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News-making and news reporting in Northern Ireland has come under the spotlight at the Commonwealth Editors’ Forum in Barbados.
He gave a run-down of the history of the troubled province – and told how the population – of a million adults of voting age – receives disproportionate importance as far as the headlines are concerned.
He told the conference: “I would argue that without the media’s curiosity over what was going on, the issue might not have come to a head as swiftly as it did but I would also argue that even if the media had chosen to say nothing and to brush the issue under the carpet, it would still have surfaced and possibly with even more ferocity than we have experienced.
“At first the media was the object of criticism from the Protestant majority community who felt that we were highlighting, as they saw it, the unjustified grievances of the Catholic community in public.
“Journalists in Belfast were more likely to receive an unwelcoming reception in Protestant areas while Catholics saw the notebooks of reporters and camera crews of television stations has the instrument through which they could bring about change.”
But he said the story had changed. The Protestants who resisted the interest of the media now saw it as the means of highlighting their grievances.