Sunday, 16 March 2014

Northern Ireland Journalists told to hold back in name of peace process

Mick Fealty recently made two observations about Northern Ireland journalism.

One, he suggested that journalists are encumbered to and bound by the wishes of the media outlet's owner. He said:
“Rocking the boat”, I suspect, was never that big on the journalist’s agenda, particularly if not exactly to the proprietor’s taste. In any case, rocking it has more often been a case of cumulative work rather than going for it in one steady hit.
Two, he also suggested that journalists in Northern Ireland suffer from conformity and convention:
"Too many journalists still hunt in packs and so end up producing what Hugo Dixon calls ‘Me Too’ journalism. In the close confines of Northern Ireland this can lead to political pressures to conform (by not asking stupid questions) for the sake of our increasingly geriatric Peace Process™."
Mick Fealty had previously looked at the concentrated pressure for journalists to conform. He quoted an Irish Times report:  
"In [Northern Ireland] journalists were sometimes told to hold back on a story in case they might do damage to the delicate administration. While this was not a point to ignore, you couldn’t make exceptions."
But Mick Fealty has said how Northern Ireland journalists should operate:
"I’ve no doubt of the contribution, but the “well-behaved witness” now needs to start asking “stupid” questions. Otherwise false, or partial, narratives will go unchallenged as those witnesses continue to ignore “the bits that do not suit particular prejudices”. And when “agreed truth becomes accepted, the real truth becomes a lie”."

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