Healthcare for transgender people is coming up short in many European countries, Ireland among them. For the most part, non-trans people know very little about the current situation and the effect that it is having on the lives and health of thousands of people.
As a community aid officer at Transgender Equality Network Ireland Noah Halpin is an advocate and activist trying to help other trans people to get the care they need, and a willing vocal presence in the discussion. I got him to teach me a few lessons on the subject, and I came away far more enlightened than when I started.
Keith Begg and 200 others critical of Sweden's Covid-19 mitigation strategy had a private Facebook group where they aired their opinions and discussed what to do about it. A media report about the group shot the Irishman, who is also a Swedish citizen, into the public eye, and not in a good way; described as everything from a traitor to a threat to national security, he received a threat at his home and has now left Sweden.
A throwaway tweet of mine went viral this week, prompting hundreds of replies and millions of views, but at the same time drowning out any possibility of real engagement. What have I learned from it? You can find out here...
A frankly bizarre story attacking critics of Sweden's Covid-19 strategy appeared yesterday, in which the 200 members of a closed Facebook group were all but accused of treason. The publishing of the story and the response to it says more about Sweden's national state of mind than it might wish to admit, and I was joined by epidemiologist and public health expert David Steadson to talk about the current state of play. You can read or listen to the original story here: https://sverigesradio.se/artikel/private-facebook-group-attempts-to-influence-swedish-interests-abroad
Professional boxing has always had its share of dodgy characters but the sport has never faced anything like Daniel Kinahan. A man named in Irish courts as being one of the biggest gangland figures in Europe is effectively an agent and advisor for some of the biggest names in the game - and there is a lot of silence around his burgeoning influence.
A recent BBC Panorama documentary brought his name to the fore - but will it change anything in boxing?
My first journey abroad in ten months took me to Abu Dhabi in the Middle East to cover a sporting event, where I discovered the real winners and losers can be measured in terms of how free they are to express themselves.
It's that time of the year when articles and social media posts are trying to shame us off the sofa and into the gym, using the extra weight gained over lockdown or Christmas as a stick to beat us with.
Many of us try different things to lose weight and get fit every year, but all too often we fail, which ends up feeling even worse. I spoke to professional fighter and all-round good guy Paul Redmond about foot and training, the difference between cutting weight and losing it, and how we need to educate ourselves about nutrition if we want to succeed.
An attempted coup in the seat of America's democracy finally brought the media's focus onto the far right and what it is capable of, and the final days of Trump's presidency will be a damage limitation exercise as the world scrambles to orient itself to a new normal. But will the forces that fostered his failure of a presidency just fade away? Journalist and conflict reporter Sulome Anderson, who has seen many's the "strongman" rise and fall in the Middle East, joined me to talk it over.
With parallel careers as a professional footballer and a pop star, Swedish-Irish Kevin Walker looks to have it all. His league and cup titles sit alongside his best-selling albums as major achievements that most would be envious of, but his success has come about as a result of a lifetime of hard work and overcoming a bout of blood poisoning that almost killed him. Yet again his career is at a crossroads, so we sat down for a pre-Christmas chat about sibling rivalry, singing with Robbie Williams and scoring goals in packed stadiums.
As 2020 puts on its coat and heads for the door, it leaves behind one story which has dwarfed all others this year - the Covid-19 pandemic. Many businesses and workers have been hit, and amongst the worst affected has been journalism. But while some of the ill effects have been down to the pandemic, many were simply magnifications of broken business models and mismanagement that still plague the media business. Ewan MacKenna joins me to discuss whether or not the Fourth Estate can ever recover.
Almost a week has past since Argentinian icon Diego Maradona died of a heart attack, sparking a period of grief and mourning around the world as a man who transcended sport - and sometimes life itself - was lost to us. Having been named after him, Diego Abatecola idolised Maradona as much as any other football fan, and he joined me from Buenos Aires to talk to me about the void left by the passing of a legend.
Emma Coolen is a football-loving multimedia producer whose social media skills landed her a dream job with the Dutch team at the Women's World Cup in France - what few people knew was that her other dream was to play for them. After changing her life at the age of 20 she was well on the road to a professional career when another dream opportunity came up as part of a BT Sport TV series about women's football, but as Oscar Wilde once said, there are two tragedies in life - one is not getting what you want, and the other is getting it...
As a kid Pannie Kianzad wasn't one for team sports, preferring the solitude of the swimming pool to more social setting of the soccer pitch. And when she and her girlfriends were trying to find a way to keep fit, she didn't let their lukewarm feelings for trying out boxing turn her off - she went along and tried it by herself, and it has taken her all the way to a career as a professional mixed martial artist in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
A former intern for then-senator Hilary Clinton back in 2006, Noel Rock was elected to Ireland's parliament but retained his interest in American politics, and he joined me to pick over the results, the rhetoric and the road to recovery in the wake of what turned out to be a presidential election for the ages.
As America still counts its votes, I sought the counsel of two women in the media that I have enormous respect for - Áine O'Neill, an Irishwoman who has recently moved to Los Angeles, and Stephanie Brumsey, a Black journalist who works in New York and covered the Trump inauguration.
