Current Affairs Politics

The Associated Press – Reporting The News Or Shaping The News?

Gerry Adams TD, President of Sinn Féin
Gerry Adams TD, President of Sinn Féin

Interesting headline accompanying a story syndicated by the Associated Press (AP),  the US-based news agency. It reads:

Sinn Fein Chief Asks IRA Die-Hards to End Violence

Sinn Féin “Chief“? Leaving aside the fact that the AP can’t even get the spelling right (that’s Sinn Féin not Fein – wonder how the AP does with other non-English names or titles?) one has to ask if other political leaders around the democratic Western World would be described as a “chief”? Is Ed Miliband the Labour Party Chief? Is Angela Merkel the CDU Chief? Is Reince Priebus the Republican Party Chief? Is Deborah Wasserman Schultz the Democratic Party Chief? One thinks not. But when it comes to Irish Republicans that handy lexicon of Irish Republican clichés is never too far away for international journalists (and quite a few at home).

As for the story itself another AP version of it contains the following:

“Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams appealed Friday to Irish Republican Army die-hards to stop their violence and to support his seemingly Quixotic campaign for a vote in Northern Ireland on uniting politically with the rest of the island, the long-elusive dream of Irish republicans.”

Who has decided that the campaign for the reunification of Ireland is “quixotic”? That it is unrealistic and impractical? That it is somehow personal to Gerry Adams only? The Associated Press?

Opinion pieces posing as news reporting is not journalism. Nor is shaping the news to predefined agendas.

11 comments on “The Associated Press – Reporting The News Or Shaping The News?

  1. I’m afraid I have to agree with the idea that a UI is unrealistic and impractical – at the moment. When I saw your headline I though you were referring to the BBC survey. I personally dont doubt the reasonable accuracy of the poll -given that the adminsitrators are running the south – but the choice of question – how would you vote in or border poll tomorrow(or similar) looks to me like a question selected to get a big NO answer – surely there should have been a question on UI as an apsiration?

    I think the BBC should be invited to defend that choice of question.

    That aside SF have managed to seriously mismanage this the border poll issue and embarass their spokespersons who appear who were not propely prepared to defend what in the current economic climate (North and South) is a difficult sell – SF have looked very sloppy – they could probably do with some proper competition.


    • I think the resurgence of Fianna Fáil will give Sinn Féin all the competition they need 😉

      Fine Gael stole FF’s clothes (and votes) and now FF is taking them back again. What times we live in… 😦

      On the BBCNI/MORI poll I have my doubts. 23% of Sinn Féin voters would vote against a reunited Ireland? Over 56% of SDLP voters would vote against a reunited Ireland? To me those percentages don’t add up, even with the rule of the IMF/ECB overlords down south. Surely even in these troubled times a 30% plus vote in favour of a reunited Ireland would be a reasonable expectation? Not 17%. Its just too low.

      I still favour 2019-2021 for the poll, if the conditions are right. Far too early now. From talking to people “in the know” the SF program is to accustom the electorates and media across the nation to the concept of a poll and a reunited Ireland, using 2016 and 2019 as ways of garnering support/interest, building up electoral support and interest north and south and then genuinely going for it.

      This is long-term strategy, not short-term, but I don’t think journalists and commentators have copped it. Think of SF’s ground-up electoral strategy north and then south over the last two decades and more: build slowly, embed locally, create a core of activists and voters, wait for the right convergence of events and then go for the target, each time going a little higher up the target-board.

      The caveat of course is SF’s so-so record of late on a host of issues and policies. If I was in the leadership I would be happy with the latest 18% poll rating but demanding to know why the hell it isn’t 25%?


  2. Back to your point in the post, The mainstream media is increasingly becoming opinion led as opposed to unbiased reporting of news. An unfortunate effect of their attempts to reverse the decline of print media. Perhaps it is time to revert to first principles: ie, reporting facts with context and solid investigative reporting without fear or favour.
    A collection of what amounts to printed blogs is surely a road to ruin?


    • I agree. Its the Fox News phenomenon. All news outfits take a certain slant (the Guardian versus the Daily Mail or the old Irish Press versus the Irish Independent) but it is much more pronounced now as mainstream news sources continue to fold. With newspapers/magazines dying and radio and TV stations farming out their news coverage (or cutting it altogether) things are getting dire. Less plurality not more. The internet helps diversity but it has its own problems of partisanship (even more so than the mainstream media in some ways).

      Its a complex subject. The rise of Netflix and similar sites programme producers is the next big challenge. Can’t see TV as we know it now surviving another 20 years. What happens with public broadcasting then? Look at RTÉ now. Its dreadful.


