Telegraph to drop O'Doherty?

We’ve just heard that the Belfast Telegraph is planning to drop one of its most high profile columnists, Malachi O’Doherty. His work features regularly on Slugger and his analysis is often (quietly) adopted into the mainstream discourse of politicians on both sides of the community divide. We’d like to hear your thoughts, supportive or critical on the decision, and more broadly on the significance of O’Doherty’s work. Just remember to play the ball, and not the man!

  • slug9987

    I don’t see why they would want to – a very intelligent person who makes original and throught-provoking comments. My favourite BT columnist.

  • Jo

    I wonder why? Too thought provoking for this tired old paper?

  • fair_deal

    Their columnists do need a shake-up but malachy wouldn’t have been on my list as one of the ones to go.

  • slug9987

    I guess he has probably raised his price tag. Some of these columnists earn £100k on the big newspapers. I dare say MO’D is seeking a good £40k

  • Jacko

    Disgraceful – Malachi is one of the few people you would buy a paper to read.

  • Mick

    Slugg,

    I make it a point never to ask journalists what they earn, but I guess that guestimate will have raised a smile both in the O’Doherty household and the Telegraph offices. I doubt if any columnist earns a fraction of that on any paper in Ireland.

  • slug9987

    Well I know that Simon Jenkins of the Times earns a figure of many £100k. Now the Belfast Telegraph is only a small readership so £40k is perhaps hard to afford. On the other hand, is it worth while for an intelligent bloke like Malachi to offer a weekly column for less than £20,000? I know that I wouldn’t.

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    The marketplace is very crowded with commentators trying to outdo one another for sanctimonious Sinn Fein bashing and I guess Malachi has fallen victim to that. Perhaps he could be said to be a victim of his own success.
    Sure he’s a big fish in a small pond – but that’s the size of it. In my opinion, he hasn’t had said anything new, different or interesting for years – though that could be said for all of the telegraph’s writers, apart from, perhaps, the guy who does their religious stuff who did a very fair interview with Alex Maskey during the latter’s mayoralty. That’s not to say that it’s necessary to write in praise of Sinn Fein or republicanism to get my vote but it would impress me if it appeared in a staunch unionist newspaper such as the Telegraph.
    Perhaps what Malachi needs to do is to look at the market place, find the growth area and get in now. He could have a Damascene conversion, like Eoghan Harris did (except the other way around)and recast himself as a republican.
    Perhaps this decision by the Telegraph (if true it is) is also a result of the incursion of the Daily Ireland into the market place. Perhaps the morning edition is feeling the heat of too much competition and is wondering whether it can get some of the Daily Ireland action.
    Speaking from experience, a jilt like this could do Malachi a power of good. He might get an opportunity to do something completely different and he might be the better for it – write a film or a novel or something. While I disagree absolutely with his point of view, I think he writes well, eloquently even. But the market is a cruel place….

  • slug9987

    Olibhear I think it is probably that Malachi is too expensive for the BT.

  • fair_deal

    staunch unionist newspaper

    LMAO

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    I don’t know, Slug, about Malachi’s pay or stipend but I have no doubt that the bean counters in Dublin, where the owners of the BT hail from, Independent Newspapers, are looking at the market. After all cost is relative to what he brings in customers who purchase the paper to read his column.

  • Waitnsee

    The Telegraph pays its columnists around £80 a pop IIRC – although they have been known to offer as little as £50.
    Anyone who thinks any columnist in a local paper could be making £100,000 or a comparable figure is only displaying their own laughable parochialism.

    For the record, Malachi and Steven King where the only columnists in the Tele ever worth reading. Dropping them both is inexplicable.

    BTW, had to laugh at Oliver C.’s Daily Ireland competititon theory. Those DI boys really are a scream – except in their own paper of course, which is as dull as a wet Tuesday in Mullingar.

  • slug

    I also thought that Malachi and Steven were the most intelligent and interesting. They wrote on topics other than NI which revealed that they had more breadth than some others.

    I am surprised that BT has dropped these.

    £80 for a column, eh? This sounds like peanuts to me. It shows you that I made the right career choice – not a parochial one either.

  • Oilbbear Chromaill

    The problem with people like Waitnsee is their entirely parochial mindset. He may think Daily Ireland is dull but they could not be as dull as the Irish News or the Newsletter or any other Belfast morning newspaper. Simply put these other Belfast mornings are no longer relevant – they simply don’t do anything except regurgitate the wires and say nothing worth a damn, nothing worth a thread on slugger. Whereas Daily Ireland has dominated this forum since its arrival on the scene.
    Malachi – and now Steven – shucks. I hope all goes well for them and they turn this to their advantage. All this leaves is Lindy McD and Eamon McCann.
    Such a shakeup so soon after going tabloid and bringing out a morning edition sounds ominous. Perhaps Waitnsee is laughing at my Daily Ireland competition hop the ball (theory would be too strong a description of what I intended) but perhaps they’re not laughing in BT headquarters or, for that matter, around the corner at the Irish News. Aren’t their ABC figures due any day now? I can’t wait….

