The Electoral Commission has published its report on the 2003 Northern Ireland Assembly election. This coincides with the published research, The Media Election, conducted by Democratic Dialogue last January. DD’s report challenges the role that the media in NI played in the election.
The executive summary of The Media Election concludes:
Ouch. But about time. My blood boils whenever I hear a local journalist say, “But we’re neutral and have no effect on the election campaign.” Yeah, right. Of course, the job of a party communication officer is to try to influence what the media reports.
The report provides a contrast with Ms Atkinson of BBC Scotland has said (March 2003):
One could beg the question, is the communal divide the people’s agenda in Northern Ireland? What is the role of the media in its reportage in such an environment? Does acting neutral actually contribute to perpetuating the divide? (I had hoped the DD report would contextualise its report more in this way.)