They told me what the atmosphere is like on both coasts, and how - still - hope of a better future is what will help us endure.
As a teenager Johanna Karlsson got so far under the skin of a local newspaper editor that he gave her an album to review to see if she could do it better. Turned out she could, and thus a career in journalism was born.
Johanna has always taken the road less travelled, and one of her best-known stories centred on the restaurant business in Malmö and how power, money and influence rooted in the restaurants of the city's Möllevången district echoed all the way Bangladesh.
It was a spicy tale of cheap beer, child brides and marriages of convenience, but ultimately it was about the price people seeking a better life would be prepared to pay. For some, it would be very high indeed.
For ten years Sweden's Jonas Jerebko carved out a career as one of the 450 players in the toughest, most competitive basketball league in the world - the NBA. A gritty, hard-scrabble player as a rookie, he added a silky outside shot and became a key part of teams that made it to the conference finals in both the East and the West, and he came tanatalisingly close to winning a championship ring with the Golden State Warriors.
Now playing for Khimki in Russia, he talks about playing with some of the greats, the passing of Kobe Bryant and how he's still in the game to win that elusive ring...
The history of Northern Ireland is bloody, complicated and understood by few, and it has often been told by outsiders.
No longer. Documentary-maker Seán Murray tells the stories of his community in West Belfast, talking to the victims of violence and exposing the bigotry, brutality and sheer bloody-mindedness that was at the heart of the conflict.
Yet in an era where much crowing is done about freedom of speech, many don't want to hear the voices that Seán brings us from their unquiet graves. So what are they trying to keep from us?
Dublin in the late 80s was a hotbed of creativity and, for a while at least, no band was hotter than Guernica. Starting out in the mould of Joy Division and New Order, they morphed into a powerful live band driven by guitars and synths, and the rock-solid rhythm section of Darragh Broe on drums and Derek Lee on bass.
At the mic stand was Joe Rooney, who later later find fame as a comedian and actor, but back then he was an enigmatic frontman and with a stunning album in the can, the band were seemingly destined for great things. A sudden split brought that dream crashing down, and the reverberations still echo sometimes in the lives of those who were part of the story.
Back then I was a teenage hangaround who idolised Darragh, Joe and the lads, and when I heard that now, over 30 years later, that never-released album may finally see the light of day, I had to talk to Joe to fill in some of the blanks of a story. For all its disappointment and tragedy, it was and is an electrifying and inspiring tale that left us with music and memories. Even though Darragh passed away in 2009, his son David - also a drummer - is a driving force in ensuring that the world is reminded of his father and of that brief, glorious time when Dublin could lay claim to being the creative capital of the world.
As journalists and editors we have a terrible habit of making the same mistakes over and over and over again, especially when it comes to reporting on the far right. We think we are showing them up for the buffoons they are, but we are actually giving legitimacy to ideas that should have been dead and buried at the end of the second World War.
This week's podcast outlines the seven deadly sins of modern media and journalism, from the Free Speech Fallacy to the Privilege Blanket and all points in between.
Long hailed as a paragon of social democracy, Sweden is one of the only countries in the world - perhaps the only - where limited companies can profit from running schools. In a free-market project based on schools vouchers that proved a step too far even for Augusto Pinochet's Chile, pupils are treated as customers and choice is paramount.
But while all that sounds good to parents and indeed shareholders, who are banking millions in profits, the law of unintended consequences has had a hugely negative impact on a school system that was once among the world's best.
Not only are the Social Democrats not doing anything to change the system, they are actually not allowed to talk about it at all thanks to the agreement that is keeping their weak government in power.
Today's lesson is from Åsa Plesner and is a cautionary tale for what can happen when vital structures in society are opened up to the free market.
On the whole, fear is a good thing - it's what helps us stay alive in dangerous situations. But it's also used to manipulate how we think, how we feel - and how we vote.
Arash Javanbakht is an associate professor at Wayne University, and he is an expert in fear, trauma and PTSD. He explained the nuts and bolts of fear to me, how it works in the tribal context and what that means for the upcoming American presidential election.
John Karalis of MassLive.com and the Locked On Celtics podcast joined me to talk about Black Lives Matter, the NBA bubble and how the players are exerting their power of American politics as the election approaches.
Covid has played havoc with the work of journalists, especially those of us involved in sports. I talked to Second Captains football kingpin Ken Early about nostalgia, crowd noise and having your calendar Tipp-Exed out of existence by the pandemic.
As you will no doubt be aware, I'm trying to fund a project to do "Outside It's America," which is 50 podcasts from America's 50 states in 50 days, ending up in New York on polling day in the presidential election there.
No-one likes to support something sight unseen (or indeed sound unheard!), so this week's podcast is something of a prequel - an interview I recorded a few years back with Angus McIntosh about America's love affair with guns.
This is the kind of conversation I hope to be having in America in a few weeks' time, but I can only do it if you support the campaign on Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/projects/philip…-states-50-days
Have a great week!
Reporting on sexual violence is complex and knowing who owns the story and what it means to them is key to doing it justice. Student journalist Kamron Clarke has written brilliantly about the phenomenon.
