Richard Walker’s presentation to the SIC Build Yes conference is a challenging argument that many readers may struggle with. His idea is that we as a movement need to change the way we are doing things – or face losing again.
Here’s an extract. You can read the full speech over at Commonspace here:
“We need to adopt a new approach to journalists, particularly those we disagree with. And I could stand here today and list a litany of their ‘sins’ and some of you would cheer and we would all feel self-righteous, but I’ve been asked to speak today on what we can do about the media when the starting whistle is blown on indyref 2.”
“So let’s stop berating journalists, whether in print, radio and television, for tough questioning of government ministers, or pro-independence spokespeople – that’s their job.”
“If the next independence campaign is all about changing No supporters to Yes then in media terms it’s about changing hostile, suspicious journalists into ones who want to give the case for independence a fair crack of the whip. If “holding power to account” sometimes means stupid stories about non-existent so-called scandals, that’s the price of being in power. It’s still a price worth paying.
Being pleasant and respectful won’t guarantee we’ll create an improved relationship and less attacking coverage, but remaining hostile will guarantee that we won’t.
I’m all too aware that I’m advocating incredible self restraint, an almost superhuman level of empathy and respect – and what for? Is mainstream media still important at all?
Let’s face it, anything that wins converts to the Yes argument is worth it. Mainstream media still matters, even in an age of pro-indy bloggers and websites and of social media. It matters because it’s a way of reaching those not already onside. It matters because it still, to a large degree, dictates the agenda on TV and radio. It’s a way of changing minds, and changing allegiances.”
Richard Walker is The National founding editor and former Sunday Herald editor.