November talks

Going to do two Dancing About Architecture talks in November, with the venue TBC.

The first one will be on How To Make Good Radio.

The second will be decided by feedback from those who have attended previous talks and/or anyone interested in attending these two new ones. So if anyone has any ideas, feel free to suggest them in the comment section or on Twitter (I’m @UnaMullally)


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Finally getting around to writing a ‘conclusion’ post on Dancing About Architecture. The five evenings over five weeks wrapped up last Tuesday. Thanks so much to everyone who came down, asked a question, made a point, or just contributed by being there. I hope you got something out of it. Big up McGrattan’s for giving us the space for free. And, of course, a big thank you to Jim Carroll, Patrick Freyne, Susan Daly, Niall Byrne, Markham Nolan, Kathy Sheridan, Shane Hegarty, Nadine O’Regan, Stephen Collins, Lise Hand, Shane Coleman, Jacqui Hurley and Miguel Delaney. The main element of these talks is always going to be the guest speakers, so I really appreciate people taking time out of their busy lives to impart their advice and experience for free. Merci.

I guess it was ambitious to run something based on the idea of ‘Journalism 101’, but in five weeks, we covered a lot of ground. Always in the background was a general uncertainty, primarily about the future of journalism. Topics were raised that simply weren’t really that major on the agenda when I left college seven years ago; how long should you work for a profitable organisation for free, are you better off emigrating to get experience, when will newspapers no longer be in existence, and so on.

We’re living in a post-‘staffer’ world, where more and more journalists are freelancers, more and more work across multiple forms of media, and more and more have to build portfolio careers, a network of safety net gigs and constantly diversify. There’s a conflict between being a jack of all trades and the master of a niche and the traditional trajectory from working your way up through regional to national media has shifted online, working your way up through individual to group media.

But some things remain the same. As stressed again and again, the mediums might change, the manner of readership, distribution and publishing might change, but many of the skills remain the same. Old fashioned spelling and grammar, subbing, building a decent contacts book, maintaining relationships with sources, delivering on time, being reliable, figuring out the line between hassling commissioning editors and being persistent, turning around copy quickly, developing the ability to express an opinion, writing well, making mistakes early on and learning from them, listening to feedback, developing an entertaining style, seeing your work edited and learning from it, pitching well, gaining experience from starting small and growing bigger, reading, watching and listening to people better than you and seeing how they do things, checking your facts – these skills have always been the foundation skills for journalism. Employment opportunities and the type of employment offered might change, but these skills remain the same.  There might be less jobs, but there is always work for people who have these skills, are good, reliable, enthusiastic and, perhaps most importantly, work hard.

Some of the feedback I got from people (generally on smoke breaks or emails after the evening’s talk) related to the hours journalists work. It’s one of the most time-intensive jobs out there, and it’s good that people starting out realise the level of commitment they have to maintain to give it a decent shot.

I hope the people who came down learned some stuff, or at the very least that it offered some points for people to mull over. Feel free to add your feedback in the comments section.

I will be doing a few more individual Dancing About Architecture talks (as in not part of a series like this latest clutch of them) over the coming months and the summer. If you feel like there are any specific topics worth knocking around, let me know.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Journalism 101: Week 4

Tonight, we’re getting our politricks on: Stephen Collins, political editor at the Irish Times, Lise Hand of the Irish Independent, and Shane Coleman, political editor of Newstalk will be heading to McGrattans to dish out advice on how to become a political reporter, what it takes, how they did it and how you can do it too.

Lise, Stephen and Shane are three of the finest political journalists in the country, so it’s a privilege to host them. Also, thanks to the world’s most elongated process that is publication of the Mahon Tribunal report that it didn’t drop today as otherwise this event would have been toast, or at the very least delayed until another date.

Like last week, when Kathy Sheridan, Shane Hegarty and Nadine O’Regan spoke about the skills one needs to make it as a feature writer (for Kathy, it’s about looking into the whites of people’s eyes, getting out and talking to people), hopefully this evening, we’ll get an outline of the sort of skill set someone needs to have Kildare Street as their beat.

