Channel 4’s 4iP fund is continuing its pattern of investing in projects that “keep an eye on money and power” by funding Northern Ireland’s best-known political blog, Slugger O’Toole, paidContent:UK has learned.
It is 4iP’s first joint investment with media agency Northern Ireland Screen. The investment size is unknown, along with whether 4iP has taken equity, and the deal will be announced later.
Slugger was started in 2002 by political analyst and journalist Mick Fealty. It has grown to have multiple contributors and wields serious influence in Stormont politics – 96% of the Northern Ireland assembly’s MLAs are readers (ComRes/Stratagem: 2008). The investment has added resonance, with the assembly’s DUP/Sinn Fein power-sharing agreement strained by police reform proposals.
4iP’s portfolio already includes civic online reporting and interrogation projects Help Me Investigate, Talk About Local and Yoosk. It was attracted by Slugger’s rootsy expression of citizen views, believing it fills a gap in coverage of local and devolved national politics.
“We will help make Slugger’s proposition more accessible to the mainstream and further spread its ethic of ‘play the ball not the man’,” said the 4iP investment commissioner Ewan McIntosh. “People want to debate the issues, not the politicians.”
The site will relaunch in the new year and will also be spreading to political constituencies other than Northern Ireland. McIntosh added: “We will help make Slugger’s proposition more accessible to the mainstream and further spread its ethic of ‘play the ball, not the man’. People want to debate the issues, not the politicians.”