The Black Lives Matter movement has made people of colour more visible and offered new opportunities for them to make their voices heard - is this a turning point, or a flash in the pan?
Broadcaster and public speaker Wuraola Majekodunmi joined me to talk about how she sees modern Irish media and where it's headed.
As a child Paul Howard dreamed of covering a World Cup - luckily for him, that dream came true as a journalist, but it turned out to be a lot different to what he expected.
One of Ireland's most successful authors, Paul spoke to me to share some memories of covering sporting events around the globe...
Born in Cairo to a family of diplomats, Heba Habib got used to developing different perspectives. As a journalist now living in Sweden during the Covid -19 pandemic, she has observed the similarities and differences as societies she knows well struggle to cope for a variety of different reasons.
She joined me in the #OMIS studio to talk about her work and how it is being affected by a world constantly changing.
Among anyone who knows anything about MMA media, Esther Lin is widely acknowledged as the GOAT - the Greatest Of All Time - among combat sports photographers. Soft-spoken yet uber-competitive, she told me about her background as a documentary-maker, how she got into photography and how storytelling is an integral part of taking and making photos.
Photographer Kai Pfaffenbach recently won a Nobel prize together with his Reuters colleagues for his coverage of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. He told me about being self-taught, surviving in the field, and how the art of taking a great news photo is sometimes as simple as being in the right place at the right time.
During a decade of social upheaval in Ireland, two referendums have been passed that have granted marriage equality to LGBT people and removed the constitutional ban on abortion. Una Mullally is an Irish journalist, podcaster and author who found herself thrust into the limelight, especially in the marriage equality debate, putting her in a somewhat unique position of documenting these historic changes while also playing a part in them.
From a youthful fascination with wrestling and getting paid in beer to commentate to becoming the voice of Cage Warriors and calling the UFC London card, Brad Wharton's ability to make viewers feel the atmosphere has made him one of the sport's most sought-after men on the mic.
We spoke about how he got started, having empathy for those in the cage and what makes a great commentator in one of the world's fastest-growing sports.
There's a lot of people As the Covid-19 pandemic grips the globe, there's a lot of people working - including journalists, broadcasters, experts and interviewees, and the standard of set up has been, shall we say, less than brilliant.
With that in mind I spoke to sports broadcaster par excellence Niall McGrath, who is currently revamping his home studio, about how best to improve your home broadcasting set-up.
Whether you're being interviewed or into gaming or YouTubing, there's a wealth of information that will help you look and sound better and more professional - and it won't cost the earth (although it will if Niall has his way...!).
On the latest episode of the Our Man In Stockholm Podcast, I spoke to journalist and historian Sid Lowe about how he got started writing about football, coping in these Covid-19 times and making an impression on a certain Spice Girl's husband...
This week I talked to Sarah Colgan of 20x20, an initiative to raise the awareness of and participation in Irish sport - from modest beginnings, their campaign has really changed the game in Ireland, and there are definitely lessons that can be learned elsewhere.
From 1930s cartoons depicting the Jews as sly, hooked-nosed figures to conspiracy theories about Mossad interfering in modern elections and the "Great Replacement", antisemitism may have morphed and changed over the years, but it has seemingly always been with us - and the media still struggles to deal with it.
There is a new, coded language in use, but the message remains the same - the Jews wield enormous power, but are not to be trusted.
With that in mind, I spoke to Jacob Woolf on his return from the World Jewish Congress in New York to find out exactly what modern antisemitism looks like and how it manifests itself in the modern media and political spheres.
In the interview he mentions the work of an organisation called Jews For Economic And Racial Justice - you can read their document "Understanding Antisemitism: An Offering To Our Movement" here.
I got a delivery of some new podcast equipment this week, so to test it out I decided to go through the 13 ethical rules of journalism observed by the Swedish Union Of Journalists.
The sound may not be perfect just yet, but the 13 rules are well worth exploring, and I try to give practical examples of situations in which they might apply - and some of them will surprise you...
Trans people and the issues facing them are one of the hottest cultural topics and/or battlefields we have at the moment, for a variety of reasons, and I for one don't mind admitting that I know so little about the subject that I'm embarrassed.
Rather than coming out with my own ill-informed hot takes and adding to the ever-grown pile of steaming manure that passes for mainstream media journalism on the subject, I decided - hang on to your hats here - to ask a trans person to explain some things to me first.
Aoife Martin is an Irish trans woman, activist and patient educator of the terminally ill-informed like myself, and I spoke to her about how we should be covering her life and the lives of people like her, and how best to respectfully engage.
Ken Robertson is the man who has created some of the most attention-grabbing and eye-catching marketing and advertising campaigns in history - there's barely a person in the UK, Ireland or beyond who hasn't been enthralled, appalled or both by his work during almost two decades coming up with campaigns for bookmakers Paddy Power.
Now the owner of a new agency in Dublin called The Tenth Man, I asked Ken to reflect on his life as an advertiser and marketer and about creativity, how it works and what is needed for it to survive and thrive.