  • middle-class taig

    Maybe it’s because m-cts don’t buy the Telly anymore as they’re fed up listening to Malachi telling unionists what they want to hear. Certainly that’s what happened to this mc-t. Maybe the Telly have decided that at least one of their commentators should reflect opinion in the nationalist community.

  • Waitnsee

    I can asbolutely guarantee you that not one single sale of the BT has been lost to Daily Ireland.

    BTW, how’s that South Armagh subscription drive going? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a publisher reduced to writing begging letters into his own newspaper.

  • Mick Hall

    I may be wrong about this, but I don’t think there is a full time columnist working for a northern paper. Most columnists get their main salary from their day job. Of course there are full time journalists that write the odd column, but that is something different.

    Myself I like this about the norths columnists, the majority of whom [editors close your ears] would probably write their columns for next to nothing, as they have a point they wish to get across. Im thinking of the likes of Feeney, Gibney, maybe Malachi, Morrison, McCann and a number of others. If O’Doherty is to go, myself I would like to see McIntyre get the job, that would rattle a few cages, not likly though.

  • Macswiney

    The worse type of journalism is the tripe that we see from the likes of Richard Littlejohn in The Sun and Eilish O’Hanlon in The News of The World. ie from those with pre-meditated agendas who simply use their columns as a vehicle to express their insular opinions, rather than completing a detailed analysis of both sides of an issue. I have always placed O’Doherty in this category. There has always been a welcome platform for those who push an anti-Sinn Fein agenda,(particularly from within the Catholic community) and o’Doherty has always filled this vacuum with eager relish. I recall with clarity an incredibly venemous article which he published in a regional Scotish newspaper several years ago describing The St Patricks Day parade in Belfast. This was gutter journalism at its worst appealing to the lowest level of public opinion. It also exposed his inherent weakness as a journalist over many years. ie his inability and reluctance to discard his personal prejudices and tackle contentious issues in a courageous and enlightened manner. Still, then again why should he? His enthusiasm for filling the role of arch anti-republican has swelled his coffers no end for many years. Why should quality journalism interfere with that?! Please dont ever have the audacity to place this second rate journalist among the many respected scribes of our time…

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    I can asbolutely[sic] guarantee you that not one single sale of the BT has been lost to Daily Ireland.

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much… No outright denial, though,that the paper hasn’t lost sales since its decision to get out of bed early for a change. Let’s wait to see the abc figures shall we…

    On top of that I always thought the telly needed a decent sub….

  • GavBelfast

    That’s another day of the week I’ll be doing without the BT then.

    The quality varies, but I think he’s about the best they have.

    Mind you, he’s no Gail Walker.

    (?)

  • polanco

    Word is Pol O’Muiri is to replace Malachi

  • polanco

    Word is Pol O’Muiri is to replace Malachi

  • Baluba

    Pól Ó Muirí???

    An article as Gaeilge in the BT? Now that would be refreshing.

    Pól will fit in well there too, he loves a bit of SF bashing!

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    However objectionable Malachi was, he had some sense of style though I found the article he wrote about the St Paddy’s Day parade for a Scottish newspaper offensive in the extreme and exhibiting a great deal of self-hate.

    O Muiri, is a poor replacement.

  • Waitnsee

    Pol O Muiri is a good replacement – sharp, witty and clever. But I’ll still miss Malachi.

  • Elvis the dog

    What a shame. The only reason I visited the online BT’s horrible website was for Steven King and Malachi’s articles. Now I won’t be visiting at all.

    PS Has Steven got a columnist gig anywhere else yet?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “Well I know that Simon Jenkins of the Times earns a figure of many £100k.”

    Isn’t he the editor?

  • Comrade Stalin

    “Parochial” is a great word, and describes perfectly well the attitude expressed here which suggests that there is something wrong with columnists who attack a certain political party. Criticising politicians, what a shock! Next thing you know, they’ll be setting up their own paper where such criticism is not tolerated. (oops..)

