The manner in which Census details have been reported by the mainstream media here has been described as ‘shameful, irresponsible and unprofessional’ by the Workers Party.
All the main media outlets have focussed, almost exclusively, on the reported religious breakdown of the community, variously describing the figures as ‘hugely significant‘, ‘historic‘ and ‘seismic‘. One went as far as to say that, of the 60 questions on the Census form, ‘…only one was going to grab the headlines’.
Headlines, of course, don’t make themselves, they are selected and written by journalists. In this case, without exception, those journalists, many of them building up the ‘story’ from the day before, chose to reinforce and underline the sectarian, orange and green, narrative that infests Northern Ireland politics by using religious backgrounds as surrogates for voting intentions and dismissing the real political determinants in society.
In their shameful, irresponsible and unprofessional frenzy to headline ‘headcount politics’, the local media have, very successfully, delivered and reinforced the tribal agendas of the major parties and the local sectarian cheerleaders. This has not been their finest hour.