The first of a number of podcasts this week, looking at the general reporting around the Irish election and how the accents of those speaking on TV and radio and the positions they hold tell us how broken our media is.
Conor McGregor, Kobe Bryant and Rory Best have all been in the eye of the media storm in their careers, and all have been redeemed to some degree - but why do some get forgiven, and others not? Who decides when they are welcome back into the fold? And is there anything that is irredeemable in this modern media world?
Guitar player Dave Browne is the greatest Irish musician you may never have heard of - despite the fact that he holds three Guinness world records and plays to countless thousands of people every year.
Born in Dublin and raised in Cuffe Street, the lightning-fingered Dub played all 50 American states in under 40 days together with singer and songwriter Dave Rooney, and a brilliant documentary about their escapade called "This Is My Home" will soon be hitting a screen near you.
I caught up with Dave in his local casino to talk about life and how he became one of the hardest-working musicians on the Las Vegas strip.
"Russian interference" is a new thing for many democracies, but since independence the Finns have worried about other countries spreading disinformation and trying to manipulate their political system.
I spoke to Mikko Salo of Faktabaari about how the Finns are tackling the problem of "fake news" with fact-checking and education - whisper it, but their approach seems to be working...
There are many routes into journalism and not all of them go via formal training - Seán Sheehan (aka The Pod God, aka Seánie Podcast) has become one of the most respected and high-profile Irish sports podcasters through his passionate love of sport (especially MMA) and his unique ability to cause a row in an empty house.
A trained mathematician and economist, Seán is also working good numbers on the Patreon platform to keep the lights on at Severe MMA, so we spoke about passion, sport and trying to make money in journalism as we looked back at 2019.
Despite seemingly overwhelming evidence of their avarice and incompetence, the British voters have given the Conservative party an overall majority following their general election. Reflections on an election where feelings were far more important than facts.
NBA player Kyrie Irving caused a stir last week when he reacted to criticism from Boston fans over his off-season move to Brooklyn on Instagram. He might make millions of dollars a year playing a game, but that doesn't make him - or anyone else - immune from harsh words.
I talked to ex-basketball pro-turned-sports journalist John Karalis about living in that bubble, the responsibilities we have when it comes to critiquing performances, and how much criticism we ourselves must be prepared to take for our work.
As the man behind the riffs on some of ABBA's most iconic hits, there is barely a person on the face of the earth who hasn't heard Janne Schaffer play guitar - but there's a whole lot more to the Stockholm fret king than just the pop songs loved by billions.
Almost five decades into a career that has seen him share a stage with everyone form Cliff Richard to Pink Floyd, the 74-year-old's passion for music and performing still burns as brightly as ever.
We met in Stockholm where we talked about becoming one of Sweden's best-known and best-loved musicians, working with troubled geniuses like Ted Gärdestad and Cornelis Vreeswijk, and the moment he realised that ABBA were going to take over the world.
Every journalist with a byeline has been abused and threatened online, but few have come face to face with their abusers.
Sami Koivisto, a Finnish journalist with public service broadcaster YLE, has had more than his fair share of death threats that inspired fear in him and those close to him, but when police offered him the chance to meet one of those who had posted threatening messages, he took it.
This is what happened when he faced down the troll that wished his family dead.
Every day, your newspapers and airwaves are full of angry contrarian commentators, all shouting over one another about how they are being silenced, but of course, "you can't say that in this country any more".
This is not unique to Ireland or England or Sweden; those demanding an "open and honest" debate (and who usually deliver anything but) are part of a broader movement using similar tactics to try to present their ideas without having them scrutinised or questioned.
Academic Gavan Titley joins me to talk about his upcoming book "Is Free Speech Racist?", which examines how this came to be, the forces driving it and what attempts to create a new crisis of free speech mean for the public discourse.
Until the recent release of a private recording of hime being racist, anti-Semitic and generally losing his shit, Richard Spencer was the acceptable face of neo-Nazism. Newspapers wrote puff pieces, TV stations gave him a platform, all oblivious to the fact that he is one of Hitler's heirs apparent.
So what can journalists and editors do to avoid this happening again? One is to verify that people are who they say they are, and the other is to stop assuming that the people you are interviewing are acting in good faith when all the evidence points to the contrary.
While all journalism follows the same basic principles, court reporting is something of a special case - it requires sharp skills, an analytical mind and not least a working knowledge of the law and how it relates to your work as a reporter.
Sarah-Jane Murphy is one of Ireland's most skilled court reporters, and that should come as no surprise - a qualified solicitor with eight years of experience, she has a Master's in journalism from DCU and has covered some of the biggest trials in the country in the last number of years.
We talked about the practicalities of the job, the skills needed and what changes might need to be made to the law to ensure that justice can be seen to be done.
When is it OK to use anonymous sources? Can they be trusted? And can we as journalists be trusted to make that call?
When it comes to establishing who said what to whom, modern journalism has become the Wild West. Keen to preserve their contacts, journalists are granting anonymity to sources that don't truly deserve it.
The result is, at best, partisan reporting of certain issues in politics, sport and business - at worst, downright lies.
So how should sourcing work? Who deserves anonymity and who doesn't? And how do we tell the difference?
