Perception and Reality

By McCREARY, Alf | The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), September 17, 1997 | Go to article overview

Perception and Reality


McCREARY, Alf, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)


There is a maxim in journalism and public relations which states that ``Perception is more important than reality, until it becomes reality.''

Recent events have shown, however, that reality has an awkward habit of upstaging perception. In other words, things are not always as they seem. Take, for example, the nomination of Dana to run for the Presidency of Ireland.

Since she first announced her possible candidacy, newspaper commentators both North and South gave her little or no chance of nomination.

Some wondered patronisingly what this ``innocent from abroad'' was doing in an Irish scenario where, they felt, she was out of her depth.

The perception was that a young woman representating conservative Catholicism had no mission in the hard and cynical world of politics.

That perception, however, was proved wrong. Dana may or may not become President, but the bookmakers odds have shortened from 100-1 to 5-1. The worldly-wise and cynical commentators have had to eat their words but, so far, I have seen no sense of collective apology for their earlier misjudgements. Reality has become more important than their perceptions.

Last week Channel 4 ran a sensational story alleging that the Queen, Prince Charles and the Spencer family had been involved in fierce rows about the funeral arrangements for Diana, Princess of Wales. At the time I queried these reports, especially in the light of strong denials from Buckingham Palace and the Spencer family.

This week the Queen has specifically refuted such allegations, which must have been extremely hurtful to her personally. So once again the perception, in this case a wrong perception, has been overtaken by reality. At this time of writing I have not read or heard any apology from Channel 4, but I doubt that sackcloth and ashes will be produced.

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