On to a New Media

newssourceThe media in Scotland remains a travesty of poor quality, underfunded, grossly biased and deeply conservative broadcasting and print media. There’s not a newspaper in Scotland that is pro-independence. Our radio oscillates between the crassly (and vacuous) commercial and the often atrocious BBC Radio Scotland.

Some of this is institutional (unquestioning editorial continuity) some of it is cultural (low expectations / poor self-image) and some of it is personal (senior political editors with specific backgrounds or agendas). But much of it is embedded in chronic underfunding. As Newsnet recently reported:

“In 2002-03 BBC Scotland received a paltry 3.7% of the total licence fee raised throughout the UK – this despite Scotland having 8.6% of the UK’s population. Today, the BBC raises £325million of its £3,500million revenue from Scottish licence fee payers, but spends only £102million on programming in Scotland.”

In 2012 the newspaper industry continued it’s decline. The Scotsman dropped another 13.7 % now averaging just 33,000 sales, the Herald now average 44,283 while for the Sunday Herald it was 26,074. It’s a death spiral.

There are other options. The growing alternative media of citizen journalism is blooming and the gap between even small independent blogs like this and some newspapers is narrowing (we’ve even overtaken some). But newspapers still have huge resources at their disposal.

It’s difficult to compete, but we are announcing some changes in 2013. We’re excited by the new developments and we hope you will be too.  We’ll be expanding our editorial team, launching a new platform on KILTR, co-hosting live events and publishing a series of essays in print and PDF format in the summer. We’ll also be launching a Bella poster and t-shirt in February.

All of which requires some resources we don’t have. So we are asking you if you want to support Bella’s work to donate to us so we can deliver and expand.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE.  

Any amount is welcome. A ‘Wendy Wood’ is as welcome as an ‘Angus Ogg’. Send us your donations and let us know if you want your donation acknowledged.

Wendy Wood – £20.00
Andrew Fletcher – £50.00
Margo MacDonald – £75.00
Angus Ogg – £100.00
Calgacus – £500.00



Categories: Arts & Culture, Media

10 replies

  1. Sorry, I can only afford to be a Wendy Wood at the moment!

    Traditional newspapers are rooted in a business model which depends on re-affirming their readers’ interests, views and (yes) prejudices. This is only to be expected. In several respects, online publications such as Bella Caledonia, Scottish Review and Newsnet Scotland are no different; they simply take a different ideological position on the issues. I may not agree with that position, but I’m certainly glad they’re there to do so!

    If we believe the polls, only a minority of Scots favour independence; nevertheless, given the actual numbers involved, it IS bizarre that no existing newspaper publisher has decided to go with that strand of opinion. Not even the Scottish Sun, at the moment, despite its earlier dalliance with the SNP.

    When it comes to Scotland’s “indigenous” newspapers, though, the lack of enthusiasm for independence is hardly surprising. You just have to follow the money to understand why.

    The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday: owned by Johnston Press, which (a) operates across the UK, and (b) is roughly 20% owned by Jersey-based PanOcean Management Ltd on behalf of the Malaysian-based investment firm Usaha Tegas.

    The Herald and Sunday Herald: publisher Herald & Times Group is owned by Newsquest which (a) operates across the UK, and (b) is, in turn, owned by US-based Gannett.

    At least Aberdeen’s Press and Journal and the Dundee Courier (yes, even the latter now sells more than either the Scotsman or The Herald) are Scottish-owned, though D C Thomson is a somewhat “conservative” business at the best of times, and again operates across the UK. It even owns the publisher of This England magazine.

    Although the Scottish Sun claims to have a strong Scottish editorial team, it is nevertheless part of News International; the Daily Record is published by Media Scotland, part of the Trinity Mirror group; and Metro is published by Associated Newspapers, part of Daily Mail & General Trust.

    In short, all of Scotland’s newspapers fundamentally operate within a UK context, so are unlikely to want to break that up.

    • Thanks Paul – ‘Wendy’s welcome!’

      Good point about P&J and Courier, often overlooked. I suppose because the Scotsman and Herald still aspire or at least present as aspiring to being ‘national’ newspapers.

      Thanks to all who have sent in a donation already.

  2. Happy to be a Wendy :-0 The main Scottish print titles and broadcast media are utterly transparent in their bias and contemptuous of huge swathes of their audience. So more power to your elbow. Go get ‘em.

  3. It’s not clear to me why a wealthy or otherwise well financed entrepreneur would not look to buy an existing title (The Scotsman?), lose the financial millstone that is the current “journalist” and editorial staff, replace them with real talent, close down the print operation, and produce a exclusively digital daily à la Newsweek (which scrapped its print magazine just this past New Year’s eve after 80 years of continuous publication).

    What viable business model is there left for a print-based broadsheet? I don’t know, nor apparently do the editors or publishers of the Scotsman or the Herald, for they have systematically run those once august journals of record into the ground.

    The success of a plethora of internet journals like Bella evinces an unmet need – indeed a craving – for a Nationalist leaning voice in the mainstream media. Such a newspaper would have a ready made and sizable constituency of patrons, and what title could be more apt or better bought to serve and articulate Scottish interests and aspirations than the Scotsman?

    This journal and newspaper of nigh on 200 years standing represents continuity, and there is a very real sense in which the title belongs, not to its current publisher, but to the nation whose interests it once served.

    Wiki indicates that though its print version is on a trajectory to oblivion, the online version boasts no less than half a million readers. All it would take would be would be a pro-indy buyer with the smarts to know how to optimally monetize a lean (rationalized) operation.

    Perhaps they might ask Tina Brown for a few pointers . .

  4. Just became a Wendy, hope it helps as Scotland needs all the help it can get, so we rely on blogs like yours, as there is NO unbiased media in Scotland.

  5. I dont expect media to be pro independance or anti independence I expect them to be ballanced, Challange is not bias.

  6. I would be happy to help Bella financially but (as with my support for other online publications) I prefer to make a monthly payment rather than a one-off contribution. Is this possible?

    Donald Bain

  7. Can i send you some money from abroad? I would like to do it by bank transfer in which case I need your bank account BIC and your IBAN numbers.

  8. The Scottish media right now is “regional”. It’s never got its head around devolution fully, and the news consists of reading out other people’s press releases, hanging outside law courts for the latest stabbings, and “dead donkey” (and finally) items.

    For what it’s worth. The regional news in many parts of England is even worse, which is saying something. Welsh television is better, but its newspapers are much worse.

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