Just over a week ago former First Minister Alex Salmond called out the ‘mongers of doom’ who were predicting calamity for the Scottish economy.
The intervention followed inaccurate predictions that Scotland’s economy was about to go into recession.
The roll-call of shame included BBC Scotland.
In his article for The National, Salmond wrote:
The first-quarter surge in Scottish GDP caught the Fraser economists by surprise. Point eight of one per cent doesn’t sound all that much but, in fact, it is FOUR times the comparable UK figure.
It is the equivalent of more than four per cent annual growth and puts Scotland into the international fast lane of current growth prospects for 2017, just as the UK has entered the slow lane.
However, whatever the embarrassment for the Fraser Institute, it is as of nothing compared to the abject humiliation of Unionist politicians, the mainstream media and the BBC. They have all been holed amidships.
Salmond’s intervention may or may not have been a sign that the SNP intends to take the gloves off when it comes to the BBC in Scotland. It was though evidence that those at the top of the party are well aware of the problems that exist within the state broadcaster’s Scottish branch.
Independence supporters are all too aware of the institutionalised corruption that leads to the kind of hype that Salmond called out. I myself have written a book on the subject. London Calling inspired a documentary of the same name.
Aside from these, and a year-long study of televised news by Professor John Robertson, there has been no concerted effort to monitor BBC Scotland political output. The corporation has trundled along much as it did prior to and throughout the independence referendum.
But the Yes movement is about to hit back. Last week an appeal was launched that aims to create a month-long pilot project. The project aim is simple. It will monitor BBC Scotland political output.
The project isn’t the brainchild of any one individual. There have been calls for some kind of scrutiny, analysis or research of BBC Scotland political output for years. It’s just that nobody has tried to put anything together … until now.
The basis sounds simple enough. Look for examples of BBC Scotland output that challenge claims of political impartiality. The practicality of such an exercise is far from simple.
The pilot project is therefore a proof of concept. A small group of dedicated individuals will record, watch, log and upload items that call into question BBC Scotland’s impartiality and/or indicate an agenda at work.
Once logged, this research will be passed onto a writer whose job will be to turn it into a readable and easily understood article. The hope is that a process can be established that results in a weekly article being published – perhaps every Sunday.
That’s not all. The pilot project will also endeavour to produce a slick and professional looking video programme that will examine items that have been broadcast. This is perhaps the most ambitious part of the project.
An appeal to fund the pilot project was launched late last Wednesday. The appeal target had reached 70% of its £2500 total within 18 hours of launch.
Despite a glitch that meant no donations could be made until 1pm the next day, the appeal coasted over the finish line hours after resumption. At the time of writing it stands at over £3000.
The pilot project will limit itself to televised news and current affairs programmes broadcast by BBC Scotland. This of course covers Reporting Scotland and Politics Scotland, both midweek and weekend broadcasts. It will log broadcasts similar to the two below.
The pilot won’t cover Radio Scotland. BBC Scotland’s two radio news programmes cover five and a half hours of airtime each weekday – too much to monitor as things currently stand. So it will be limited in what it can monitor.
Make no mistake. BBC Scotland political news output is shocking. It’s poor quality, parochial and partisan. This last week we’ve seen two press releases from the Tories turned into national headline news. Opinions from vested interest groups have led Reporting Scotland. Smear stories that try to piggy-back on the human tragedy of Grenfell have been lifted from newspapers.
This project may fail. The month long pilot may come to nothing. However, with a main stream media showing no appetite to scrutinise BBC Scotland and elements of our so-called ‘alternative media’ not sure what they are an alternative to, this project is all we have.
Let’s get behind these guys. The project appeal currently has eleven days left if you want to show your support. You can find it by clicking here.
[The project will begin in earnest when the Scottish Parliament reconvenes after its summer break. It is scheduled to run for a minimum of four weeks. The pilot may be extended if the project exceeds its target.]