Author Archive | C Johnston

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Did PSNI just change the script?

One standout take-away from the Belfast Telegraph’s ‘BelTelBomber’ piece was an unexpected response from police which cut to the very core of how large organisations deal with the media in two interesting ways. Firstly, a recap: the Belfast Telegraph’s story followed up on the Manchester bombing by sending a reporter to visit local tourist attractions, more…

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20 years on: Will the media outside NI ever catch up?

During the last election (for readers in the future – this means the March 2017 version) a throwaway tweet seemed to catch the eye of local news-nerds. And another variation on the same theme more recently had the same effect. The reason? A look at the headlines on the superb Newshound service for a few more…

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How we’ve reduced our identity to a Google Maps search

A Queen’s University student discovered some alarming home truths when he spent months investigating our addiction to the use of the blanket terms Protestant and Roman Catholic as a catch-all to describe the population of Northern Ireland. Roy Fisher, a print-maker and market trader who carried out the research for his Masters thesis, found that more…

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A city in colour: behind the scenes with a street art veteran

You don’t have to think (as I do) that Belfast’s street art puts a priceless, living vein through the heart of our city to be fascinated by how those ‘walls’ happened and where the local scene behind them is going next. Taking Dermot McConaghy as a great example, the established street artist explained how the more…

How Twitter is taking us beyond the PSNI’s closed doors

A quick one: over on his own blog a writer who describes himself on Twitter as a PSNI officer has just published a rarely-seen (WARNING – EXTREMELY GRAPHIC) glimpse into what are presented as some of the hardest days of a currently-serving police officer. For many years, Police Service of Northern Ireland social media policy more…

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PSNI in 2016: Some hard choices we now need to make?

The Patten Report of 1999 famously led to the formation of the PSNI through a total of 175 recommendations covering a string of areas from human rights and oversight to – of course – the very name, size and composition of the organisation. With an Oversight Commissioner, Police Ombudsman, new District Policing Partnerships and a more…

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A love letter to William Crawley (et al.)

A few months a list written by an American visitor to England, detailing everything he found charming and/ or mysterious about his trip, went viral online. This week, when I stumbled on it again, it had the unexpected effect of causing me to think back to how I have enjoyed 30 years of Atlantic 252, more…

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Before Xchange Summer School: What quarters make your Belfast?

Next week will see the doors opening on this year’s Xchange Summer School and the start of conversations including a section of the event set aside to consider whether Belfast is a “City of Seven Quarters”. The event, through a panel discussion taking stock of the buildings around us in Belfast 2016, is likely to more…

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Orange Order’s NICS report: how do we stop citing neutral bystanders?

With apologies for the delayed response (I’ve been buried in job application forms – the simple words ‘apply by sending CV’ are now a truly beautiful thing to me), a fascinating statement at the start of Samuel Thompson’s piece on the Orange Order’s report on the NI Civil Service leapt off the page and warrants more…

Can we ever have crowd trouble without the cries of “them’uns”?

Another day, another series of TV reports showing council cleaners sweeping up glass and the odd hangover-on-legs staggering about looking for a fry. Could be any number of places on any number of nights, but one thing will be a constant on social media: armchair cops comparing the policing of the ‘event’ to whatever other more…

Smoke-free hospitals: finger-wagging at the working class?

Back in 2004 John Reid went against the grain by warning the anti-smoking lobby that they ran the risk of “patronising” the working class.  His comments still echo into 2016 and through the announcement of a total ban on smoking in hospital grounds in Northern Ireland. First things first, though: the ban isn’t about “smokers more…

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BAFTA nominee Stephen Fingleton on life as a filmmaker in world-class NI

When Northern Ireland-based filmmaker Stephen Fingleton, the multi-award winning writer and director of acclaimed feature The Survivalist, talks about working as a film professional in Northern Ireland he describes a life of stark contrasts: from enjoying praise from the likes of Time Out, Mark Kermode and The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw to working from an office more…

What next for newspapers in NI: a shop-counter snapshot 

While a decision by the Independent newspaper to move to online-only has sparked another round of debate about the likes of clickbait and paywalls, thoughts also turn to the health of the main newspapers on sale closer to home. Not least among those talking about our own most popular titles this weekend are the buyers more…

Orange, green…time for a new idea on ‘the border’ in between?

An excellent piece by Belfast Barman recently asked why, since the dream/ threat of a United Ireland allegedly defines our politics in Northern Ireland, we rarely hear the details of how exactly it would work discussed by those in favour or the precise, alleged horrors of such a thing debated by those strongly against. In more…

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Social media case study: How Translink sets the right tone on Twitter

A well-executed Twitter account can speak volumes about an organisation: telling people that, through fast responses and even an ability to lighten the tone with customers, this is a company unafraid to drop committee-thinking and go eye-to-eye with their public online. One of the busiest accounts in Northern Ireland, Translink’s six-year-old @translink_ni presence, can see more…