Out with the old

It is often said that the media is a lens through which people view society. By this account, people’s perception of their society is shaped – or, at least, coloured – by the way it is portrayed in media that they consume. To whatever extent this may be so, what a grotesquely distorted understanding of Scottish society we would be led to expect might prevail among uncritical consumers of the messages purveyed by the mainstream media in the UK.

The anti-SNP and pro-Union bias of the bulk of the broadcast and print media in Scotland has been thoroughly studied by the likes of Dr John Robertson and comprehensively catalogued by such as GA Ponsonby. But we hardly need this confirmation. The evidence of our own senses is enough to assure us of the media’s efforts to present Scotland as something akin to a failed state.

Day in, day out we are presented with tales of crisis and catastrophe which only on closer examination prove to have little or no basis in reality. Every institution that is distinctively Scottish has come under incessant attack since the first independence referendum. NHS Scotland, Police Scotland in particular have been the targets of often ludicrously contrived negative stories.

According to Dr Robertson’s analysis, negative headlines about the Scottish Government, the SNP and various Scottish institutions on BBC Scotland outnumber non-negative stories by about three to one.

Every day, GA Ponsonby, Stu Campbell (Wings Over Scotland) and others identify numbers of stories which range from the woefully ill-informed through the deliberately misleading to the downright dishonest; all sharing the common characteristic of presenting a warped and derogatory view of Scotland.

And yet, despite the relentless, grinding negativity, public satisfaction with the all the targets of this propaganda remains consistently high. In some instances not just high, but extraordinarily high. The Scottish Government was recently found to be the most trusted in the EU – more than three times more trusted in Scotland than the UK Government. Satisfaction with NHS Scotland is at record levels in spite of it being arguably the principal target of unionist smears.
The efforts of the mainstream media to persuade us that Scotland is a hell-hole  have clearly failed. It is worth asking ourselves why this is.

In part, I believe, it because the version of reality presented by the old media is so exaggeratedly awful that there is a disconnect between this representation and the everyday lived experience of most people. Basically, those who would undermine our confidence in Scotland and ourselves are just trying too hard. This is a measure of how much they fear the self-belief that was ignited by the Yes movement.

Because of this disconnect between representation and reality, people lose trust in the mainstream media and begin to look elsewhere for information. That is where alternative media comes into play.

Another product of the original Yes campaign, Scotland’s online news, analysis and commentary services have grown into a significant force and a defining feature of Scottish society. Competing initially in terms of numbers, these websites have also come of age in terms of authority. A process accelerated by the declining credibility of sources perceived as representing almost exclusively the views and priorities of a British establishment increasingly out of touch with Scotland’s distinctive political culture.

And that’s where indyref2.scot comes in. Our aim is to be a credible and authoritative source of news, analysis and commentary relating to Scotland’s political scene. We are explicitly pro-independence and committed to the campaign to defend Scotland’s right of self-determination and the effort to build demand for a fresh referendum.

Most importantly, we are dedicated to being the positive, but honest, lens on Scottish society that the mainstream media so often fails to be. The old media has largely abandoned its role as an adjunct to the democratic process – there to inform and explain and illuminate. The new media must take up that role.

Personally, I make no claims to infallibility. On occasion, I may get it wrong. But I will never lie to readers or wilfully mislead them. If the mainstream media could credibly make such a claim, I might not be addressing you at all.

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12 thoughts on “Out with the old

  1. Jean

    Thanks Peter. I too wish that we had honest media…because if we had then we would be living in an independent Scotland.

  2. barpe4

    “But I will never lie to readers or wilfully mislead them.”

    That is all I ever expect from a commentator – would that our BBC and print media could offer the same.

    Another breath of fresh air to the debate – best wishes !

  3. Bobby McPherson

    Thank you Peter we’re a cannae lot us Scots to have sussed the propaganda war and created something ultimately more powerful yhe online alternative media sources creatively contributing to the growth of self belief and confidence in ourselves and our democratically elected government.

  4. Kate

    “On occasion, I may get it wrong. But I will never lie to readers or wilfully mislead them. If the mainstream media could credibly make such a claim, I might not be addressing you at all.”

    Like someone has already posted, that is all we hope for, a non biased MSM who when they do get it wrong also apologise.

  5. Andrew Scott

    Peter, is it possible to add or enable Fa6and Twitter “share” buttons? Their absence seems to be common to WordPress websites though.

  6. Jim Savage

    What I cannot understand is why MSM persist with their anti SNP propaganda when it is clear that they are losing the argument. The trend is that the SNP are gaining support and there is no suggestion that this trend will reverse any time soon.

    So, why does MSM stick to their agenda when they are losing readers, alienating viewers and ultimately losing money. Newspapers tend to support and endorse the principles and politics of their readers.

    Why are they bucking the trend? Blind hatred of the SNP should be the territory occupied solely by Scottish Labour. Oops, maybe I have answered my own question.

  7. Proud Cybernat

    One formidable ‘Bell’ sadly peeled his final toll only months past. But now another rises to the campanile to ring truth throughout the land.

    Keep it up, Mr Bell. I always enjoy reading your thought-provoking articles. I wish INDYREF2 good tidings.

  8. Bryan Haire

    I get annoyed by the continual use of the phrase “the SNP Government” rather than the Scottish Government by the MSM. Do they describe the UK Government as the Conservative Government? They certainly do not.
    The MSM and both STV and the BBC have lost all credibility with most thinking people. It really is time for a change. I also laugh at Lab/Con/Lib cries of a one party state……..if that were the case these idiots would be unemployed.

  9. saga city

    Many thanks Peter. I always enjoy you pieces and this will be the first of many a daily visit to Indyref2.

    Sam Miller has an outstanding piece in WGD about the gradualist approach to Independence and how this will appeal to some and not to others. Some are more impatient than others and it is understandable that those of a certain age (including me) are concerned time will not allow them to experience the joy of living in a truly independent Scotland.

    In the current Scottish Government we have a thoroughly respectable and respected administration who follow the rules and are moving inexorably forward toward the goal of Independence. No shortcuts, no false promises just solid honest movement onward which the opposition cannot counter despite the barrage of lies, misrepresentation and manipulation of the ‘facts’.

    We must not give up – we have come far, much further than we could have believed even 10 years ago. OK we fell just short of winning Indyref1 but we should remember it took us two goes before we voted for a separate Scottish Parliament and another chance will come – and we will be infinitely better prepared for Indyref2.

    Meantime the print and broadcast media are destroying what little credibility they have left. What ammunition have they remaining with which to fight another round? They are becoming more and more tedious and unbelievable.

  10. Rob James

    Delighted to have another pro indy site to turn to and I look forward as usual to reading your contributions Peter.

  11. Kevin

    Well done, this is a truly great piece. Very well written.

    Please keep going, we need people like you so that others see the truth.

    Maybe, just maybe, the BBC will decide that they must change and start to give a balanced outlook. Here’s hoping.

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