Media analysts need to report talks, not create own narratives

In this era of 24-hour news, on demand TV and Twitter, there is a real sense in which the media (in whatever form) seem to create stories and narratives rather than report them. One example is the impact of a potential Conservative-DUP arrangement at UK level on talks to restore a devolved Executive in Northern Ireland.

It seems to me some in the media have decided that this creates a problem because it apparently imbalances the talks process.

What is interesting, and indeed to be applauded, is that Sinn Féin itself has said no such thing. It has suggested that a Conservative deal is not in the interests of Northern Ireland in general, and there are many who share that view. But in fact it has said clearly that it wishes to get on with the talks process, noting that it never saw the UK Government as impartial anyway (a point it made frequently long before last Thursday). Indeed, its implicit position is that the restoration of a Conservative Government of any kind is all the more reason to restore political powers to this part of Ireland – which, if it becomes explicit, is an entirely logical and sensible position for any left-leaning party to hold (and even more so for an Irish Republican one).

For all their faults, both the DUP and Sinn Féin generally say what they mean. The DUP got a mandate on a specific platform of restoring devolution “with no red lines”; Sinn Féin has said we should get to work. The media’s role is to report that is what they have said, not to create a notion of further instability based on the analysis of those same “pundits” who misread how well those two parties would do in the election in the first place.

Although of course I stand opposed to them vehemently on most of the issues, it is the DUP and Sinn Féin who will decide whether they want devolution restored, and the evidence of a fairly tame election campaign (for which both were rewarded by the voters) and a reasonably mature line taken after it is that they do. So they should be given every chance to prove they can deliver. After all, where there is a will there is a way.

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