I’ll see you in McGrattans.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Journalism 101: Week 3

Tomorrow night sees the awesome Kathy Sheridan, Shane Hegarty and Nadine O’Regan taking to the, eh, stage, of Dancing About Architecture: Journalism 101 under the heading Feature Writing and Commissioning. Really looking forward to this one, hopefully there will be loads of decent, practical advice on improving your feature writing and how to get it published.

Once again, thanks to the trio above for giving up their time for free to talk to you guys.

Last week’s talk New-New Journalism was pretty enlightening, I think you’ll all agree. It was great to hear some behind the scenes stuff about how Storyful works, what TheJournal does and how Nialler9 has built a personal brand. And also, as ever, it throws up even more questions about the changing organisational structure and face of journalism. One thing that stuck in my head was both Susan and Markham agreeing on the fact that before you can be a good ‘new’ journalist, you need to be a good ‘old’ one, so while mining massive amounts of data, coding, and being a social media whizz are still very desirable skills, you also need to know your subbing, spelling, grammar and stories to have a decent foundation in order to make it in journalism, in whatever format, medium, or outlet you choose.

Feel free to add in the comments section what you guys think of what has been discussed over the past two weeks, and whether you’ve gathered any information you feel to be particularly valuable from Critic School and New New Journalism.

I’ll see you guys Tuesday evening, same time, same place.

If you still haven’t signed up, just drop a mail to


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Journalism 101: Week 2

Just a quick post on how the second installment of Dancing About Architecture, a five-part course titled ‘Journalism 101’ is going.

Last week, Jim Carroll and Patrick Freyne kindly gave up their time to chat on the topic of ‘Critic School’, what makes a good critic, how to be one, and how they got where they are. We had a full house upstairs in McGrattans, and the discussion seemed to engage people and spawn questions and conversations about criticism in general, music writing, TV reviewing, pitching, commissioning, how to break the cycle of writing for free, getting a foot in the door, and how to get better at writing in this arena in general.

There seemed to be plenty of positive feedback from the evening, so unless you’re all prolific liars (in which case, welcome to journalism) I think it went well. Apart from people chatting on Twitter about it and emailing me etc, there have been a couple of more lengthy dissections of the event, like this blog post by James Hendicott.

One thing that strikes me as something that’s going to be a constant theme throughout these five weeks, is that every time we’re talking about this stuff, we’re talking in the context of an industry that’s in dramatic flux. Friends and colleagues of mine in journalism – even people with relatively secure jobs, if you can call them that anymore – talk about the dodgy future of the industry, the financial pressures, whether online and print can coexist or whether it’s some sort of journalistic land-grab,  the fact that print is essentially a sunset industry, possible exit strategies from journalism, how to make journalism part of a wider career, and so on. So it’s important to consider this context while talking about the basics of getting a foot in the door. It’s harder to get your foot in when the doors themselves are flying all around that place like that door chase scene in Monsters Inc.

That’s why in many ways I think you create your own doors. I am not referring to Skrillex’s collaboration with The Doors. That’s an entirely different topic. Something that I said last week (I think) is that never before has it been so easy to get your name out there if you’re good at what you do. The ability to self-publish and indeed self-publicise has been completely democratised by the online tools we’re already familiar with. Journalists starting out are now their own gatekeepers, and while the concept of staff jobs and jobs for life is pretty much over in the industry, on the flipside, no longer do people have to spend as much time relentlessly pushing to get their work out there in a limited number of places. The places to write are expanding, as are, as Jim pointed out last week, the places where commissioning editors are looking for new writers.