  • Frjoefan

    I must say,you lot set your sights low if you think dear Malachi is a good columnist.Every time he appears on Talkback I reach for the off button to stop myself hurling the transistor at the cat.His articles are regurgitated at intervals,depending on the political situation.On the other hand, Brian Feeney is clever and incisive,not afraid to lash any target needing it.Lindy is an old-fashioned N.I. Labour party girl,and none the worse for it.Eamonn McCann debates well and writes well.None of these talk to me or write as if I’m a first year in a grammar school.As for the Daily Ireland, if I want a comic I’ll buy the Beano.Better written and presented.

  • lhiaanan-shee

    I can’t believe they are dropping Malachy’s column; yet still giving over most of their Business section to that old bore John Simpson. Has anybody ever manage to read to the end of an article of his without dropping off to sleep/

  • Waitnsee

    Agreed, Simpson is dreadful.
    Such a pity as there are great business stories in NI if only somebody had the balls to print them. I know there’s a clash of interests because papers needs advertising but really too much local business journalism is indistinguisable from vanity publishing.
    Tom Kelly always did a great column in the Irish News business section but they’ve moved him now. Perhaps that was why?!?!

  • Macswiney

    Waitnsee and Frjoefan you clearly have some ‘issues’ re Daily Ireland. Is it not allowable to have (in a democracy) a newspaper which suppports an all-Ireland resolution?

    As a nationalist I buy both the Irish News and Daily Ireland. I find nothing wrong with the quality of journalism in Daily Ireland and it is much stronger in covering International news stories than many of its rivals. (Particularly The Telegraph which seems to have become increasingly insular).

    Any paper in its infancy requires time to develop but it has progressed significantly since issue one (a relatively short time ago…)

  • Jacko

    macswiney
    “from those with pre-meditated agendas who simply use their columns as a vehicle to express their insular opinions, rather than completing a detailed analysis of both sides of an issue.”

    A column is all about the columnist expressing their opinion. The news section is supposed to be where you find the sort of even-handed stuff you’re looking for – though, in reality, don’t hold your breath looking for it.

  • T.Ruth

    It is disressing to hear that we will lose the benefit of an independent mind from the BT-it has few to lose. Unionists generally trust and respect Malachi O’Doherty and the insights he often provides into the nationalist and republican pysche. He will move on to better things and I wish him well -He may not be sad to be leaving the BT.
    T.Ruth

  • Ginfizz

    T.Ruth

    I find O’Doherty’s articles to be well written and easy to read. I remember one particularly amusing one about wee Jeffrey. I really think the BT has gone to the dogs – I used to buy it every day – don’t think I have in about four months.

  • Macswiney

    I accept what your alluding to Jacko. Perhaps the way I phrased my comments was the problem. The point I was trying to make was that I have found O’Doherty to be restricted and insular in his analysis be cause of his own personal prejudices. Of course Unionists trust him (as T Ruth confirms above). He provides them with a blinkered and acceptable ratification of their own opinions. There have been many past ‘assailants’ of Republicans who have at least had the courage to challenge their own convictions (Eamon Dunphy is one who springs to mind). You are correct in saying that any columnist is free to express their personal opinions, but I have always been drawn to those within either community who can open up and challenge their own core beliefs and prejudices.

  • Waitnsee

    “I have always been drawn to those within either community who can open up and challenge their own core beliefs and prejudices.”

    – and there, in a nutshell, is my problem with Daily Ireland.

  • middle-class taig

    T.Ruth

    “the insights he often provides into the nationalist and republican pysche”

    You are, of course, taking the p***, aren’t you!?

  • Jacko

    Macswiney

    Probably, if we’re both being honest, at some level you dislike O’Doherty for exactly the same reason as I like him – for his views.
    We all like our own prejudices being reinforced and dislike them being challenged.
    I also really like his style of writing.
    As for people on this thread lauding the notion of someone challenging the core beliefs of their own community: is O’Doherty not a good example of just that?
    I think so.
    A guy from a working-class Catholic, nationalist background who refuses to take the easy option by playing to the lowest common denominator within his own community (like Feeney) but, instead, actually holds up for examination all the old myths and stereotypes he was raised with.

  • Macswiney

    Jacko to be honest I think the notion that O’Doherty is some sort of non-conformist working class Catholic is overplayed in the extreme. I am unaware of a single Republican who has maintained any contact with him over the years so the idea that he provides insights into Republican psyche is almost laughable. It is that assumption more than anything which frustrates me and i dont think he does anything to discount it. With regard to Feeney I genuinely and honestly find a lot of his work challenging and at times thoughtful. There are few people over the years who have come from the comfort-zone of SDLP middle class nationalism and challenged many of their prior beliefs. I feel that he has done this and has conveyed honestly and accurately why the SDLP vote has disintegrated over recent years

  • Did not get the memo

    am unaware of a single Republican who has maintained any contact with him over the years so the idea that he provides insights into Republican psyche is almost laughable.

