material and that the online safety commissioner would only be involved if it was not taken down.

Also addressing the webinar, Dualta Ó Broin of Facebook Ireland said it is important to realise how content appears on platforms like Facebook, and that publishers and media organisations make a conscious choice to put it on their platforms.

He said they build tools that the companies can in turn use to maximise the revenue that they make, but that the real issue is the value of the traffic which is directed onto their website. 

Meanwhile, Dearbhail McDonald, speaking on behalf of the Equality Expert Group said that issues such as gender equality, diversity and class has to be addressed on public service media. 

She said her group is proposing regular tracking, measuring and reporting of these issues for both national and local media.

In its submission to the Commission, the Equality Expert Group described the under representation of women in media in Ireland as "acute", both in terms of gender portrayal across media and the under representation of women within media organisations, adding that gender equality was critical to the operation of a fair and functioning democracy.