MEDIAWATCH : THE BBCNI ‘REVERSE NEWS SANDWICH’

The term “news sandwich” came to prominence in 2009 when Gordon Brown’s temper tantrums at his staff became part of the news agenda.

Basically, it is a technique to deliver bad news, where an aide would tell him good news, moving on to the bad news, before finishing with another good news story.

The aim, is to soften the blow of the bad news, and to have it outweighed by good news, so as not to damage morale in the workplace.

Maybe it’s me, or it’s purely coincidental, but there seems to have been a few examples of this regarding Irish League coverage on Newsline, only it’s a “Reverse news sandwich”, where it seems good or neutral stories have to be balanced with a bad or negative story.

When Cliftonville eliminated Cibalia from the UEFA Cup this summer, the BBC’s coverage (Having previously ignored Northern Ireland sides in Europe to that point) focused not on the result, but on the logistical difficulties of Cliftonville getting to their next round tie.

Granted there were difficulties involved, but the club made an itinerary to get to Croatia and back, which ran perfectly.

When the draw was made, it was a “Double draw” where the winners knew who they would play in the next round, where and when.

It’s not as if Cliftonville suddenly had a trip to Bulgaria thrust upon them, they knew there was a possibility it could happen if they won.

Put simply, it seemed bizarre that the focus should be so much on the logistical difficulties face by the club, rather than the fact they won the tie.

To use another sporting analogy, you wouldn’t cover a GAA team winning at Croke Park, and focus the report on traffic james getting home.

“It was horrible so it was, we were stuck in Dundalk so we were, there were tailbacks everywhere”

The Raymond Kennedy will he/won’t he scenario has also provided the BBC with some news currency over the past few months, with the story conveniently breaking one day before the start of the new Irish League season.

And thus, the news agenda was dominated by how “Football was ruining it for the rest of us” like student who gets the whole class put into detention, with Nelson McCausland cast in the role of angry teacher.

The press launch and generic vox pops from Irish League players, “Well Jackie, i’m looking forward to the new season …… blah blah blah” were left to feed on scraps of the sports bulletin.

More updates, usually along the lines of “The update is ……. nothing is happening” just happened to appear after a midweek fixture list where Linfield cut the gap on Glentoran, setting it up nicely for the next league round which featured the two playing each other.

That day, also saw the CIS Cup 3rd Round draw, which was lost in the news agenda, amidst the fact that nothing was happening regarding Raymond Kennedy.

Even the launch of the Carling Nations Cup descended into the Raymond Kennedy Show.

Tonight, football was leading the news agenda with Kennedy finally leaving.

Last night saw a re-arranged Irish League game take place, with Linfield beating Crusaders 8-1.

The report, led on comments made by Linfield manager David Jeffrey “Hitting out” at critics of his team, most notably concerning resouces available to him.

Now, I have praised and criticised Jeffrey in equal measure, and will happily admit that he has a liability for putting his mouth in it during interviews, but it does seem bizarre for him to make such comments after such a win.

Perhaps, he was asked a question and answered, rather than walking into the post-match interview with an agenda to speak of.

Instead of a report of a team playing well and winning a match, we hear a negative story about how the Irish League is imbalanced and uncompetitive.

This was Linfield’s biggest win in 4 years (Against a team who got relegated that season) and the fact that this weekend was the first time Linfield went top of the league and most importantly, if Cliftonville win their game in hand, they will only be 3 points off the top.

Perhaps, the Irish League isn’t that uncompetitive after all, but let’s not say that, it’s not a good story.

Maybe it’s just me, or it’s puely coincidental, but I await with interest, the latest bite on the “Irish League Reverse News Sandwich”

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