This podcast covers some of the things we all need to think about when evaluating the use and credibility of anonymous sources.
Jo Kamenou describes herself as "one of the lads" at Bleacher Report Football - a woman in the previously male-dominated environment of sports journalism.
Forget the fact that fast-moving newsrooms are difficult enough places at the best of times. Even if things have improved in recent years, it's a tricky path to follow. Men often don't take kindly to women who know more about football or sport than them, but they're going to have to get used to it...
We talked about how the most boring team in international football inspired her, what it's like to have a start-up culture in the newsroom and how she sees a future for herself - and many other women - behind a microphone.
On the road again so this week's pod covers some issues that have cropped up recently in the media sphere - how very few people now writing about Greta Thunberg have any idea what they are talking about, what it's like to spend hours in the cold for a 12-minute video of a world news event, and why journalists have a responsibility to people they put in the spotlight.
During a two-day seminar at the Auschwitz Museum I spoke to journalists and museum staff about the challenges of telling the story of the Holocaust, 75 years after the camp, where over a million died in an industrial murder operation that was the epicentre of the effort to exterminate the entire Jewish people, was liberated.
It is a desperate, awful bleak place at times, but a look around the word tells us that little has changed - devious men still use the spectre of "the other" to grow and consolidate their power, just as Hitler did.
I asked a variety of journalists about their work, and why they felt they had to go to Auschwitz. There is also a recording of a seminar with press officer Pawel Sawicki about the media and how Auschwitz is portrayed, and what they do to keep their reputation intact and their story relevant.
One of the greatest books about the Holocaust is entitled "Hope Dies Last", and that is what I left Auschwitz and Poland with - hope.
We can overcome the hatred that created this place, but it is an ongoing process, sometimes of education, sometimes a battle, but always with compassion.
If my constant posting and tweeting and writing about this subject over the last few days has upset or offended you that's fair enough, but I'm not one bit sorry.
The alternative is being silent, and I have seen where that leads.
I cannot and will not be part of it.
On this day 18 years ago we watched in horror as the Twin Towers collapsed live on television - and with them went many of the checks and balances of objective journalism. That parking of journalistic principles has paved the way for the events we say happening today around the world.
This podcast features reflections on that day and what has changed since, and what to be aware of when consuming media following the resetting of our historical clock to 9/11/2001.
Gaute Boertad Sjaervoe was 16 years old when he saw two of his friends murdered by Anders Behring Breivik on July 22, 2011. Trapped on an island 40 kilometres outside of Oslo, he ran, but had several more brushes with the gunman who went on to kill 67 more people that day, the vast majority of them teenagers like Gaute.
He survived as Norway promised more love and more democracy as an antidote to the hatred of Breivik, but instead of being repulsed by him, the rhetoric of the murderer is now in common use in Norwegian politics.
Undaunted by his traumatic experience, Gaute is still very much involved in the youth wing of the Labour party, and on a late summer afternoon in Trondheim he told me the story of what happened that day - and what has happened to Norway since.
Over the last 17 years I have gotten married, had a family and built a career in media for myself - all that time, Dawit Isak has been sitting in a cell in Eritrea in the most appalling conditions, imprisoned without trial for his journalism.
I spoke to journalist and author Martin Schibbye - who was himself shot, arrested and spent 438 days in the Kality prison in Ethiopia while trying to report there - about his new book "The Search For Dawit Isak" and what the future holds for freedom of speech in a part of the world that is struggling to find peace.
Whether we like it or not, social media is now an inherent part of the wider media, and journalists, editors and consumers need to understand the role it plays in disseminating news and information.
But there is also a deeply personal element to how we interact online, so I spoke to academic Ciarán McMahon about his new book "The Psychology Of Social Media" to tease out some of the strands of social networking, how we present and perceive ourselves there and where all this is leading us in the 21st century.
As a child Zainab Boladale would pretend to read the news by grabbing a paper and making things up based on the pictures she saw, and ever since she has wanted to be a journalist.
She made her way from Co. Clare on Ireland's west coast through one of the country's best journalism programs and on into the hallowed halls of public service broadcaster RTE where she has been a huge success - but as a woman of colour from a not-exactly-privileged background, it hasn't always been easy.
She told me about her route to the top, and where she's headed next.
A new podcast series on the same feed, featuring interviews with some of the interesting people I meet on my travels.
First up is a recent conversation I had in Reyjavik with Gunnar Nelson - a fighter, a father and a man not to be trifled with at daycare...
Hannes Halldorsson is not just a top-class international goalkeeper for Iceland - he's a scriptwriter, movie-maker and director back operating in a small national market where budgets are tight and dreams are big.
I spoke to him in Reykjavik about making ends meet in the movie business when he's not between the sticks.
Together with Julian Assange and Wikileaks, activist and "poetician" Birgitta Jonsdottir turned the world on its head by releasing the "Collateral Murder" video, which featured the slaying of two Reuters journalists by American forces in Baghdad, Iraq.
Jonsdottir may have ended her association with Wikileaks but her commitment to art, activism and politics is still as strong as ever, and I met her in Reykjavik to talk to her about her life and work, as well as the importance of the Internet archives for journalists as a tool to hold the powerful to account.
