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.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty