At the Scottish Independence Convention on Saturday, former Sunday Herald editor Richard Walker argued that the Yes movement “need to adopt a new approach to journalists, particularly those we disagree with.”
Later in his speech he added: “But if we continue to berate them what we will do will be to alienate the vast majority of Scottish reporters and pretty much guarantee that the next independence referendum will be beset by the same media problems as the last one.”
It’s a novel idea. Be nice to journalists who were responsible for the shoddy coverage of indyref1 in the hope that they’ll unilaterally change their approach for indyref2. I’m going to have to think about that one. In the meantime …
Today I read an article by Tom Gordon of The Herald. The article ‘Journalist in SNP “gagging” row Stephen Daisley quits STV‘ was titled an exclusive. It’s The Herald’s most read article today.
The article centred around the decision of a little known journalist to quit his job and move into freelance. The headline, as you may have noticed, sought to imply the involvement of the SNP in Mr Daisley’s decision.
The article was a rehash of a story that was being punted last summer by a main stream media desperate to portray the SNP as an out of control dictatorship hell bent on silencing honest journalists.
One of the journalists who initially ran it was Tom Gordon.
If the media was to believed then two SNP MPs had complained to STV management about a journalist who had been critical of the party.
The broadcaster subsequently gagged the journalist. The journalist was Stephen Daisley.
The media narrative was twaddle. There was no such gagging order imposed by STV.
What we in fact had was a tale of someone who had posted one inappropriate message too many on social media and two MPs who had taken issue with what they perceived were inappropriate tweets from an editor.
The story faded and died … until Tom Gordon resurrected it.
The resurrected pot-boiler was every bit as reliable as the original reports.
Below is a selection of sentences from the 2017 version.
THE senior STV journalist who was allegedly “gagged” by the SNP has resigned.
A friend said that he had felt “unsupported” by the management at STV.
His departure follows two SNP MPs complaining to his employer about his work, which often mocked the SNP and other parties, and STV then halting his articles on its website.
The SNP MPs complained at an event held by STV managers at Westminster last spring.
Mr Wishart also criticised Mr Daisley on Twitter in June, asking whether his comments were his own view of “just the view of the ‘digital arm’ of the STV family?”
That prompted Harry Potter author JK Rowling to ask Mr Wishart: “Is trying to intimidate journalists you dislike @theSNP policy or just a vendetta of your own?”
The following month, Mr Nicolson posted a dozen late-night tweets questioning Mr Daisley’s ability and neutrality after he appeared to recommend an infamous Twitter account called Brian Spanner, which posted misogynist abuse of female politicians.
When the Herald reported Mr Daisley’s articles had stopped, other parties accused the SNP of “gagging” him and criticised STV for “buckling to Nationalist pressure”.
Mr Wishart and Mr Nicolson subsequently confirmed on Twitter they had complained to STV.
STV, which at the time of the controversy said its output had “evolved”, has previously been accused of being too close to the SNP.
Its Hogmanay show for 2015/16 featured Nicola Sturgeon, her sister and her mother as guests and was hosted by SNP supporter and independence campaigner Elaine C Smith.
It generated almost 100 complaints alleging political bias.
Writing in a newspaper yesterday about press regulation, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said Mr Wishart and Mr Nicolson “should be thoroughly ashamed of their attempts to silence those in the media who dare to question the SNP”.
You don’t have to be a genius to see what Tom Gordon is trying to imply. If innuendo and suggestion were evidence then Nicolson and Wishart would be guilty of having a journalist gagged and effectively sacked. STV would be in danger of losing its licence to broadcast by bowing to political pressure from a party it apparently supports.
The facts paint a rather duller picture of a journalist who perhaps enjoyed the cut-and-thrust of twitter too much. Who came to the attention of two politicians who responded in kind to his provocative social media ‘messages’ and who has now resigned his position and moved on.
If we were to play the same innuendo game with Tom Gordon we could point to the fact that during the independence referendum he used the image of Alex Salmond’s letter to Fred Goodwin on his twitter account.
He continued to defend the Memogate story even after the French themselves had denied the claims being levelled by The Telegraph newspaper at Nicola Sturgeon.
Gordon regularly published stories and press releases from the radical left faction RISE who were at the time running a campaign aimed at persuading SNP voters not to give their second vote to Nicola Sturgeon’s party.
This month Tom published a quite bizarre opinion piece that suggested the SNP was at sixes and sevens over its independence stance.
He is also fond of highlighting criticism of the SNP from the party’s former advisor Alex Bell.
Perhaps most damning of all is that Tom Gordon once stated that Anas Sarwar had been “blessed with his father’s charm.”
None of this proves that Tom Gordon has a grudge against the SNP or favours running articles that paint the party in a bad light.
But you can see how people might draw that conclusion when articles and tweets are presented in the fashion they have been.
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