Coveney funds research into allegations of bias in northern media
The Irish government helps fund research into media ‘use of the language’ in Northern Ireland.
His research will be part of a project exploring the potential impact of a united Ireland and the role the northern media play in the public debate on this issue.
The majority of newspapers in Northern Ireland are from a nationalist or unionist background, and critics say this often results in biased coverage. Telephone radio broadcasts in the north have also been accused of fueling divisions.
The new research that will explore these questions is part of the Future Relationship Conversations Project, which is partly funded by Simon Coveney’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
The project, which is led by a Derry-based community development organization, the Holywell Trust, will involve research into the impact of any constitutional change in Northern Ireland.
It could be a united Ireland, an independent Northern Ireland or the country remaining in the UK.
There are three dailies based in Northern Ireland. The Newsletter and Belfast Telegraph historically aimed at a trade unionist audience, while Irish news has always had a nationalist perspective.
The majority of local newspapers in Northern Ireland also historically have a “green” or “orange” background.
BBC Northern Ireland broadcasts two popular daily radio shows, Nolan’s show and To respond, while there is also a TV version of Nolan’s show.
There is also a morning phone show on Belfast-based radio station U105.
In particular, the radio version of Nolan’s show causes a lot of reactions. It is described by its host Stephen Nolan as “the biggest show in the country” – a claim supported by audience figures.
However, critics say he plays a divisive role in Northern Ireland.
An online petition this year calling for the show to be canceled has been signed by more than 13,000 people.
However, the BBC has criticized attempts to “smear and censor” its journalism. “None of this is compatible with freedom of the press. The BBC airwaves remain a place of inquiry and open debate – for everyone, ”said a spokesperson for the BBC.
The award-winning multi Nolan show also received support from the National Union of Journalists.
A call for tenders for new research on the role of the media in Northern Ireland has just been launched.
The call for tenders states that the aim of the research is’ to examine and assess the impact of the use of the language by media outlets based in Northern Ireland, and the positive / negative contribution this makes to the resolution of the division and to the deepening of the understanding of the constitutional question ”.
The research will be carried out over the next few months and its findings should be made public before the end of the year.
A spokesperson for the Future Relationship Conversations team said they had no “preferred outcome” on the constitutional question other than “to enhance the discussion by providing accurate and informed information.”
“There is a growing need and desire within communities to have a conversation about the future constitutional status of Northern Ireland and Ireland,” the spokesperson said.
“Brexit added an extra dimension to the conversation and made the possibility of a border poll more likely.
“It also clearly demonstrated the dangers of holding referendums with limited information on the outcome of decisions.
“We are convinced that if people are informed and engaged on the issues, and have the opportunity to shape and inform the debate, then the impact of the conversations will be less divisive in local communities. “