I have met almost every MMA journalist at one time or another, but not Karim Zidan - then I realised that the reason he doesn't attend events is that his writing about sport and politics, and in particular about MMA and some of the former Soviet republics - means that it's not safe for him to attend.
In a world powered by social media, blogs and fan-generated content, Karim's work in untangling the web of "sportswashing" is absolutely crucial to understanding how and why tyrants use athletes like Mohamed Salah and Khabib Nurmagomedov to rebrand themselves and their regimes.
When it comes to media, marketing and journalism, Media HQ CEO Jack Murray has done and seen it all.
A former political advisor and government spokesperson, he has been in the room as some of the biggest Irish political scandals of the last two decades have gone down. Many senior politicians have wisely acted on his advice, and many more have lived to regret not doing so.
His Media HQ business is now the leading publisher of media intelligence in Ireland and the biggest organiser of media training events, and he offers PR and media training for all manner of companies, brands and NGOs at all levels.
(He's also the best writer of press releases that I know, but that's beside the point).
I spoke to Jack about crisis communication and asked him who do politicians turn to when it all goes wrong, what "The Golden Hour" means in PR terms, and is honesty always - or ever - the best policy when you're fighting for your political life?
Long before the glossy production and the fan zones, long before the slick social media presence and the souvenir stores in host cities, Ann Odong and her friends were covering women's soccer.
A lawyer and journalist, she essentially used her profession to fund her obsession, often allowing her heart to rule her head, and she has finally been reaping some reward as a digital content producer for FIFA at the Women's World Cup.
She told me about making the athletes visible, how to build trust and how she came to shoot one of the most viral videos of the tournament with the Nigerian team.
Summer is a time when sport takes over and who better to talk to than Irish-born, Brazilian-based sportswriter Ewan MacKenna?
Often dismissed as a professional contrarian, Ewan's writing and workflow is both deep and complex, showing us things about our heroes and ourselves that sometimes we'd rather not see - so what's it like to be on the receiving end of such negative attention? What is his agenda? And how did he manage to write a book about Conor McGregor without a single word form the man himself?
Find out all these things and more in this episode.
With the sudden - and very welcome - interest form media outlets in the Women's World Cup, many reporters whose beat is normally men's soccer find themselves putting their shoulders to the wheel to cover it. Here's five pitfalls to avoid when writing about women in sports.
The Index on Censorship are the watchdog that ensures that you and I can exercise our freedom of speech, and they kick up an almighty fuss about those places in the world that don't allows us to do that.
But the recent rise of far-right hate speech, boosted and amplified on social media, has proved a danger to our democracies and our most basic human rights - so in these battle for rights, who wins out in the end?
I spoke to IoC CEO Jodie Ginsberg, a vastly-experienced journalist who now leads the campaign to keep free speech free.
Why journalists should never be surprised by election outcomes, the end for private religious fundamentalist lobby groups in Ireland's public debate, and a perfect example of how no-platforming benefits democracy.
As teenagers around the world skip school to protest the destruction of the planet and a "Green Wave" sweeps through European politics, I spoke to veteran environmental correspondent Alister Doyle about how to report on the climate crisis. We talked about everything from landing on now-disappeared ice shelves in the Antarctic and dealing with Texan cranks to why climate science skeptics are really deniers trying to sow doubt, and how environmental journalism is key to helping the world understand the scale of a crisis that threatens us all.
Sports media is a beast that mus be constantly fed with news, views and comment, and nowhere is that more true in America, where seasons bleed into one another in a never-ending carousel of coverage.
The quality of the coverage (on both sides of the pond) is often dependent on access to the athletes themselves, and on them being willing to tell their stories. European sports are becoming more and more restrictive with this access in the belief that "less is more", while in the States you can wander into a locker room and talk to any of the multimillionaires you find there.
Jay King is the beat writer about the Boston Celtics for The Athletic, and he told me about his day-to-day work, what it's like dealing with these millionaires every day and how building relationships is at the heart of his job.
Sarah Maria Griffin is a novellist and poet who effortlessly flits between the worlds of fiction and non-fiction, engaging in occasional (and often regular) acts of journalism. Her approach to writing and her thoughts around how we express ourselves are well worth a listen for any journalist or writer trying to find their own unique voice.
The way we consume video has changed, but the old way is not dead yet - what do we need to consider when shooting for mobile devices and linear TV? Is there a difference in how stories are told and presented? What factors need to be taken into account when selecting our shots?
I love radio. It's where I started, and if forced to choose, it's what I'd do full time.
And one of the most creative, knowledgeable and smartest people I've met in the field is Irish producer/presenter/all-rounder Pat O'Mahony. Amid an audio background of seagulls, leaf-blowers and passers-by, we sat down in Dublin for a coffee recently to discuss what makes it such a great medium to work in and what you need to succeed.
Journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead while covering disturbances in Derry last week, and today she will be buried after her funeral in Belfast.
What can journalists and in particular editors learn from her life and her untimely passing? How can we keep freelancers safer while still reporting from dangerous situations?
