The media’s role in peacebuilding: none of its business?

So is peacebuilding none of the media’s business? That was a conclusion that broadcaster and journalist, Declan Harvey, posed to a panel of fellow journalists and writers at an online webinar delivered through Belfast City Council’s PEACE IV Programme, which is funded through the EU and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Panellists Alex Kane, Amanda Ferguson, and Leona O’Neill shared their perspectives and experiences of reporting in Northern Ireland, answering questions from Declan Harvey and those submitted by …

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Welcome back Fortnight Magazine, we’ve missed you…

Welcome back Fortnight Magazine. The paper was founded in 1970 by Tom Hadden, and became a haven of sanity during the very years when large chunks of working-class Belfast were imploding in sectarian violence and immense social (and later economic) distress. I first started getting copies out of the old Gardiners newsagents and bookshop in Botanic Avenue in the late seventies when it was a vibrant confluence for thought from all sides, no least the McNee column which was, I …

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Shock of #Covid19 is an opportunity to change NI for the better

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor E. Frankl For all the catastrophising of this event, Northern Ireland seems to be holding up fine. That’s in large part because of the people of Northern Ireland (and I mean all, not some) have changed their habits and bought our health system precious time. Belfast’s hospitals have themselves turned on a sixpence and remain still well under capacity as far as Covid19 …

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Soapbox – Northern Ireland journalists, do yourselves a favour: don’t call yourself a peace journalist

Photo by brotiN biswaS is licensed under CC0

SOAPBOX: Academic Steven Youngblood suggests that the term ‘peace journalism’ is getting in the way of promoting and practising the principles of good, socially responsible journalism that are at the heart of the oft-disputed concept. He outlines six principles and asks whether NI journalists and journalism academics agree.

Lies and democracy: Who are the truth tellers?

Lies and democracy: Who are the truth tellers? by Allan LEONARD 6 December 2019 As part of the annual general meeting of NICVA, the umbrella body of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland, there was a panel discussion on the topics of truth, trust, and how everyone engages with a bombardment of information. Entitled, “Lies and Democracy: The Fight for the Truth”, BBC Radio Ulster presenter, Seamus McKee, moderated the discussion with panellists Amanda Ferguson, John Barry, and …

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The role and responsibilities of media in divided societies. Discuss.

The role and responsibilities of media in divided societies. Discuss. by Allan LEONARD 8 November 2019 A two-day international conference examined the role that media plays in divided societies and in creating more peaceful and stable communities. Organised by the Social Change Initiative in partnership with Conciliation Resources and the University of Edinburgh’s Political Settlements Research Programme, the event was attended by journalists from South Africa, Colombia, Myanmar, Rwanda, Turkey, the Middle East, the Balkans, Kashmir, Somalia, Syria, Nepal, and …

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The role of media in conflict: A Féile discussion

The role of media in conflict: A Féile discussion by Allan LEONARD 8 August 2019 Hosted by Féile an Phobail, the campaign group Time for Truth organised an event to examine the role of the media in conflict and to listen to the account of those journalists in the front line who helped shape and influence the narrative. The panellists were Amanda Ferguson (journalist), Sean Murray (film director), Trevor Birney (film producer), and Barry McCaffery (journalist). After welcoming those attending …

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James O’Brien and the lost journalistic art of asking decent questions…

Ever since I started Slugger back 2002, and having only just discovered the opportunities which blogging offered to a humble, prospecting researcher like myself I’ve always been interested as much in the cultural effects of net based comms as in the subject itself. With our John Hewitt session coming up, I thought it timely to look at the latest writing on the subject and so I called into Blackwells on Monday and I couldn’t pass James O’Brien’s How to be …

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Fun, loyalty and silliness

Two people meet in the centre of Belfast.  The venue is a bookshop café. They hug.  It’s a long, savoured hug because they haven’t had a chance to catch up properly in ages.  She’s rarely in Northern Ireland now and when she is naturally, she spends her time in Derry with her beautiful wife, Sara.  The two chums finally release and scrape two chairs into position.  One friend, Lyra, is a renowned author.  The other, William, not so much.  “Sara …

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Is ethical journalism possible in a contested place?

Is ethical journalism possible in a contested place? by Allan LEONARD 27 May 2019 At a public lecture event hosted by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, at Queen’s University, Professor Steven Youngblood (Director, Center for Global Peace Journalism, Park University, Missouri) discussed the ethics of journalism in a contested place like Northern Ireland. Youngblood also spoke at Ulster University and held separate workshop sessions, all supported by the US Embassy. Youngblood asked the …

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A legacy process should be about why the Troubles should never happen again

Brian Rowan and Deric Henderson speaking about Reporting the Troubles at a Creative Holywood conversation.