    I love all these people on Slugger who claim to speak for every single republican – amazing, is this some sort of mind control that you sign up for, or telepathy, that enables you to know exactly what every republican is up to and who they talk to and who they don’t? If so, why did it take so long for you all to acknowledge Scappaticci’s duplicity? For example.

    It is that self-important omnipotence that is laughable, not the notion that (gasp!) O’Doherty might actually maintain contact with Republicans. Catch yourself on, MacSwiney-the-all-knowing.

  • Dick Doggins

    Maybe the Tele now realise that this man no longer has his finger on the pulse, if he ever did….he`s a legend in his own mind and won`t be missed….

  • Macswiney

    ‘Did not get the memo’ – Your comment about Scappatici says more about yourself than it does me… (For example…)

  • Did not get the memo

    Well, MacSwiney, if you are so omnipotent as to know that no republicans are in contact with O’Doherty, did you know that Scappaticci was in contact with the Brits for decades? How does that omnipotence work again? How can you be so confident to speak for every republican and what they do and who they talk to and who they don’t?

  • Orla

    “A guy from a working-class Catholic, nationalist background who refuses to take the easy option by playing to the lowest common denominator within his own community (like Feeney) but, instead, actually holds up for examination all the old myths and stereotypes he was raised with.”

    Should the BT not have a columnist from the Unionist tradition doing same? What does Bt stand for now ?

  • Waitnsee

    I’d like to see Macswiney justify his ridiculous assertion that O’Doherty hasn’t been in contact with a single republican in years. First of all, I assume by ‘republican’ he means ‘Shinner’. Second, I wonder does he know the difference between being in contact with people and slavishly agreeing with them.

  • Not Eric Waugh

    For the record, the Bel Tel pays a very lowly £93 for a weekly political column.

  • Not Newton Emerson

    The Irish News pays even less.

  • Jacko

    Orla

    “Should the BT not have a columnist from the Unionist tradition doing same? What does Bt stand for now”?

    Can you think of one single unionist writer who challenges his or her own communities prejudices in the quite the same way as O’Doherty, McIntyre, Harris, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Eilish O’Hanlon and many others from a Catholic background do?
    I can’t, so who would the BT employ to do it.
    I am not saying there aren’t Protestant writers who would be that way inclined, just that there is even less tolerance for that sort of thing within the Prod. community than there is within its opposite number.

  • TAFKABO

    “Can you think of one single unionist writer who challenges his or her own communities prejudices in the quite the same way as O’Doherty, McIntyre, Harris, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Eilish O’Hanlon and many others from a Catholic background do?”

    Ummm, Newt?

  • Jacko

    TAFKABO

    I thought of him, but I don’t think he necessarily considers his background to be either Protestant or unionist. Not being Catholic or nationalist doesn’t automatically tip you into the other camp.
    Besides, I was thinking more in terms of someone from a blue-collar background.

  • Waitnsee

    No response yet from the totally discredited Macswiney I see.

  • middle-class taig

    Jacko

    You raise a very important point about where the two communities are right now.

    News agencies here, in Britain and in the South aren’t prepared or inclined to attack even hard-line unionism. You rarely get anyone in the Telegraph, the NewsLetter, the Times and Telegraph in London or the unionist-minded papers in the South criticising the bigotry, homophobia, supremacism, intolerance and racism emanating from significant sections of political unionism. Whenever there is some minor criticism, it is tempered by words along the lines of “sure them fenians are every bit as bad, they just know how to spin the press better” or some entreaty to try to understand the poor embattled (not to say embittered) sons of Ulster. The criticism is never of the rabid, visceral, vicious kind you get against republicans.

    Moreover, there seems to be particular rejoicing in these quarters over the “turning” of someone recognisably fenian (although how you get RDE in there I’ve no idea). The purpose of this is to cast republicanism as somehow deviant and defective, but a disease which can be cured. There’s no appetite for similar analysis from the unionist community. Unionism is cast as orthodoxy. The views of the Tom Paulins of this world are rarely sought on matters political. [Susan McKay is an exception that comes to mind, I suppose – don’t get the Tribune I’m afraid.]

    Jacko’s point illustrates the fact that, contrary to what many of these people would have us believe themselves, nationalism and republicanism permit difference of opinion and can countenance criticism. Anything similar coming from the unionist community brings immediate cries of Lundyism.