Over the weekend a broadcaster in Ireland came under fire for apparently using audio belonging to a freelance journalist without her permission.
Though they have since agreed to pay her for her work, the case illustrates the laissez-faire many media houses have towards the copyright of freelancers.
This podcast is a brief rundown of what freelance work is, who owns it (spoiler - them, not you), and what to do if you find something using it without your permission.
As Ireland's far-right desperately tries to get off the ground and the tech giants are once again in the firing line for giving them a platform to spread hatred, I spoke to journalist and academic Niamh Kirk about information networks, regulation, and what free speech actually means in the digital age.
When writing or broadcasting, journalists have a responsibility to tell you how they got to know what they know - and if they don't explain it properly, you have no way of knowing if you can believe them or not.
Apart form a sharp mind and some tough questions, the most important thing for any journalist is the contents of the bag slung over their shoulder - choose well and you can tell any story, anywhere in the world, for hours at a time without running out of power. Choose badly, and you can end up talking to yourself while history is made in front of you.
Christian Payne (aka @Documentally) is a former professional photographer who now tells stories in any medium you can mention, and he is forever pushing the boundaries of what is possible to bring recipients as close as they can to the action.
When not teaching others how to capture the world around him he can be found in his shed writing, sipping a good whiskey and endlessly packing and repacking his bag while dreaming up new ways to tell stories.
Dion Fanning was one of Ireland's most well-known sports journalists when he suddenly stepped away from the Sunday Independent and into the wild online world of Joe. In doing so he left behind much of his past, moving on from writing about sport to working with video and long-form interviews.
We talked about coming from Irish newspaper royalty, annoying Roy Keane, Pele's problem when discussing erectile dysfunction in conference calls and what the future holds for both sports coverage and journalism in general.
When a presenter on Newstalk said that women might bear some of the blame if they get raped, he was suspended and eventually reinstated - but when Dil Wickremasinghe criticised him and the station, she was sacked and her show cancelled.
Her emails to RTE suggesting she taker her "Global Village" show - a calm oasis of diversity in a sea of click-bait and bile - went unanswered.
Now a trainee psychotherapist, Dil joined me at the International Bar in Dublin for a gripping discussion about her career as a broadcaster, the circumstances surrounding her departure and how diversity in the media is not - and cannot be - treated as a box-ticking exercise.
A small but dedicated group attended the first-ever live OMIS podcast in Dublin, and for almost an hour they listened to journalist, broadcaster and communications consultant Margaret E Ward talk about diversity, media capture, the effects of journalism on vulnerable people and a whole lot more besides.
Why make a one-hour radio documentary when you can make a six-and-a-half-hour podcast series spanning 13 episodes about infamous boxer Ruben "Hurricane" Carter and his wrongful conviction for murder?
I spoke to BBC sports journalist and broadcaster Steve Crossman about how the discovery of 40 hours of taped conversations with Ruben Carter finally gave the "Hurricane" the chance to tell his own story - a story of poverty, racism, violence, and almost 20 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.
Danny Robins is one of the finest comedy scriptwriters and documentary-makers I know - my fellow freelancer is also married to a Swede in what is an uncertain time both professionally and politically for us all.
I met him last week on what is most likely my final visit to the UK before Brexit, and on my return to Sweden I called him up to talk about his background in comedy, his brilliant audio documentary about Johnny's Cash's legendary gig at Folsom Prison, and humour might help us to both explain and navigate the times that we live in.
Women's sport might be getting more and more space in the media, but there is still a lot to do - I spoke to producer Elaine Buckley about her efforts to raise the profile of female athletes and what fans and journalists can do to help.
A picture is worth ... what, exactly?
Photojournalism is powerful, immediate and perhaps more undervalued than ever before - but it is no less important.
I spoke to Dylan Martinez, Reuters Chief Photographer in the UK and Ireland, about how he got started, the life of the agency photographer and what the future holds for this vitally important form of journalism.
What would you do if an article you wrote led to Al Qaeda threatening to kill you?
Yemeni citizen Hind Aleryani left the safety and security of a job with the UN to become a journalist and activist concentrating on the rights of women and children, but after criticising religious extremists she was forced to flee to Sweden - but the "humanitarian super-power" with the self-proclaimed feminist government has already turned its back on her and is threatening to deport her and her traumatised daughter.
I spoke to Hind about her life, her journalism and what needs to be done to protect and promote much-needed female voices in and from the Middle East.
An allegation that an Irish athlete raped a woman in a Dublin hotel has set tongues wagging, and though little is known about the case, plenty of people are sharing wild theories on social media as editors and reporters chase the details.
I spoke to Noeline Blackwell, lawyer and chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, about how the media handles the cases that come before the courts, and what can be done to make a traumatic experience less damaging for those involved.
Most interviews with professional athletes these days are very guarded affairs. They spend almost as much time on media training as they do in the gym - but are journalists in part to blame for them being so boring?
I talked to ex-Manchester United, Rangers, Red Star Belgrade and AIK midfielder Bojan Djordjic about his work on both sides of the microphone - first as a high-profile player in big clubs, and now as an analyst tasked with studying some of his former team-mates.
