Beware journalists who dissent from government or powerful organisations…

Absolute gem in the Belfast Telegraph’s Insider column this week, which noted the ruck between the First Minister and Martina Purdy and then focused on an interesting turn of phrase from Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. We have the gist of it below:

Unsurprisingly our republican co-ruler is somewhat consumed with dissidents and their doings. But even Insider ears pricked up (our ears are everywhere) on hearing the senior Sinn Fein figure had launched an attack on “dissident” journalists.

The unexpected outburst came at a private briefing for political correspondents with Mr Robinson at Stormont, and Mr McGuinness made clear he was not referring to any of the fine men around the Executive table.

The Mid Ulster MP is normally unflappable in the presence of the Press (unlike his power-sharing partner Peter) but said: “We still have dissident journalists.” indicating that everyone knew who he was talking about, Marty opined that such scribes were writing in a way which is “giving succour to these people”.

Insider hopes he doesn’t mean us and would respectfully urge the DFM to name names. It could, after all, be quite a dangerous thing to suggest about people — you might even call it a smear.

That said, our own profession may also do well to re-examine the all-too-handy use of the term “dissident”. The dictionary reveals the word actually means “a person who disagrees with a government or powerful organisation”. By which token, Insider aside, there are a lot of dissidents out there.

Oh and keep an eye out for the answer to this question:

4. Mr D Kennedy (Newry and Armagh)
To ask the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to detail when it has complained to the media about coverage of the Department or the Executive, including (i) to whom it complained; and (ii) on what grounds it complained.

  • picador

    Dissident journalists? Do you think he might have been referring to … oh, never mind.

  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    I think comments like this and recent articles/comment by senior members of SF alleging ‘black-ops’ etc. in relation to the killings in Antrim and Lurgan really do need further elaboration.

    If they aren’t baseless whimsy then they are pretty strong claims that the media and British establishment are supporting those that dissent from the Stormont status quo in some form and/or somehow part of their armed campaign.

    If this isn’t just nonsense and BS then SF really do need to put some meat on these, presently baseless and fantastical, claims that seem to becoming an unchallenged habit.

  • dunreavynomore

    Fair play to insider. McGuinness and co have become so full of themselves that any journalist who dares to interview people with a different analysis than the shinners is automatically a ‘dissident’. I do believe that Sinn Féin would welcome another wee bout of section 31 to keep their pesky opponents out of the media. It is the same mindset that has them pulling down Quinn support posters in Sth Armagh and running around frenetically painting out slogans in other areas.

    “The dictionary reveals the word actually means “a person who disagrees with a government or powerful organisation” .” Taking that explanation I hereby proclaim myself a ‘dissident’ and supporter of ‘dissident journalism’.

  • The Raven

    For my tuppence worth….

    “4. Mr D Kennedy (Newry and Armagh)
    To ask the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to detail when it has complained to the media about coverage of the Department or the Executive, including (i) to whom it complained; and (ii) on what grounds it complained.”

    …and with all due respect to interested parties, this is the kind of stuff that keeps the business of government (I use the phrase lightly) from happening.

  • Newton Emerson

    One man’s journalist is another man’s freelance writer.

  • How far the mighty has fallen.

  • susan

    McGuinness has used the phrase “dissident Journalists” before, particularly when the whole Scapp/Stakeknife story broke in 2003.

  • LURIG

    Sometimes the fourth estate see themselves as above criticism and that this right undercuts everything BUT why should they not work within rules? Also is it not fair to assume that if the Intelligence Agencies have their agents within the paramilitaries AND political parties they WILL surely have their people within the media too? I think that’s a given so let’s not get all high and mighty about journalism either. They are as human and open to ‘vulnerability’ and compromise as any other part of society. The way they set themselves up as standard bearers for decency and morality sickens me sometimes. I’m sure MI5 and Special Branch are well entrenched in the media.

  • spiritof07

    Surely Danny Kennedy wouldn’t be wasting everyone’s time with his question would he? Surely the FM and DFM have more to do than write to the press complaining?

    And if they did write a letter to say, oh I don’t know – Tony O’Reilly? – to give out about the Telegraph’s coverage of the Executive and the Assembly, then the Tele should publish that.

    And if they are writing such letters don’t blame Danny Kennedy for questioning it.

  • dunreavynomore

    Lurig
    “Sometimes the fourth estate see themselves as above criticism and that this right undercuts everything BUT why should they not work within rules? Also is it not fair to assume that if the Intelligence Agencies have their agents within the paramilitaries AND political parties they WILL surely have their people within the media too? I think that’s a given so let’s not get all high and mighty about journalism either. They are as human and open to ‘vulnerability’ and compromise as any other part of society. The way they set themselves up as standard bearers for decency and morality sickens me sometimes. I’m sure MI5 and Special Branch are well entrenched in the media.”

    Surely the ‘fourth estate’ do ‘work within rules’but just not within Martin McGuinness’s rules which is the kernel of Martin’s problem! I accept your point that British intelligence agencies will have agents within ‘…political parties…the media too.’ Of course they will and some believe that Martin is one of those, others dispute that. My problem is why should Martin McGuinness, a man with at least a particular party political line to purvey be accepted as any kind of honest, unbiased judge as to to motivations, honesty, strengths or abilities of journalists.
    I am very sure MI5 and the branch are well entrenched in Sinn Féin as well as the media.

  • jimbob
  • Lurig

    That is as about as slippery a post as I have seen, you have earnt 10 Brownie points for effort.

    No one doubts the media is infiltrated by the State’s assets; but what McGuinness is implying is it is not infiltrated enough, and those who govern us, alongside the said Mr McGuinness, need to get their finger out and control [or blacklist- mh] those journos who refuse to take Betty’s shilling.