On Thursday evening, hours before Lyra McKee was fatally shot in Creggan, Brian Rowan was speaking about Reporting the Troubles in Holywood. Throughout the event, he often pivoted away from pure reminiscence and returned to the subject of legacy, arguing for an inclusive and society-wide process that asked less about what had happened but instead focussed on why it happened and crucially why it should never happen again.

Media guidelines potential remedy for damaging past reportage

Media guidelines potential remedy for damaging past reportage by Allan LEONARD 5 March 2019 The project team of “Victims and Dealing with the Past” at Queen’s University Belfast hosted a launch event of two complementary media guideline publications: one for victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict on how to best engage with the media, and another for journalists, editors, and educators on how to best engage with victims and survivors and report on legacy issues. As Dr Cheryl …

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Stephen NOLAN: Enhancing democratic debate in the era of fake news?

Stephen NOLAN: Enhancing democratic debate in the era of fake news? by Allan LEONARD 26 February 2019 As part of their engagement programme, Queen’s University Belfast hosted a lecture by radio and television personality, Stephen Nolan, who was introduced by Ryan Feeney. Much of Nolan’s lecture was an autobiography of how he has developed his career in journalism and working for the BBC. His views on the topics in the lecture title — “Enhancing the Democratic Debate in the Era …

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Earning trust “story by story”

Earning trust “story by story”: Can we believe the media? The role of journalism in the digital age by Allan LEONARD 4 October 2018 Ulster University — along with the UK press regulatory body, Impress, and the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA) — jointly hosted a symposium event at its Belfast campus: “Can we believe the media? The role of journalism in the digital age”. Keynote speakers were Jonathan Heawood (Chief Executive Officer, Impress) and Peter Feeney (Press …

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The serious business of statistics

When something you hear makes you burst out laughing, you know it’s time to write a blog. In this case, I was listening to “the biggest show in the country” on the subject of Boris Johnson and his peddling of the myth that once Brexit is achieved there will be £350m a week available for the NHS. Indeed, Sir David Norgrove, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority took the unprecedented step of writing to the foreign secretary to say …

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Now might be a good time to start a ‘slow journalism’ movement…?

Interesting spat over the media and politics, between Denis Bradley and Stephen Nolan. My own thoughts fall into two parts: one, this is not new nor specific to Northern Ireland; and two, in insisting Nolan carry the can, the abject nature of the general news cycle gets off the hook. Any opportunity to reference John Lloyd’s seminal essay, What the Media Are Doing to Our Politics is a good day. The whole thing is worth reading, but I’ll just quickly crib from …

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If deception is the real enemy of trust, then it’s getting harder and harder to spot…

Just a quick share dump, with a few links on the new age of digital politics. The relate to the hype about what the internet can do and what it cannot. First, that story about Facebook likes getting used (on an industrial scale) for cleverly segmented marketing: Cambridge Analytica has marketed itself as classifying voters using five personality traits known as OCEAN — Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism — the same model used by University of Cambridge researchers for in-house, …

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“the noise of unsourced chatter, drowning out the signal of fully sourced newsgathering”

Slugger will be 15 years old in June. About two to three years in we found ourselves in a position were we would not infrequently break news, largely because our readers were often just slightly ahead of the more plodding newsrooms of the day. It was never an intentional value, and when Twitter and Facebook algorithms intervened crowdsource breaking news far more quickly and comprehensively than was humanly possible, we never ever tried to compete. Our hidden value has not been …

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When journalistic confidence marginalises “the more basic and important obligation not to deceive”…

Michael Foley is professor emeritus of journalism at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). Writing in the Irish Times he picks up on an interesting angle arising out of Mr Justice Peter Charleton’s opening remarks at the Disclosures Tribunal: At the opening of the Garda whistleblower tribunal, the tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton, said he wanted to know if the media was being “used as an instrument for the dissemination of lies”. For most people his remarks are perfectly reasonable, …

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Does Gregory really think we don’t know they’re ALL trying to game the BBC?

I do wonder what planet Gregory Campbell’s been living on for the last twenty years. Here he is fulminating against the phenomenon of Alliance party planning a false flag operation: “The onus falls on the BBC to do something about this,” said Mr Campbell. “Alliance is being pretty clear here they believe the system is being flouted. Surely the BBC should be working very hard to make sure its programmes don’t become a propaganda tool for any party? “The BBC …

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