The stories Reporting Scotland doesn’t want to cover

You’ll often find them pushed down the priority list, manipulated to remove key elements, or worse still ignored altogether.  They’re the stories that Reporting Scotland just doesn’t want to cover.

On Tuesday just such a story broke when the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland [RIAS] issued a press release warning that lives could be at risk due to badly constructed buildings.

The statement was prompted by the collapse of a school wall last year and the subsequent report published last week.

Below are excerpts from the RIAS press release.

The Report, written by independent expert, Professor Cole, highlights highly significant risks.

The Report strongly signals that it is incumbent on every public commissioning authority to read this important, carefully written and considered report, consider its conclusions and act upon them. This will require significant expertise at substantial cost – however not to act may cost lives.

The Cole Report emphasises the potential danger from major latent defects in recently constructed buildings.  The fact that the collapse of the wall bringing down nine tonnes of masonry at an Edinburgh Primary School in January 2016 did not result in infant deaths was, according to the report down to mere “timing and luck”.

RIAS Secretary, Neil Baxter, commented, “This Report demands a response – and don’t underestimate it – that response may save lives!”

This was, and remains, a major news story.  A respected body has issued a warning that unless hundreds of buildings, constructed from 2000 onwards, are inspected then people may die.  The President of the RIAS, Willie Watt called for “An early process of inspection by appropriately qualified experts” to proceed as urgently as possible.

But by the time Reporting Scotland aired, the story did not lead the programme.  Instead a set-piece item targeting mental health provision in Scottish schools won that accolade.

The item was introduced by Jackie Bird who helpfully informed viewers that “unlike the rest of the UK, Scotland has no national strategy” and that the system had “consistently failed to meet its waiting time targets”.

It was a bog-standard bad news item that Reporting Scotland has become famed [notorious] for.  Considerable time and effort had been spent collating statistics that would bolster the ‘bad news’ message.

It was a pre-planned thinly disguised attack on the Scottish government with references to ‘local authority budget pressures’ … i.e. cuts.

What prompted the mental health story was unclear.  The item wasn’t a breaking news story prompted by an unfortunate event.  Had charities issued a report or survey?  None was mentioned, nor was any press statement on their behalf highlighted.  Indeed, so generic was the item that it could have been run on any day this week and in any place in the programme.

It was so banal that any half decent breaking story should have resulted in it being pushed down the running order.  The RIAS story wasn’t just half-decent, it was a full blown story of national importance.  Lives, according to this highly-respected body, are at risk.

But Reporting Scotland had a different view.  The RIAS warning wasn’t considered important enough to lead the programme.  It wasn’t even considered important enough to place second.  In fact the ‘lives at risk’ warning was deemed worthy enough only for fourth spot in the Reporting Scotland running order.

If you watched the clip above you’ll have caught Jackie Bird and Andrew Kerr try to undermine the reputation of RIAS by suggesting the warning issued by the body is less about public safety and more about creating jobs for the profession.  The exchange between the two however suggested that the so-called ‘controversy’ was manufactured by Kerr himself.

So why sideline such an important, and with council elections looming, relevant story?

At the heart of the story lies of course PFI.  The now discredited scheme was introduced by the Conservative government in the nineties and embraced by the incoming Labour government headed by Tony Blair.  Gordon Brown expanded the scheme and in Scotland the then First Minister Jack McConnell coerced local authorities into using it.

BBC Scotland has studiously avoided any mention of Brown and McConnell in any of its bulletins.  The broadcaster has given the impression of hoping the PFI story would just go away.

The press-release by RIAS was given minimal resource by the Reporting Scotland team and minimal priority.  Andrew Kerr was sent with a camera to stand in George Square.  There was no interview of RIAS officials.

Pecking Order

It wasn’t just the RIAS warning that found itself shunted down the pecking order on Tuesday.  An announcement by the Scottish government of significant investment for new teachers was also marginalised.

The short item below was included in Reporting Scotland’s ‘bits and pieces’ section.

If you relied on Reporting Scotland you wouldn’t have learned that Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, Chief Secretary to the UK Treasury David Gauke, the Welsh Government’s Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford and Stormont Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir had met in Edinburgh that very day.  The representatives of the devolved administrations issued a statement attacking the UK government’s lack of information on Brexit.  There was no mention of this on Reporting Scotland.

Speaking of Brexit, there was a highly significant statement issued by the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt.  Speaking to The National, Verhofstadt said:

“Europe hasn’t forgotten that a large majority of the Scottish people voted to remain.

“We need the Scottish people and their firm European beliefs.  Scotland has shaped European civilisation, through iconic figures such as David Hume, Alexander Fleming and Adam Smith and still does so today by being at the forefront of defining and strengthening European values.

“We cannot afford to lose that.”

This also didn’t make it onto BBC Scotland’s flagship news programme.  Contrast the refusal to report Verhofstadt’s comments with the relish with which comments of a contrary nature are covered.

Reporting Scotland is highly selective when it comes to news.  The selection process appears not to prioritise genuine news.  There’s more than a hint of a political agenda.

Indeed I’d argue that you could construct a far better and far more informative news programme consisting of news stories Reporting Scotland rejects.

