A brief ‘ICYMI’: an image appeared on Twitter at the end of last week criticising the Irish News over would-be coverage of Palestine the newspaper “chose to ignore”.
Posted in the main Sinn Féin account on Thursday 8th, the image was published as a direct Twitter reply to a story the Irish News ran the same day featuring Palestinians voicing concerns over Sinn Féin meetings with Israel’s Likud party.
The public broadside throws up some interesting points about the relationship between a political party and the media. With press releases sent to a title on a ‘for consideration’ basis, for that is why the editor’s name is above the shop door, it is an unusual and very public look at an instance where a party apparently expects their releases to be carried…or will publicly ask the reason why.
At least some of the items listed in the Sinn Féin image could be described as press release-type political PR. One of the skills we want from any newspaper worthy of our time and money involves the ability to freely make their own decisions on the difference between a press release and a story.
We’ve obviously seen political pressure on newspapers – perhaps more often played out in the world of legal letters or diplomacy between a press office and a newspaper’s brass – of a different type before.
The open sight of pressure being applied when a party’s point of view isn’t carried to its liking (or when the party may be frustrated after a difficult spell in the headlines) will be uncomfortable for some but represent simple accountability for others.
Publish or be (very publicly) damned: a sign of people power holding the media to account, thanks to social media, or crossing a line in the co-dependent relationship between a party and the free press?
Conor Johnston – @CJohnstonNI – writes about subjects including culture (especially film/ cinemas), identity and media. He also blogs at www.freerangewords.net