Sunday, 26 February 2017

North of Ireland – mainstream media is part of our problem

Our society needs a lengthy series of televised conflict related debate programmes. These ought to consist of a panel of spokespersons from recognised victims groups and human right bodies and focus on clinically interrogating a panel of political party leaders on a truth and reconciliation theme.

The fact that the DUP and UUP failed to attend this week's major cross-community victims conferences at the Balmoral Hotel and Europa Hotel speaks volumes and must be challenged by mainstream media presenters.

In a broken society pleading to be helped to heal its hurt and divisions ours, more than most societies, needs but lacks a truly independent and probative mainstream media.

Jurists are taught to remain vigilant to the fact that every human is endowed with various prejudices, biases and personal preferences and some can lurk at a subconscious level and shape our words and deeds. In this regard, mainstream media Presenters are no less human. Indeed in their profession keeping a ratings-ego in check and stretching beyond stoking sensationalism are all factors that present additional challenges to remaining impartial enough to properly discharge a solemn public interest duty. Some succeed, some do not!!!

On 17th February 2017, Stephen Nolan interviewed Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy to supposedly review the party's election manifesto. However, Nolan spent this interview demonising Sinn Féin's republican ideology and belittling its demand that Unionists show equality and respect to Irish citizens – you can rest assured British Unionist Nolan avoided grilling fellow Unionists in the UUP and DUP on their history of involvement with Unionist terrorist groups, plus their regular glorification of British state forces and campaigning for immunity for those forces who murdered hundreds of Irish civilians?

On 21st February 2017, William Crawley conducted a pre-election interview with the UUP party leader. During the 'phone-in segments, British Unionist Crawley seemed to actively assist the UUP leader's efforts to avoid acknowledging it wasn't Sinn Féin but British penal laws and then a UUP government that politicised the Irish language; the UUP run state excluded our native Gaeilge language and Gaelic sports from the state school curriculum.

On 23rd February 2017, Mark Carruthers chaired a debate involving a panel of politicians being quizzed by a student audience. British Unionist Carruthers was faced with a student contending we need a border poll given the disastrous impact Brexit will have on the NI economy and on our GFA peace. Carruthers ignored this and proceeded to invite a different student to pose a pre-arranged inane time-wasting question: which politician from a different party did the individual panel members most admire.

It's vitally important to monitor how certain Presenters frame, constrain and/or divert debates relating to our most important and contentious issues. Equally, it's vitally important to monitor the attitude of BBC and ITV mainstream Presenters to certain political sectors: they tend to treat British government officials such as the SoS as masters who deigned to be interviewed; they mostly treat Unionist politicians like delinquent siblings in need of scolding; and too often they treat Republican politicians as tantamount to a foreign arch enemy.

Our broken society needs to see a step-change in attitude by our mainstream media Presenters; start working truly in 'the public interest'... or resign!!!

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