Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Paterson holds meeting. Slugger scoops the mainstream media!

Hold the presses! Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, has held a meeting. Over at Slugger Mick Fealty gets precious about the genesis of this 'story'. Conall McDevitt hails its exposition as a triumph of new media.

Let me enter one slight note of dissent. This is far from a triumph of new media.

On the contrary, it is a prime example of a non-story which gets picked up by mainstream outlets, between tentative thumb and forefinger, simply because it has been given a mischievous interpretation by a journalist acting in his capacity as a blogger.

The thinking, roughly stated, is 'oh maybe this is significant, we'll mention it, leave out the scurrilous insinuations for safety's sake and append some extraneous detail'. It's actually an example of new media perpetuating bad journalism.


Jason said...

Good on you, Owen. I haven't followed this particular story but it's nice to hear a bit of dissent.

O'Neill said...

All we (and Mallie) have got at the minute is the meeting was organised to "promote greater political stability."

He's done well to read "unionist unity", "election pacts", "Westminster voting deals" in that little phrase.

Gary said...

Maybe they are worried about a "pan-Unionist" front? Akin to Humes-Adams-UK Government. Any roll yours eyes sarcastic smileys?? Same old worthless gutter journalism. Anyway, even if it were the case so what??? They seem to need to be continually reminded of what politics is and what democracy is. Such a non story.

Mick said...

Okay, before this turns into a cosy anti Slugger consensus, let me attempt a pre-emptive defence.

It is both old and new journalism. Old because actually Eamonn broke it on Cool FM and Downtown, New because he then put the blog up within half an hour.

I am a great deal less irked by this omission than the falling back of the BBC from the Sunday Tribune article on Sinn Fein/IRA mishandling of victims of sexual abuse. And you can see that this kind of omission has been going on for as long as the peace process.

Eamonn's report is not the scoop of the century. But it is useful. Why? Because it tells us about a meeting we would not know about had he not reported it.

It tells us where the FM was at the weekend.

And it tells us that after spending most of the Peace Process trying to eat each other they are finally trying to work out how get the best for those who want to maintain the union.

Chekov said...


The attack is not on Slugger per sé. It holds good for all blogs. Including this one. We can generate a great deal of hoopla and innuendo over a story which is then picked up by newspapers. The more I've looked into this, the more I've detected the hand of one particular Democratic Unionist.

Certainly there's a problem with blogs putting old media unto the scent, but not getting the credit. This, to my mind, is not a good example.

Mick said...

My view is that the whole blogs thing is about additionality. it widens in the circle of knowledge. And it means that people like you can make those sorts of educated guesses.

I'm not suggesting it's a prizewinning piece by any means, but it will have impacts on political insiders who in future have to plan for such disclosure.

I'm not surprised to hear thereis some resentment at this turn of events. Some of them were convinced the Tories had fed the NOTW that 'story' about two DUP senior reps that never showed up.

Then on the weekend they were to get ripped their party leadership is invited to a private do and said stories fails to appear.

Conspiracy stuff, surely. But I would not trust Coulson as far as I could throw him.

Jeffrey Peel said...

Given Danny Kennedy's pronouncements - almost identical to Ian Paisley Junior's pronouncements this morning on Good Morning Ulster - I think the story is indeed very significant. We seem to have an emerging consensus between the UUP and the DUP - supported by the Conservatives. The fact that a meeting was organised implies that whoever organised it assumed that the Conservative Party was a sectarian Protestant-only Party like its two buddies. These talks were clearly focused on some type of electoral pact. If that's the case it totally undermines everything that those of us who have been demanding secular politics have been arguing for decades.

The fact that the meeting happened is thoroughly depressing - and well done to Eamonn and Mick for the scoop.

Seymour Major said...

Considering all that has happened in Northern Ireland recently and the fact that the Conservatives are about to inherit those problems with a possible hung parliament, why should there not be meetings?

A responsible opposition uses the time leading up to an expected election to prepare for power. I would expect nothing less from the Conservative Party.