• media;
  • conflict transformation;
  • Northern Ireland

In December 2007, Northern Ireland's newly elected First and Deputy First Ministers, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, were pictured sitting happily together on a read leather sofa at the new IKEA superstore in Belfast. It was an image that served as a powerful symbol of the region's political transformation and economic optimism. Yet, within months of this photo opportunity, global financial crisis and economic recession shattered hopes that a meaningful, economic ‘peace dividend’ would underpin the new political dispensation. This article takes a critical look at the media's role in conflict transformation in Northern Ireland; how they projected new and more positive images of life in the region and chronicled the daily business of ‘bread and butter politics’. However, it also identifies chronic decline among some sections of the regional media, particularly Belfast's daily newspapers, just when they are needed to monitor and debate political decision-making in a time of austerity.