  3. Its beginning to look like a case of ‘one protests too much’ with these anti United Ireland elements. They have had plenty of air time to ridicule and laugh off a suggestion of a border poll courtesy of the establishment media. Surely the Unionists would be demanding the poll, if they believed what they were saying? They wouldnt pass up a chance to sicken the enemy would they? I have observed a biased media find plenty of pro uk people but it is amazing they cant seem to find anybody, apart from a shinner, that is pro United Ireland. Although if we are honest it isnt worth the hassle to be seen openly supporting a UI because the fascists like frazer would be used by the state to bully and harass you. For example, you could just imagine the intimidation a senior consultant at a hospital would get if he went on bbc newsline and stated he favoured a UI? In all likelihood he would be forced to hide from the baying mob that would be allowed to stand by the police, at the hospital entrance demanding he be sacked. Now could you imagine a protestant who favoured a UI declaring it? His life would be ruined i have no doubt. Loyalists tend to single out their own for harsh treatment if they mix with the other side. My point is that this state has and continues to bully and intimidate anyone who doesnt favour the UK so you arnt going to get too many shouting for a UI in public for obvious reasons. I know a few people, who just like me, dont vote or didnt fill in the census form due to habit. I sat and watched a woman who ‘thought’ she had to tick ‘northern irish ‘on the census form, due to her misunderstanding the question and in her haste to just fill the bloody thing in! She only filled it in because she feared a fine. I have no doubt this woman would vote in favour of a UI; she just doesnt fret about politics. The filling in of the census form was an irritation to most people and i have no doubt lots of people put very little thought into it when they were rushing to complete it. So all in all i find the more these pro UK people shout against a border poll the more i feel they actually fear it. Win, lose or draw i believe a border poll would galvanise nationalists to refocus on educating and promoting Irishness to any future generations who have been brainwashed by the pro british media that is unfortunately privalent in this part of the world.


    • I agree with all of your points. Certainly a “Yes” vote for a reunited Ireland in the 40-49% range would be one of the final nails in the coffin of the northern “statelet” and partition itself. It simply couldn’t be sustained in its present form after 40%+ of the population voted against its very existence. That is why I favour such a vote should the conditions be favourable.

      And why the leadership of the British Unionist fear it so much. And they do fear it, whatever spin media commentators are putting on it. No Unionist politician has explicitly come out demanding a referendum without hedging their bets, wrapping it in caveats, or withdrawing such a demand. That is significant.


  4. EmmetRising_1803

    It is far too early to seriously contemplate a border poll – particularly as we have not come to the outcome of the Scottish referendum yet. (And even then that mainly came about as a result of the ruling party in power, then again by my reckoning, does that assume SF would have to be the leading party north and south?). It is strangely fascinating how when he became leader of FF, in speeches to the party faithful Martin has stressed the party’s aspirations for unification which may set us up for something interesting, if not necessarily, promising down the road. Like it or lump it be it 2019 or beyond, there will have to be all-party support for the issue.

    It is definitely a longterm strategem by Sinn Fein, and who among us can predict the tide of events over the next decade to bring the tide in their favour? Early 2013 it would be foolhardy to write it off.


    • All-party support would be an asset but I suspect most southern parties will assume a stance of neutrality. “Its up to the people of the north to choose”. Even Fianna Fáil will probably go all mealy-mouthed. The most likely sources of support from south of the border will be SF TDs and a handful of genuinely Republican-minded Deputies willing to buck the party whip. And of course some European Left MEPs, or continental politicos, artists, poets, writers, maybe the odd celeb. I suspect we know what way Séamus Heaney would vote but what about the Liam Neesons and Patrick Kieltys?

      These things can take on a momentum of their own.


  5. EmmetRising_1803

    It’s far too overdone and lazy in using brief quotes (selected words even) of a renowned historical figure to lend credence to an argument, but in the midst of this discussion, let’s assume Commandant Barry replied to the above…


    • He had a point. The man was far more politically astute and imaginative than any mere soldier. He was a true revolutionary. If offered a reunited Ireland with an incorporated semi-autonomous north-east region and long-term peace I suspect I know what his answer would of been. His generation were politically more advanced than some of those who followed.


      • EmmetRising_1803

        Absoloutly, he does have a point… hence, well worth inclusion. Barry had an extraordinary way of observing events, and far more articulate then his detractors suggest. Couldn’t agree with your last sentence more, especially as I have strong family ties to that period.


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