Is it poetic justice, or a reflection of our thirst for news, that one of the world's media hotspots has itself spawned such a large number of media outlets?
Northern Ireland has many daily, provincial and Sunday newspapers, numerous specialist magazines, two television broadcasters and four main radio stations. They can be a good way of getting to grips with our complex national psyche so, to help you get under our skin, here are some of Belfast's brightest media luvvies.
Belfast Telegraph tel. (+44) 0)28 9026 4000. Known colloquially as the 'Tele', the first copies hit Belfast's streets in 1870. It takes a non-partisan line and its website is particularly popular with overseas ex pats, presumably pining for the green fields and random news stories of home. The iconic building on Royal Avenue has now been sold,marking the newspaper's first move in its illustrious history.
News Letter The Metro Building, 6-9 Donegall Sq South, tel. (+44) (0)28 9089 7700. Founded in 1737, the News Letter is the world's oldest English-language newspaper still publishing under its original name. Its greatest world exclusive came on August 23, 1776 when it ran a cover story on the American Declaration of Independence, a copy of which had fetched up on Ireland's shores after hitting stormy waters off Derry en route to King George lll. The News Letter takes a pro-Unionist line, and runs a weekly column in the Ulster Scots dialect. Former PM Tony Blair opened its shiny new city centre offices in May 2007, and Queen Elizabeth ll described the News Letter's longevity as "an achievement in which the people of Northern Ireland can take great pride". Stop by its ground floor bookshop and treat yourself to some locally-inspired reads.
Irish News 113 Donegall St, tel. (+44) (0)28 9032 2226. The Irish News was founded in 1891 but dates back to 1855 with the launch of the Belfast Morning News. In 1890 Irish nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell's affair with Kitty O'Shea led to a bitter divorce scandal, splitting Parnell's supporters. The Belfast Morning News supported Parnell while the new Irish News adopted an anti-Parnell platform. A year later, the Irish News overtook its rival and today it is Northern Ireland's main nationalist newspaper and only independently owned daily newspaper. The paper provides particularly comprehensive Gaelic Sports coverage.
Belfast Media Group 2 Hannahstown Hill, tel. (+44) (0)28 9061 2345. Belfast Media publish a host of community newspapers across Belfast, notably Andersonstown News, North Belfast News and South Belfast News as well as a selection of spin-off publications including The Irish Echo (an Irish-American newspaper also sold in the US).
An Phoblacht/Republican News 58 Parnell Square, Dublin. A 1979 amalgamation of two newspapers, AP/RN is Ireland's main Republican political daily with offices in Belfast and Dublin. It is strongly affiliated with Sinn Fein and provides social and economic analysis and a political forum for Irish nationalists. IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands contributed to the paper from his prison cell under the pen-name 'Marcella'.
The BBC and Ulster Television(UTV) are Northern Ireland's two main television broadcasters and provide a smorgasbord of national and locally-produced programmes.
The BBC is publicly funded by compulsory TV licenses. UTV is a commercial channel owned by the UK-wide ITV network. Both channels' news programmes - UTV Live and BBC Newsline - broadcast weeknights at 18:00 and 18:30 respectively.
BBC Radio Ulster 92.4-95.4 FM & 1341 MW. News, features, phone-ins, politics and music aimed mainly at 30+ listeners with the notable exception of nightly music show Across The Line.
Belfast 89FM - community station based in the city centre with talk shows and 60s & 70s music aimed at ages 55+.
U105 Belfast's newest commercial radio station caters for the over 40s with a mix of throwback music and across-the-board chat. The station is owned and run by Ulster Television (UTV).
Q Radio 96.7FM. Belfast-based radio station with music, chat, news, features and phone-ins aimed at the 25-49 age range.
Cool FM 97.4FM. Providing chart and clubbing music, news, sport and features for the teenage and young adult market.
Downtown Radio (DTR) 1026AM. Playing music from the 60s to present day aimed at 30+ age range. DTR is Cool FM's older sibling.