But this new dawn also brings a new set of problems; an adjustment in style and writing for a start, a change in reporting from something very street-level to something that can be more about harvesting, interpreting, filtering, directing to, and aggregating content. People starting out are working for free more and for longer. Experienced journalists who have already done their time are working longer hours for less dosh. New skills have to be learned, new ways of thinking adapted. And again, all with the backdrop of an industry where some outlets are making strides towards the future, and others are chasing their tails.

It’s with all of this white noise buzzing in the background that we enter week two of Journalism 101, ‘New-New Journalism’. Susan Daly, the editor of, Markham Nolan of Storyful, and Dancing About Architecture returnee Nialler9 will be there this evening to talk about all of this, and more.

I’ll see you all in McGrattans at 7pm for what should be a sparky and informative evening.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Banter: Rip It Up And Start Again, March 1

This should be of interest to you guys.

From Jim Carroll’s blog:

The next Banter also has the makings of a lively night out. Rip It Up & Start Again gathers together a panel of journalism practitioners to look at the current state of the trade, where it goes from here, the rise of content aggregators and curators and what this means for established publications and titles. It’s a topic we’ve been meaning to return to since the infamous Publishing 2020 panel discussion back in November 2010 which got a lot of attention for what was said and argued about on the night. It’s also a theme which is very much in the ether at the moment thanks to articles like this (and thisthis and this), public discussions like this and radio show discussions like this. While there’s a lot of new media vs old media huffing and puffing going on at the moment in this debate, Rip It Up and Start Again hopes to take a much different approach to see where we go from here.

The panelists: Frank Fitzgibbon (Editor, The Sunday Times Ireland), Brian Fallon (co-founder Distilled Media andThe Journal), Gavin Sheridan (The Story.ieStoryful) and Paul Mallon (ex-deputy editor The Star On Sunday and assistant editor The Star, currently editorial manager at Paddy Power).

The discussion panel takes place at the Twisted Pepper on Thursday March 1. Doors open at 7.30pm, admission is free if you sign up to the Banter mailing list or a fiver on the door. We’re expecting a lot of interest in this one so sign up now if you’re interested in coming along.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Journalism 101: Feb 21st – March 20th

Here’s the line up of awesome guest speakers who will be imparting their advice and experience for you to digest, disagree with, get confused by, find interesting, and hopefully learn something from.

All of the people involved are very kindly giving up their time for free, and I can’t say how delighted and grateful I am that they’re all taking part because these are busy people with big workloads, so handing over two hours of their mid-week schedule is a bit of a chunk, so thank you very much to them all. Also, thanks to McGrattan’s for once again giving their upstairs room for free, I really appreciate it.

The sessions will all take place upstairs in McGrattan’s (it’s off Baggot Street, down the lane where the old Sunday Tribune office used to be, around the corner from Tesco and Doheny & Nesbitts) from 7pm until 9pm.

To take part in Dancing About Architecture, email me on so I can get an idea of numbers. First come, first serve.

February 21st
Jim Carroll
(The Irish Times, and loads more)
Jim writes about music for the Irish Times, and also runs the massively popular and award-winning Irish Times blog On The Record. Jim also runs Banter, the Phantom radio show The Far Side, and was a co-founder of the Choice Music Prize. In addition to that, Jim co-founded the record label Lakota and the online music magazine Muse, back when the internet was a baby. As the most respected music journalist in the country, Jim has plenty to say (quickly) and acres of advice to give for your brains to plough.

Patrick Freyne (The Evening Herald)
Patrick won the Critic of the Year award at the 2011 National Newspapers of Ireland’s Journalism Awards, which gives him bragging rights over all other critics in the country and controversially allows him to graze sheep on the 3rd floor of Independent House. Patrick is an astounding TV reviewer and critic, formerly of the Sunday Tribune, and now with the Evening Herald.

February 28th
Susan Daly
(The Journal)
Susan is the editor of The Journal. She was previously a columnist and feature writer with the Irish Independent, and an assistant editor and deputy news editor at the Irish Daily Star. As the editor of Ireland’s fastest growing news website, her gig is at full throttle.

