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NUJ slams NI First Minister’s ‘disingenous’ attack on media

Last update - Thursday, March 1, 2012, 15:05 By Metro Éireann

THE IRISH secretary of the NUJ has dismissed as “naïve” and “disingenuous” the attack by the Northern Ireland First Minister on media coverage in the North.

Last week First Minister Robinson accused journalists of “talking the Northern Ireland economy down” and of serving what he termed “a daily diet of negativity”.
In response, Séamus Dooley said in a statement: “There is no doubt that there is a significant volume of bad news emanating from Northern Ireland. But the First Minister is naïve if he imagines that the media can ignore bad news or simply wish it away by adopting a Pollyanna-like approach to inconvenient truths.”
Dooley noted that for many years the trade union movement and the media “advocated strong leadership, and profoundly wished that elected political representatives from across the political divide would abandon sectarian politics for the greater good of the community. Sadly that did not actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
He continued: “Mr Robinson cannot expect the media to ignore bad news or to deliberately distort the impact of bad news by seeking to offset the impact of job losses with a positive spin. Neither can the media ignore the impact of the undermining of public services in Northern Ireland or pretend that services are not being cut.”
Dooley admitted there are “problems” with the media in Northern Ireland, with editorial budgets being cuts and production jobs outsourced “at a time when the print and broadcasting organisations need to cover in greater depth, not just economics but the wide range of developments – social, cultural, sporting, political and industrial –which are currently being ignored.
“The problem,” he said, “is not that the media is serving a diet of bad news, but that those responsible for delivering the news are being denied the resources to do so.”
Meanwhile, he said, media organisations which devoted considerable resources to covering the North during the Troubles on both sides of the border have now abandoned their coverage.
“We in the NUJ would like to see greater coverage of Northern Ireland – good and bad, across all media and reflecting the complexity of life in Northern Ireland,” said Dooley.

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