Check out the size of my exclusive!

24 11 2007

I recently moved house. And I’m pleased to say I’m now finally back online so I’m hooking up with old friends… like the News Letter!

Ah, what did we find out from the News Letter this week? Well, that the News Letter will hand over a page (of revenue-boosting advertising space?) to a columnist (is Iris paid?) whose unique perspective (?) is merely reproduced from the DUP website – and simultaneously handed to a rival daily newspaper and its accompanying website for publication.

There was a lot of news this week (job losses everywhere and salmon-slaughtering jellyfish etc) but Iris’s suspension was the big political story. If you’re Darwin Templeton, you’re probably thinking: ‘Iris just made some news. Iris is my columnist. Check out the size of my exclusive!’

I’m not impressed by the size of Darwin’s exclusive.

‘When I heard the Health Minister’s excessively negative comments regarding the health allocation in the draft budget, I wanted to illustrate to members that he, along with his party leader, had agreed to this draft allocation at the Executive table. Undoubtedly UUP members were attempting to misrepresent that and aim to score cheap political points against the DUP.

“As a politician I have devoted a large part of my career towards working to improve our health service. I am convinced we can have a service fit for purpose and a service to be proud of but we need an end to the inaction of the Health Minister.

“The minister must get on with reforming the health service. The budget for health has almost doubled since 2002, yet no one would suggest the service people receive is twice as good today. The DHSSPS now receives 48 per cent of the Northern Ireland block grant. Such high allocations are unlikely to be sustainable in the future against other competing priorities. If the Health Minister continues to resist change and bury his head in the sand, then even 100 per cent of the block grant would ultimately not be enough for him.”


“When I heard the minister’s negative comments regarding the health
allocation in the draft budget, I wanted to highlight to members that he, along with his party leader, had agreed to this draft allocation at the Executive table.

“Undoubtedly UUP members were attempting to mislead the chamber and score political points against the DUP.

“… I have devoted a large part of my career towards working to improve our health service. I believe we can have a service fit for purpose and a service to be proud of but we need an end to the inaction of the health minister.

“The minister must take action with regard to reforms within his department. The health budget has almost doubled since 2002 yet many people within Northern Ireland will rightly point out that the service has not improved at the same rate. The DHSSPS now receives 48% of the Northern Ireland block grant. If [he] continues to resist change and bury his head in the sand, then 100% of the block grant will ultimately not be enough for him.”

“When I heard the Minister’s negative comments regarding the health allocation in the draft budget, I wanted to highlight to members that he, along with his Party Leader, had agreed to this draft allocation at the Executive table. Undoubtedly UUP members were attempting to mislead the Chamber and score political points against the DUP.

“As a politician I have devoted a large part of my career towards working to improve our health service. I believe we can have a service fit for purpose and a service to be proud of but we need an end to the inaction of the Health Minister.

“The Minister must take action with regard to reforms within his Department. The Health budget has almost doubled since 2002 yet many people within Northern Ireland will rightly point out that the service has not improved at the same rate. The DHSSPS now receives 48% of the Northern Ireland block grant. If the Health Minister continues to resist change and bury his head in the sand, then even 100% of the block grant will ultimately not be enough for him.”

The words of a News Letter column were published verbatum 24 hours before the News Letter published them. Oh dear.

Is Jean Long entirely happy that her newspaper’s columns are reproductions of party press releases? Or that her newspaper’s columns appear simultaneoulsy in rival publications?

Surely a columnist is handed space to fill with their own unique perspective; and columnists should enliven and enhance the quality of the newspaper generally? What can Darwin think? Does he feel that his columnist is taking the piss? Is Jean Long happy to see lucrative newspaper real estate being filled in such a way? What value does the Iris Robinson column add?

Otherwise, the News Letter is improving tremendously. Among other things, it’s packing in more news – like its Irish News section – which adds greater perspective to its coverage.

But look forward to seeing whether the Robinson issue really is an issue…

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