It began with the Newsnet Scotland blogspot way back in the Spring of 2009 [That’s the logo above]. It ends here in November 2017. What an eight years it’s been.
This is the last article I’ll ever write folks. Don’t worry. I’m not stressed, depressed or exhausted. It’s just that I’m now turning my attention to areas, and more importantly people, I’ve neglected during this period.
When I created the Newsnet Scotland blog eight years ago it was with the specific intention of exposing the pro-Union bias of our main stream media. The 2009 micro-blog covered newspaper articles and BBC news. The blog supplemented an online newsletter of the same name.
The blog eventually begat a fully-fledged news/opinion online site also called Newsnet Scotland. Newsnet was first alternative outlet to emerge from the micro-blog swamp and stand upright on its own dot com legs.
There was nothing quite like it. Newsnet Scotland grew rapidly. Articles attracted comments by the hundreds. People promoted the site using banners. Volunteers wanted to help. Looking back, Scotland’s pro-independence alternative media was born that day on March 2010. Will the rest ever acknowledge it? I doubt it.
The success of Newsnet was down to the people involved. Ordinary people with no agendas, save that they desired an independent Scotland. Paul Kavanagh, Lynda Williamson and myself were at its core. On the periphery were scores of others, some who I cannot name. All were dedicated and talented. Ordinary folk – and that was the key – doing extraordinary things.
The site was so successful that it was banned by the BBC. It may sound unbelievable, but the very act of posting a comment that contained the word ‘Newsnet’ onto a BBC blog triggered a profanity filter. The comment never saw the light of day. People had their accounts closed by the BBC if they tried to post links to Newsnet articles.
This was genuine citizen journalism at its best. So rattled was BBC Scotland that I was told by a very reliable source that Ken MacQuarrie once decried “those bastards at Newsnet”.
You know you have an effective alternative media when the traditional media attacks it. Does the Yes movement have an effective alternative media now? Aside from Wings Over Scotland, I cannot think of a single online outlet that causes concern to the main stream media. Not one.
Indeed those involved with today’s ‘alternative’ sites seem reluctant to challenge and/or expose main stream media corruption for fear of damaging their own reputation or career.
Don’t get me wrong. There are very good and very worthy writers out there. The aforementioned Paul Kavanagh’s ‘Wee Ginger Dug’ blog is fantastic with genuine alternative content. I also commend James Kelly’s ‘Scot Goes Pop’ blog. Peter A. Bell’s rapier like sentences skewer an opponent like no other writer. I hope he continues to post articles on this site.
But these are individuals, and none make the kind of grandiose and patently ridiculous claims that emanate from some other sites. Did you know that one so-called alternative media site claims to have attracted two and a half million unique readers? Towards the end of the independence referendum Newsnet Scotland and Wings Over Scotland combined could only boast one and a half million unique readers. I smell shite.
The Yes movement remains solid. The 2014 referendum and its campaign has ensured that independence will remain at the centre of Scottish politics until it is achieved. Democracy, like evolution, cannot be halted. Those who took part in the first Indyref campaign will be just as energised, motivated and committed come the second. I don’t really see a problem for the Yes movement save for occasional diversions at the hands of those who would place their own personal agendas first. These diversions, like the RISE debacle, will come and go but the lifeblood of the movement – i.e. that which gives it life – is the desire for independence. People will unite when the second ‘battle’ is upon us.
Remains not only the biggest obstacle to independence but the biggest problem for Scottish democracy. The corporation north of the border is defined by its news and current affairs output. Even its most ardent defenders admit there are serious issues that have to be addressed.
BBC Scotland is a regional broadcaster masquerading as a national broadcaster. It is effectively forbidden from venturing outside its own borders [Recent short sojourns to Catalonia notwithstanding] which means an overreliance on parochial news. Thus, Scots are presented with a never-ending stream of tabloid style negative headlines about key Scottish institutions.
Scotland’s education system, its health service, its police, its fire service and of course its government are constantly headlined as though inept, failing, in crisis and nearing collapse. Cheap stories contrived from lazy Freedom of Information requests regularly dominate news output from BBC Scotland.
The image of Scotland, when viewed via the colonial/parochial lense of Pacific Quay, is of a failing nation. There is often no context to stories or UK/world comparisons that might serve to educate the public and perhaps offer them an alternative narrative. There is nothing to suggest that the Scottish government is in fact performing well.
But it’s the area of political output that is the most concerning. BBC Scotland political news and current affairs is rancid. The station is corrupt to its core. Stories are routinely sidelined. Some are never reported at all. What other nation has a national broadcaster that refuses to cover not one, but two foreign visits by its own national leader?
Language is carefully manipulated. Unionist politicians are rarely if ever pursued. Inaccuracies are never corrected. What national broadcaster refuses to highlight very specific promises made to the nation when facts emerge that prove the promises will never be kept?
BBC Scotland reporters and presenters do what they are told to do. They read from scripts prepared for them. They adhere to a laid down template. Like employees in all large organisations, they know what is expected of them and are familiar with the culture within which they operate. They are state-sponsored ham-actors reading out lines. They are not journalists.
Evidence of something rotten at the heart of BBC Scotland’s political news and current affairs output is now overwhelming. It’s part of the reason I feel able to give up blogging. There is no requirement for any more evidence.
The events in Catalonia has underscored what I’ve been arguing for years about the BBC. Remarkably the BBC’s corrupt reporting of the Catalan situation has prompted several leading Yes commentators to criticise the corporation. Yet these same voices are silent when the corporation employs the same corrupt practices right on their own doorstep.
The question remains for those who consider themselves leaders, or senior figures, in the Yes movement. What do you intend to do about the corrupt state broadcaster? To do nothing is to risk losing the next independence referendum.
The Scottish Independence Convention
A good idea with the wrong people in charge. That’s my gut feeling about the SIC. I tried to get information from this organisation way back when. It was like getting blood from a stone.
At the time of writing this final article the SIC is set to hold an event in Edinburgh this Saturday. I contemplated going but eventually decided against – £16.50 seemed too pricey.
The event on Saturday will be successful and energetic. Yessers will get to meet up and swap stories and ideas. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it? But it has the look of a money making venture for me. Agendas require to be funded.
I’ve already covered the Scottish Independence Convention in this article published on August 12th. I see problems ahead for it. If you’re looking for a genuine grass-roots get together, I’d urge you to take a look at this local groups conference in Dunblane.
My final remark in my final article. The pro-independence movement has always wanted a pro-independence newspaper. And now we have one … or do we?
The National suffers from under-investment. It doesn’t have a great deal of genuine news content. At the time of writing my final article its front page story is an ‘exclusive’ that turns out to be another report from the Common Weal.
The National has problems. The chief one is who reads it? Click on an article on the website and you are asked to pay a subscription of £1.74 per week. At a stroke, those who the Yes movement desperately need to persuade away from the Union are barred from viewing content that might just achieve this.
Who, other than committed Yes supporters, buy the newspaper? I can’t imagine there will be many who pick up a copy from their newsagent. There are some I know who buy The National with the specific intention of leaving it somewhere for others read. But is this really going ensure it is circulated in the numbers required to make even a modest impact?
Do I welcome the arrival of The National? Yes, of course I do. But it has to be made available to those who have no desire to purchase it. It has to be ‘Metroed’ – i.e. handed out free. Until then, Yessers will be handing their cash to Newsquest, and perhaps even helping fund The Herald, for little return. As things stand, Newsquest is selling sand to the Arabs.
That’s all form me folks. See you all on the other side.
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