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There’s an easy way for BBC NI to defend its broadcasters against toxic sectarian slurs

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How wonderful to hear Conor Bradford back on the Radio Ulster airwaves this week, albeit to take his formal leave of them. The energy in the studio instantly fired up. It felt reassuring but edgy. Here was a man with entertaining anecdotes told with trademark elan and self-deprecating wit.

But Bradford’s a consummate broadcaster, like his colleagues Wendy Austin and Seamus McKee who joined the farewell on Good Morning Ulster. Never intimidated by the news or newsmakers. Retaining respect across the spectrum. Adept at balance.

How fortunate those journalists were. Not just being eyewitnesses to the complicated and tragic Troubles story, but also because for much of their careers they operated without the poisonous backdrop of social media.

Now, presenters have their reputations maligned by 30-seconds of tap-tap-tap on the keyboard by some ceasefire soldier. Mostly anonymous. Always ignorant or cavalier about libel.

Even in 2022, the smear reverts to that vilest of slurs: you’re a bigot working a sectarian agenda.

That’s right. Cutely navigating the labyrinth of editorial guidelines to pursue their own political agenda. In plain sight for us to witness.

This week, yet again, Stephen Nolan was targeted by those claiming his show devotes too much time to anti-Northern Ireland Protocol voices, specifically TUV leader Jim Allister and loyalist activist Jamie Bryson.

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The Twitter bile seeped towards other broadcasters too, with an online sectarian headcount of commentators, journalists and other contributors across BBC NI’s TV and radio........

© Belfast Telegraph

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