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Robinson attack on media dismissed as naïve and disingenuous

24 February 2012

The Northern Ireland First Minister has accused journalists of "talking the Northern Ireland economy down" and of serving what he termed "a daily diet of negativity". Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, has dismissed as naïve and disingenuous Peter Robinson's attack on media coverage in Northern Ireland.

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. Mr Robinson suggested in Stormont that 'despondency became a self-fulfilling prophecy.'
"The implication is that by wishing for good things to happen media organisations can actually make them happen. For years, the trade union movement and indeed 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 either. 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 undermine of public services in Northern Ireland or pretend that services are not being cut.
"There are problems with the media in Northern Ireland. Editorial resources are being curtailed; production jobs outsourced and editorial budgets slashed 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 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. Many media organisations which devoted considerable resources to covering the North during the Troubles, including Dublin-based organisations, have abandoned Northern 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."

Tags: , peter robinson, first minister, newspapers, cuts, assembly northern ireland