 

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13 thoughts on “The stories Reporting Scotland doesn’t want to cover

  1. brobb

    how true – I still watch RS most nights but more for the laughs – how many reports putting down Scotland/Scottish Govt, who they pull in for interviews (we’re really missing Eleanor Bradford, she was always good for a boost to the doom and gloom count) and of course Jackie’s very serious face or brusque/exasperated tones when independence is mentioned (which of course they do a lot, unable to move past any mention despite what else NS or AS might have been saying/doing).

    Luckily we have alternative sources such as yourself, Wings and Derek B for the stories that don’t quite make it. One thing that really struck me last night was how often the BBC are now trying to make rather than report the news – last week NHS (England), this week prisons (again England) and mental health (Scotland). Poor Sarah Smith almost had to give a positive report on integrated health and social care in Scotland but saved herself by “balancing” her report with a negative example

    I think we could do with an online “News from where you are” based on the stories RS leaves out – the Rev Stu could do the in-depth investigations of pro-union incompetence, Derek B & Lesley R could present it and you and John R could produce it. I know which I’d watch!

    1. Philip Maughan

      ‘News from where you are’ great idea, though perhaps with a name change to ‘News where we are’ I’ll start trusting BBC Scotland when they start reporting good news stories about the Scottish Government and without the sting in the tails, such as that by Sarah Smith last night.

      1. Kevin

        “I’ll start trusting BBC Scotland when…”

        No. Never to be trusted. Not what they’re about. They care a two-penny damn whether or not they’re ‘trusted’, they exist in this part of the world to undermine Independence.

        Honestly, what does it take? Polls are ‘so-so’ and have been since way-back and an Independence Referendum is inevitable. This bent, anti-Scottish corporation is broadcasting straight into peoples’ homes all day long and we’re clearly doing a poor job of countering this.

        Apart from some truly great work from GAP here, and 4 or 5 others, we’re crossing fingers and hoping it’s going to be alright on the night. Jeez.
        With Spring around the corner, there’ll be plenty of opportunity for pro-indy types to organise ourselves into [visual, positive, inclusive, upbeat, creative] groups of volunteers that the BBC will detest. No, they won’t do a report on the happy, friendly occasion, of course not, but thousands will see it, it’ll be positive for our country.
        If we believe we’re capable then it’ll negate a % of the crap the BBC are horsing-into us each day.
        You know all that fantastic creativity that burst out of Scotland in the run-up to last IndyRef? It hasn’t gone away.

  2. Sandy

    Noticed the articles on the BBC website studiously avoided any mention of Labour in the reports on the RIAS and PFI. I was only looking out of morbid curiosity, sorry.

  3. stewartb

    And it goes on and on nightly! Tonight’s (15 Feb) Reporting Scotland’s piece on plans for increasing forest planting in Scotland failed to provide the opposing expert view that had been aired on Good Morning Scotland this morning. During the interview this morning a supporter of the plans criticised the extreme language used by the opponents. No balance on Reporting Scotland.

    Also tonight, the piece on the Motobility scheme was a carefully crafted bit of scaremongering: the implication was of a threat to the continuation of the scheme in Scotland. Reference to the recent problems faced by one recipient in Scotland of this benefit failed to make it clear this had been down to DWP, not the Scottish Government.

  4. Andy McKirdy

    Jackie Bird is a modern day Lord Haw Haw and the BBC are the enemies of Scotland!!!!
    They are on full Brit Nat propaganda mode and any defending of them in any Quarters must be called out loud and clear.
    As I’ve said before, Ruthie, the Dug and Wee Willie Winkie are completely irrelevant.
    We all know who the opposition and enemy are and so must the SG who must start doing the calling out that is being done by this site and the others like it.
    We are in a fight for our very survival, if we loose again it’s over, no one should be in any doubt about that.

  5. Nick

    To be homes’t the RIAS story has very little to do with PFI. OK so the buildings were part of the PFI scheme but the failing is with local councils which seems to be regardless of their political colour.

    Plus I don’t understand the view that PFI is, depending on your indy view, either the SNPs fault or Labours fault. OK the previous administration started it but the current one has been very happy to continue using it.

    1. George boyd

      The comments are flagging up that the previous labour govs are being airbrushed out of the story. I noticed the millions that was being made to train up to 300+new teachers was aired with the last sentence telling the viewers that at the start of the year, there was 500 teachers posts that were needing filled. Hidden message this money is not going to solve the teacher shortage problem. Always a caveat with mis-reporting Scotland.

  6. bringiton

    The BBC in Scotland aka the British Labour Broadcasting corporation is getting itself geared up into full propaganda mode for the impending cooncil elections.
    This is the last bastion of unionist power in Scotland and must be protected at all cost as far as the British state apparatus is concerned.
    Should,in particular,Glasgow fall out of unionist control,then the game will truly be up for them.
    However,there are none so blind….. and many will fall for the subliminal messages being sent out by the BBC and other unionist supporting organisations.
    Perhaps if we offered free drinks at the bar during the daily propaganda hour,we could enlighten more people.

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