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.Views: 5896