There is an onus on BBC Northern Ireland to use a range of historians
A letter from Nelson McCausland:
As a regular viewer of news and current affairs on BBC Northern Ireland it seems that whenever a programme requires input on the history of Ulster or Ireland the only person the researchers can find is Eamon Phoenix.
Have all the other historians disappeared into some cosmic black hole specially reserved for historians? Surely not!
Now this is not in any way a criticism of Eamon Phoenix who is an able historian and an articulate broadcaster. I have read some of his work on Irish nationalist politics and Gaelic culture and those who have not read his books may well be familiar with his daily column in a nationalist newspaper.
My concern and my criticism are directed at BBC NI, since it is a public service broadcaster, paid for by every licence holder and bound by national commitments to fairness, diversity and transparency.
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So when it comes to historians, is it too much to ask that BBC NI considers a broader pool of historians? There must be other historians out there and even some unionist historians?
I enjoy the daily Sky News channel’s newspaper review, which is broadcast each evening at 10.30, and they use 14 commentators over a week, with two commentators each evening. Wednesday night usually features a Conservative-supporting journalist from the Daily Mail and a Labour-supporting journalist from the Mirror, ensuring a diversity of perspectives. .
In the same way there is no single perspective among historians, so why can we not have a diversity of historians?
There is a permanent onus on the BBC to honour its commitments and a particular onus as we celebrate the centenary of Northern Ireland.
Nelson McCausland, Newtownabbey
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