    Most importantly, however, nationalism listens to unionists when we want to hear what unionists thinks – we can all slap Dermot Nesbitt and Derek Dougan on the back, but we’re better off gritting our teeth through an interview with Nigel Dodds. We don’t look for pale green proxies to tell us what we want to hear. There’s no career to be made for unionists lambasting their own community in print.

    Anyhow, have a safe weekend, everyone. By talking to each other, and listening to each other’s genuine, legitimate views, we’re helping ensure that what happened yesterday is more a part of our past than our future. God bless.

  • Nathan

    Malachi made his first showing on the SINDO 2day , a broadsheet which is still regarded as the greatest repository of anti-nationalist rhetoric in the Irish media.

    No doubt he’ll get on like on like a house on fire with the ranks of the A-team (Ruth Dud Edwards, Emer O’Kelly et al).

  • Wichser

    Nathan

    Business is business. I just hope Malachi doesn’t lose the run of himself and start being a MOPEr in relation to the free market and how it ruins careers and lives.

    Why in the name of Christ is Eric Waugh still on anyone’s payroll ? Is unionism so entirely bereft of articulate spokespersons ?

  • slug

    “Jacko’s point illustrates the fact that, contrary to what many of these people would have us believe themselves, nationalism and republicanism permit difference of opinion and can countenance criticism. Anything similar coming from the unionist community brings immediate cries of Lundyism”

    These “my tribe that bit better” posts always bring a smile.

  • TAFKABO

    Some might argue that it was the Ulster Unionist partys willingness to allow a broad range of opinion flourish, that did for them in the end.

    Isn’t it amazing that republicanism is keen to accommodate all views, and yet every one of them seems to say the same thing?
    All those Daily Ireland columnists arriving at exactly the same conclusions.

    Ho hum.

  • Waitnsee

    Good for Malachi. The Sindo is Ireland’s best-selling newspaper and inflicts serious damage on Sinn Fein.
    Anyone else noticed that the Irish Times also appears to have woken up to the danger the Shinner cult poses to the republic?
    Not only its columnists but its leader writers and its letter writers are landing punches on the republicans like never before.
    It’s typical of Adams acolytes like ‘Middle Class Taig’ to equate this with sympathy for unionism (in fact that position is no different to a Paisley-style shout of ‘Lundy’).
    In fact what is interesting about southern opinion is that it offers a fairly neutral gauge on today’s Sinn Fein – and the balance of opinion coming in is that they don’t like what they see one little bit. And why would they? “The most amoral electorate in Western Europe” is not a pretty sight.

  • Wichser

    Waitnsee

    “inflicts serious damage” ? How does that work and where is the evidence for that please ?

  • Waitnsee

    If it isn’t inflicting serious damage on Sinn Fein, then what are all these Shinners complaining about?

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    Waitnsee in his naivety believes the Sindo is inflicting ‘serious damage’ on Sinn Fein when all the impirical evidence points to the contrary. The more SF gets attacked by the Dodo, the more the party’s popularity soars and I suspect that is the reason why the Sindo does it. No other party is worth the ink they expend on ‘standing up to the bogey man’ that SF represents to them. Hence Eoghan Harris’ delight about the protest by a relative of a Sinn Fein councillor at this Baltimore home. Without SF I doubt very much, for instance, that Tony O’Reilly would have got his ‘knighthood’. Malachi’s wit and charm will be lost in this den of snakes

  • Waitnsee

    So Oliver – if the Sindo is actually doing Sinn Fein good, why are you always complaining about it?

    Or can you just not stand the idea of anyone in Ireland disagreeing with you?

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    I’ll let you into a secret, Waitnsee, that only the select few are aware of. It’s all a game. The sindo vents outrage at Sinn Fein for, whatever, farting in the wrong direction while those of us who are republican minded – not necessarily SF members or supporters – give out at the Sindo to maintain the public show of dissension. Arguments sell newspapers and boost the fortunes of political parties. What FF or FG wouldn’t give for the publicity SF gets from the SIndo! If I and others like me gave up attacking the Sindo and they gave up attacking SF, the Independent News empire would crash and the party’s fortunes would plummet, at least until a new attacker was found. That’s how it works – now don’t tell anybody I told you, will you?

  • Waitnsee

    I’ll bear that in mind next time you go off on one.

  • aquifer

    Malachy is a funny and incisive writer. To often the most interesting words in the Tele are in the small ads.

  • Wichser

    Waitnsee

    Bawz man, SF complains about everything and has its own media blinspot siege mentality, the SIndo inflicts no damage on them electorally at all, SF thinks it’s entitled to a free ride in the media. The SIndo’s a very poor read anyway but that’s another thread.