What would the coverage of the Belfast rape trial have looked like if we didn't know Paddy Jackson was involved? And was the public interest served, given that he was found not guilty?
In Sweden, it's highly unlikely that Jackson's name would have been known before the trial, but I compare it to a recent court case around match-fixing in soccer to tease out some of the issues.
I spoke to American academic Whitney Phillips about how the media's attempts to do the right thing in reporting on the far right have backfired spectacularly - instead, it has ended up providing endless fuel for their fire.
She outlines some of the ways in which they can be handled by journalists - not least by shifting the focus from the aggressors to their intended targets.
You can read her full report here:
Middle Ireland recently got a jolt of what it is like when the far right stick their head above the parapet in the form of presidential candidate Peter Casey, but for journalists and women of colour like Clara Rose Thornton, they've always been there.
I spoke to her about race, gender and how power is exerted over minorities by and through the media, and what can be done to change it - and the power of the spoken word comes out on top once again.
In the wake of a presidential campaign that saw a candidate go from one percent to 21 percent by attacking Travellers and welfare recipients, I spoke to actor, writer and director John Connors about being on the receiving end of racism as a political tactic.
Outside of Ireland, barrister, columnist and broadcaster Joe Brolly could walk down the street almost entirely unmolested - at least he could, until he wrote about how he wanted to see professional mixed martial arts banned. On social media at least, all hell broke loose.
I was one of those who disagreed with him, so I asked him to talk to me about his journalism and the arguments he made in two articles that illustrated the power of certain columnists to tell us not what to think, but what to think about.
In this week's episode I speak to Johanna Franden about breaking into a male-dominated world, being a soccer pundit on the trail of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Barcelona and Paris, and why a second language can be vital to a freelancer...
I'm in Las Vegas for UFC 229, so here's a little bonus material to keep you going.
A few years ago I went to a firing range to find out why America loves guns, and I had a clear idea in my mind about what I wanted to do.
It didn't turn out that way.
Instead, it turned into this mini-documentary which, for the most part, is a conversation with a man called Angus.
Angus is warm and friendly with a booming laugh and a passionate desire to uphold the Second Amendment, so rather than argue with him, I decided to listen to what he had to say.
He is currently recovering from a serious illness and I hope to see him while I'm here - in the meantime, have a listen.
Our conversation is never going to solve a seemingly intractable American problem, but it sure helped me understand it better.
What should you be getting paid for your work? What do you do if you don't get it? And is it ever wise to work for free?
Ahead of a big week in Las Vegas for Conor McGregor's fight, I wrestle with some of the questions freelancers all over the world want answers to.
Eamon Dunphy is a former footballer and one of the most controversial figures in Irish life. His work as a journalist and broadcaster is sometimes derided as sensationalist and provocative, but his sharp intellect and insatiable hunger for knowledge and ideas have reshaped Irish media and caused others to raise their game considerably.
I spoke to him about his four decades in the media industry, and how if he was starting out today, he reckons never would have made it...
You don't have to be Scottish to go to Brazil and tell them the story of one of their greatest football icons, but it helps...
Andrew Downie is a journalist and author based in Sao Paolo who has written a brilliant biography about Socrates, the doctor-philosopher-footballer who shaped an era in one of the most-loved teams of all time.
He also has extensive experience of reporting in conflict zones and works for the Committee to Protect Journalists - I asked him if being a Hibernian fan prepared him for such a challenging life in the field...
Judging by the international coverage, Sweden's election was a referendum on immigration - but while it was indeed a factor, much of the tunnel-vision journalism that was produced was amateurish, ill-informed and obscured the real driving forces behind how the ballots were cast.
Long before he gave us so the rib-shatteringly funny comedy that was Father Ted, Graham Linehan was an almost accidental journalist treading the dark, rainy streets of Dublin, reviewing gigs and albums and harbouring dreams of becoming being Woody Allen.
I talked ot him about how he fell into journalism, what he learned about how to communicate from it, and what it's like to live your life in the public eye.
(We spoke over Google Hangouts, which is among the top two crappiest pieces of technology known to man, so apologies for some of the sound quality on this episode.)
Journalists often find themselves having to cover subjects like disability, racism and LGBT rights. These are subjects in which they have no direct personal experience, and the language they use has the power to cause immense damage.
Suzy Byrne is a well-known Irish campaigner for both disability and LGBT rights, and I talked to her about what journalists can do to improve how they frame their subjects and stories, how they should think about the language they use, and what can be done to make sure minority voices are heard and seen - and not just in relation to their minority status.
With the Swedish election looming and Marine Le Pen denied a Portuguese platform, I spoke about free speech, the far right and how to cover politics properly with Stockholm University journalism professor Christian Christiansen.
Sulome Anderson's father Terry was bureau chief for Associated Press when he was kidnapped before she was born and held hostage for almost seven years - despite this, she still followed in his footsteps.
Her book "The Hostage's Daughter" is part searing memoir, part journalistic blockbuster, and she told me about her work, the choices she has made and how the uncertainty of the media business has left her at a crossroads in her career.