Word around the media campfire is that the News Letter’s Political Editor Stephen Dempster is moving on to the BBC’s Spotlight programme.
I know Stephen always got lots of stick for his coverage. The fractured nature of Unionism meant the political coverage of Unionism’s daily newspaper would always find enthusiastic objectors from some quarter or another. The fact that he was in post for so long may suggest that he was largely successful in keeping the News Letter’s coverage within the slipstream of mainstream Unionist thinking (or it may not. That too depends on your viewpoint!).
No question, the News Letter’s political editorship is a tough job. It requires considerable political skills in managing the demands of contacts and the expectations of the political elite, in ensuring high level of access while avoiding accusations of partiality, and all the while delivering genuine insight that will keep readers interested (and maintain sales).
For one reason or another, Unionist politicians invest unhealthily high expectations in the News Letter’s political output. That must stop/be stopped. If the News Letter is to grow within a constantly adapting, agile, multi-platform media-sphere then how engaging can endless tit-for-tat spats over who’s the toughest unionist be? It would be different if the Unionist elite was choc-full of colourful personalities. But it isn’t. How could information about this often less-than-dynamic parish of opinion engage a wider universe of online media consumer?
But that’s one for Darwin Templeton to wrestle with. And I bet the Unionist parties will be filling your lunch diary, Darwin, to help make your decision less burdensome.
In the meantime, farewell Stephen Dempster. Boy, you’ve earned a break! Best of luck in all that you do…