Entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave will donate at least €100,000 to student journalists in the form of grants over the next decade, he announced two weeks ago.
The Web Summit founder tweeted that he would contribute the money in “bursaries for student muckrakers over the next 10 years,” on the 20th January, and has since announced that he “might try make it €200,000.”
“All cash. Personally I think very wide distribution, so small amounts of money into many student hands for singular stories/investigations within a framework of areas of public interest,”
Cosgrave tweeted, later adding that he would work with student journalists to determine the bursary’s details by March.
The announcement came as a surprise to many of the Irish journalists Cosgrave regularly debates on Twitter, due to the fact that Cosgrave has been publicly critical of the profession in the past.
Shortly before his bursary tweet Cosgrave called Irish Daily Star journalist Michael O’Toole a “hack” and broadly labelled journalists as “groupies”, “toadies” and “charming lickspittles”.
“Much of the Irish media operates as a sort of propaganda arm for elite interests” Cosgrave tweeted, also likening RTE, The Irish Times and the Irish Independent to Pravda, the Soviet Union’s propaganda newspaper.
Many journalists hit back at Cosgrave’s association of journalism with “elites” by sharing personal experiences of the financial and social difficulties they faced during college and finding a stable job in journalism.
Tweets like “Single parent family from a Waterford council estate. SUSI grant… Lucky breaks and a hard working mam got me through,” from Sean Defoe likely influenced Cosgrave’s decision to donate.
Dawn Wheatley, Assistant Professor in the DCU School of Communications, welcomed the bursary but acknowledged the lack of details that are known publicly as of yet.
“Although a gesture of 100,000 looks like quite a lot, when you break that down over a decade that’s 10,000 a year. How many students will actually benefit from this and what way will it be doled out? It’s a little early to cast judgement but I welcome the extra funding.”
Until the funding rolls out in March, student “lickspittles” will have to bide their time to see if Cosgrave has truly turned over a new leaf, or if his contempt for the profession will continue and his Twitter account will take one stance on journalists and his bank account the opposite.
Jamie Mc Carron
Image Credit: WikiMedia