I have often thought that I would make a great Press Officer. I dont know what the SDLP Press Office looks like. I hope it has a kinda public counter…….where the great and the mediocre of Norn Iron journalism get the latest “press release”.
That is my kinda job. “Let me just check if you are on the list, Mr Mallie”. “Do you have any identification Mr Devenport?”. “Mr Emerson, I have removed you from the list because you have a potty mouth”. “Im sorry Mr Slugger O’Toole, that is not journalism”.
I have put my theory on SDLP-Press Relations to more than one SDLP politician. It has been suggested to me that I am the kinda person who should not be allowed anywhere near a Press Office. I “dont have the right qualities”…….well I think I have exactly the right qualities.
I bought the “Irish News” three times this week. That is £2.10 I will never see again…..Tom Kelly, Brian Feeney and Newton Emerson all wrote about the SDLP Conference. And Tom, Brian and Potty Mouth were not complimentary.
The layout in Armagh City Hotel provided a perfect illustration in how journalism works. Standing or sitting at the back of the Hall I observe that it seems normal practice for a journalist to leave a speech or debate about one minute before it ends. In the foyer…..or lobby……they ambush SDLP figures, some of whom seem ambushed by appointment. Incidently journalists are distinguishable at SDLP Conferences. They are the people who wear the poppies.
Then a few minutes after the ambush, it is possible to log on to Twitter and see a journalist tweet “SDLP sources say….” .
How helpful is all this?
Iam not for one moment suggesting SDLP need to break off contact with journalists. I am merely suggesting that things should be put into perspective. There is inevitably a core group of politicians at the heart of the SDLP, backed up by councillors, executive members, staffers, active and passive members and 95,000 voters who are entitled to know more about what is going on in the SDLP than any journalist.
When all is said and done, “Mark”, “Eamonn”, “Potty Mouth”, “Malachi”, “Ken”, “Suzanne”, “Fionnualla”, “Sam” and the rest dont pay a £20 annual subscription.