Niall Byrne (Nialler9, The Irish Independent)
Niall runs the multi-award-winning blog Nialler9, which is a go to point for music fans globally. His blog was voted the 5th best music blog in the world in a poll of music blogging peers. He is an editor at State magazine and a digital columnist for the Irish Independent’s Day & Night magazine. Niall’s knowledge of new music is scary. People learn from him.

Markham Nolan (Storyful)
Markham is the Director of Outreach at Storyful. He has written for the Sunday Business Post, the Irish Times, the Sunday Times and more, was the deputy editor of the Irish Echo, and in radio has worked for NPR and American Public Radio.

March 6th
Kathy Sheridan (The Irish Times)
Kathy won Feature Writer of the Year at the 2011 National Newspapers of Ireland Journalism Awards, confirming her position as the top feature writer in the country. A real journalist’s journalist, Kathy is also the person you’ll find many if not most working Irish print journalists citing as their favourite feature writer in the country. With Frank McDonald, she co-authored the brilliant book ‘The Builders: How a Small Group of Property Developers Fuelled the Building Boom and Transformed Ireland’. Another reason to like Kathy is that she is May-Kay from Fight Like Apes’ ma.

Shane Hegarty (The Irish Times)
Shane is the arts editor for the Irish Times. He also writes a weekly column for the paper. Shane wrote the awesome book ‘The Irish (and Other Foreigners)’ which you should read. He’s also part of the Science Gallery Leonardo Group, which is full of smart people (probably) planning to take over the world right now.

Nadine O’Regan (The Sunday Business Post, Phantom 105.2fm, and loads more)
Nadine is the books and arts editor for the Sunday Business Post. She also presents the excellent arts show The Kiosk on Phantom and is an arts reporter for RTE’s arts show The Works. Nadine has also written for Spin magazine, Hotpress, Magill, the Irish Times, the Irish Independent and loads more. She possesses a rather mystical ability to appear completely serene and refreshed at music festivals.

March 13th
Lise Hand
(The Irish Independent)
Lise in her own words is a “former waitress turned stroppy hack.” Currently, she is a political opinion writer and reporter with the Irish Independent, and an all round deadly bird. She previously edited the Sunday Tribune magazine and has written for the New York Post.

Stephen Collins (The Irish Times)
One of the most respected and, indeed soundest journalists in the country, Stephen Collins is the political editor of the Irish Times. He was previously the political editor of the Sunday Tribune and of the Irish Press. He wrote the books ‘Breaking The Mould: How the PDs Changed Irish Politics’ and ‘People, Politics and Power: From O’Connell to Ahern’.

Shane Coleman (Newstalk)
Shane is the political editor of Newstalk and former political editor of the Sunday Tribune. He also presents the Sunday Show on Newstalk. Shane has written several books; ‘Foot In Mouth: Famous Irish Political Gaffes’ with Fintan Taite, ‘Up The Poll: Great Irish Election Stories’, and ‘The Dirty Dozen: 12 Scandals That Shaped the Nation’ and ‘Bertie Ahern and the Drumcondra Mafia’ with Mick Clifford. Shane is also the best dressed person in Irish journalism. Fact.

March 20th

Jacqui Hurley (RTE)
Jacqui co-presents Sunday Sport on RTE Radio 1, and also presents sports news across RTE radio and television. After working in the US for CBS Television, she worked for Live 95 in Limerick and then moved to RTE, where in 2009, still in her early 20s, she became RTE’s first ever female sports show presenter. She currently manages the Irish U-16 women’s basketball team and is a kick ass camogie player.

Miguel Delaney
Miguel is one of Ireland’s finest soccer writers, formerly of the Sunday Tribune, and currently writes for the Irish Examiner, the Irish Independent, ESPN and more. He has already checked if there’s a Champions League match on this night, and there thankfully is not. He wrote the book ‘Stuttgart To Saipan’. He also set up The Football Pantheon.

(more TBA)

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments