Late last night a headline appeared on STV news. The headline proclaimed support for Scottish independence had increased after the Brexit vote. Great news thought I.
However, almost immediately another headline appeared on the web site of The Herald. The newspaper informed readers that Brexit hadn’t resulted in increased backing for independence.
Bizarrely both headlines were based on the same poll results. It bred confusion on social media as people sought to determine which was telling the truth. I tracked down the survey dataset and concluded that – arithmetically – the STV headline was probably the more accurate.
The Herald though was also strictly accurate having based its own headline on a comment from Joe Twyman, YouGov’s Head of Political and Social Research who had told the newspaper: “In the short-term at least, the data suggests the vote to leave the EU has not boosted the cause of Scottish independence.”
Regardless of what prompted each headline, what can be stated without fear of contradiction is that many people simply didn’t trust what they were being told by each media outlet. Nobody believed either STV or The Herald.
The lack of trust in the Scottish media is widespread. On Thursday the reporting of the UK Supreme Court’s ruling on Named Person was the latest manifestation of a malaise that has plagued the Scottish media for years. There is an inability to report honestly.
The ruling by the court effectively delayed the introduction of the Named Person legislation. The Scottish Government was given 42 days to provide clarification on how it intends to protect data in order to ensure the policy complies with European Human Rights law.
However the corporate media sought, not to inform the public, but to influence through misinformation what the ruling actually meant. One newspaper claimed the SNP scheme had been described as ‘totalitarian’ by the judges. The BBC informed the public that the court had ‘ruled against’ Named person and that it had been ‘blocked’.
The coverage of the Court Ruling gave the impression that Named Person was dead in the water. Not for the first time, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had to intervene on social media in order to correct some of the more extreme journalistic exaggerations.
Despite the ‘totalitarian’ claim having been roundly dismissed as nonsense by almost every serious commentator, it still turned up on Radio Scotland on Saturday in a discussion on the Shereen Show.
The ‘impartial’ guest responsible for this pearl of chuckle-headed wisdom is Alison Rowat of The Herald.
The fact that those who had brought the case against the Named Person scheme had actually failed in their bid to have it scrapped was ignored by a media with an agenda. Reporting Scotland actually told viewers that the campaigners had won!
What caused the misreporting was not a desire on the part of individual journalists to lie, but the result of conditioning and peer-pressure brought on by a pro-Union culture that prevails within Scotland’s media. It’s a culture that instinctively demands anti-SNP narratives be sought and exaggerated by those who operate within it. It also demands a subtle change in tone or nuance to diffuse stories harmful to the pro-Union establishment that controls it.
Misreporting was a theme of the last independence referendum when anything that could be turned on its head in order to attack the Yes campaign or the SNP, was turned on its head. One very apt example, given the xenophobic theme of the recent EU referendum and the Trump campaign, occurred in December 2012.
The claims were also reported by BBC Scotland with the issue featuring on the Call Kaye Radio phone-in with host Kaye Adams telling listeners that “anti-English sentiment” was “up fifty per cent apparently over the last seven years” and linking the rise to the SNP.
The reports were false. Analysis of the figures showed that far from increasing, attacks on English people had actually fallen over the preceding twelve months.
Misreporting of Scottish politics and related issues is rife within Scotland’s corporate media. This misreporting has its southern equivalent as evidenced by the media campaign being mounted against Jeremy Corbyn.
The Yes movement is wise to what is going on. It’s why sites like this one, Newsnet and Wings Over Scotland are absolutely vital if we are to ensure the worst excesses of this media corruption are exposed.
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