we-are-citizen-journalism

One result of the independence campaign has been that power has been exposed. Which politicians and businesses share a common interest, how the media operates and how information is distorted and ideas abused as all been opened up.

What we propose is a media buycott. While a boycott withdraws money from specific companies or countries, a buycott redirects funds to specific companies or projects. A boycott is a negative, a buycott is a positive. We’d like to lay out what our role in a new media landscape looks like, and ask for your support to make it happen.

The importance of a more diverse open media has never been clearer. There is massive imbalance across print and broadcast output in Scotland.

Don’t believe us. Paul Mason, Newsnight’s former economics editor (now at Channel 4 News) has said of the state broadcaster: “Not since Iraq have I seen BBC News working at propaganda strength like this. So glad I’m out of there.” On Twitter, he also posted a link to a YouTube video claiming that the BBC had been “completely biased and unbalanced in their reporting of the referendum”, adding the comment: “Media students, journos, (coughs loudly) this is well worth watching.” It is also true however that “A political movement never flourishes by blaming its defeats on the media, or by deploring the motives or gullibility of the electorate”.

Blaming the media isn’t constructive, creating a better one is. So let’s do it.

We are committed to delivering fresh content that has a good gender balance and a commitment to new young writers at it’s very heart from the start. We are also committed to continuing to address difficult cultural and identity issues, as well as creating a space for voices that are not often heard in the traditional media.

Here’s a simple outline of the development plan for Bella Caledonia. If you like the direction we’re going, we are asking for donations to support our work.

Our plan has six strands:

1. Strengthening the Editorial Team. We want to maintain a full-time editor post, to manage and oversee the whole project and to produce the site. We want also to create six editorial posts in the following areas: international, community, arts, innovation, social justice and ecology. Why these?

We have been through a period of intense introspection and we need to re-assert an internationalist outlook at the centre of our media world. Community action for change and a grassroots approach has been at the heart of the Yes movement, and we need an editor to keep focused on that. Arts and creativity has played a vital role in the indyref and we need (much) more of it on Bella. If we’re really about change then we need someone looking at Innovation in Scotland (and anywhere). What works? If we are into change we need to know what’s changing and who’s driving it. Social (in) justice has been the driving force of the whole movement. It will remain so. We need someone to give special focus commissioning and writing on inequality. Finally, ecology: this is the biggest challenge we face as a species. We want to combine ‘big picture’ with local grounded reality.

These will be posts paid a small monthly fee and we will advertise details of the open application process soon.

2. Video News Coverage. We want to create five news video journalist reporting on the parliament, the movement and from their own communities. These would be video journalists researching and producing stories for the site broadcast on our own vimeo channel.

3. Citizens Journalism Training . We want to create an informed active citizenry by rolling out a series of training events around the country teaching people how to: shoot and edit video, write an article, use Twitter and Facebook effectively, public speaking, photo editing, blogging and other skills. This is based on the need to shift away from creating new monolithic media structures and instead creating a general empowerment. This is not simply about the blogging community, nor an extension of the media, but ‘networked individuals’ enabled by the internet in ways that can hold power accountable. Some people call this movement ‘the Fifth Estate’.

4. Closer. Each quarter we want to publish our magazine, ‘Closer’, which will allow us to focus on a different theme each issue and let writers write longer pieces than they can online. This allows us to commission more reflective analysis and not always be responding to day-to-day events. It also allows people to share printed hard-copy with readers who are not online.

5. Volunteers. Bella has been volunteer-run for all of its existence (since 2007). There are key jobs we need help with and are open to offers. We’ll be hosting a writers and volunteers event and asking anyone to come and step forward. Creating more resilient structures isn’t about moving to solely paid roles and we know that some people have time, but not money, to give.

6. Collaboration. This is only one part of the bigger picture. We’ll be taking part in a special Yesmedia conference in the coming month that will explore what other groups are doing and look at maximising collaboration and co-operation. It may be that other projects can be hosted with Bella or that joint working can maximise the impact of these initiatives. We are open to other people ideas on radio, print or web media projects.

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We remain committed to the web. We will have streams or channels on Vimeo, Scribd, Kiltr and other platforms. We will also be creating revenue streams through transforming our advertising and marketing programmes.

There will be some housekeeping too. We’ll be upgrading the website, introducing better proofing systems, shifting over to Airdrie Savings Bank, launching our dot.Scot domain.

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donate2What can you do to help? You can make a small monthly donation of £5 or £10 a month by direct debit, or more as you like.
You can make a one-off donation £10 or £50 or £100, £500 or £1000. Give us what you can. No amount too small (or big!)
The question remains: do you want Scotland to be an independent country? Our answer remains: Yes. The other question is do you want Scotland to have an independent media?