2007 - 2022

A Public Press: Reclaiming the Media

typewriter_1_mdWith Edward Snowden in exile, and Andy Coulson in Belmarsh and in the heat of the referendum debate it seems an ideal time to look again at the problems of freedom of expression, privacy and media control. In an extraordinary year that has exposed the industrial scale of media abuses there has also been a new energy, a resistance and an outbreak of creative responses.
In the wake of the Leveson Inquiry, and in the midst of a democratic revival in Scotland, how broken and corrupted is the press, and how viable are its alternatives? How do we prevent public relations (PR) industry and corporate and government propaganda from distorting public debate and undermining democracy? How do we fight back against the tabloidisation of our everyday life, a process that affects women most but undermines us all? How do we create a public press?


A PUBLIC PRESS: reclaiming the media is a public seminar on problems and solutions in the media, organised by Bella Caledonia and Scottish PEN. Wednesday 20th August 1.00 pm – 6.30 pm at the Saltire Society, Fountain Close, 22 High Street, Edinburgh

Power and Print. Misrepresenting Women in the Media , Onslaught and Fightback     1.00-2.30 After seemingly new waves of misogyny and misrepresentation the last few years has also seen the emergence of new responses and a fightback against these forces, from Everyday Sexism, No More Page 3, Keep Women on Banknotes and many more. With Margie Orford (President of PEN South Africa, Patron of Rape Crisis & the Little Hands Trust) and Caroline Criado Perez (freelance journalist, broadcaster, feminist campaigner and Co-founder of The Women’s Room)

Democracy and the Press in Scotland     3.00-4.30 The independence referendum campaign has been dominated by issues of social media v the old press and controversy over the role of the BBC and new media forms. Exploring these issues of impartiality and freedom in the media are Iain Macwhirter (columnist), Joan McAlpine MSP and Derek Bateman (broadcaster).

New Democracy New Media? 5.00-6.30 As faith in the state broadcaster has crumbled and the print media faces a seeming inexorable decline, what new media forms have emerged and what long term resilience do they have? With Mike Small (Bella Caledonia), Lesley Riddoch (author, broadcaster, podcaster) Peter Geoghegan, freelance journalist Robin McAlpine (Commonweal)

Book your tickets from Eventbrite here – you need to book for each session separately. They are available at Low waged/Unwaged £0.00 or Full Price £5.00


Background on the speakers:
Caroline Criado-Perez is a freelance journalist, broadcaster and feminist campaigner. Co-founder of The Women’s Room, an organisation that campaigns for more women experts in the media, she also started and ran the high-profile Keep Women on Banknotes campaign. See more here at her website here. 
Margie Orford
 is a South African journalist, film director and author of crime fiction, children’s fiction, non-fiction and school text books. Read a feature about her incredible life here. 
Lesley Riddoch
 is one of Scotland’s best known authors, broadcasters and columnists, she has just completed an epic book tour to promote ‘Blossom; what Scotland needs to flourish’. You can listen to her podcast here. 
Iain Macwhirter
 is the political commentator for the Herald and the Sunday Herald, an author and documentary film and radio presenter and former Rector of Edinburgh University. He is the author of ‘Democracy in the Dark: the Decline of the Scottish Press and How to Keep the Lights On’ (Saltire Series No. 5). 
Joan McAlpine
 is a journalist and Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for the South of Scotland. She is a former Journalist of the Year in the Scottish Press Awards and won a number of commendations for her personal blog, Go Lassie Go. 
Derek Bateman
 is an ex BBC Scotland radio presenter who now runs his own blog and online radio show. Read this blog here and listen to his online radio show here. 
Robin McAlpine
 of Jimmy Reid Foundation, and author of ‘Commonweal’ a left blueprint for the new Scotland. 
Peter Geoghegan 
is a freelance journalist exploring new alternatives with a new project called Scottish Inquirer. More here.

Comments (13)

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  1. Thistle says:

    Would love to have attended this, but time bad for me. Maybe do something similar in Glasgow? [email protected] http://www.independencelive.net

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Hi Thistle, we’d love to do something in Glasgow, but our resources are limited. The next big event we’re doing in Glasgow is Songs for Scotland at Oran Mor on 3 September. Get in touch?

      1. Hi Thistle,

        Would love to talk to you about staging something along similar lines in Glasgow. Can’t speak for Bella but if they’re up for it I’m sure we could sort out something.

        Not sure if you can contact me via my personal e-mail on this site (which I’m not going to give out publicly) but you can get in touch via [email protected].

        Best wishes

        Drew Campbell
        President, Scottish PEN

  2. Stuart Muir says:

    You mention the Leveson Inquiry in your comment, what has happened to the Leveson report? Stored next to the McCrone report I guess!

  3. John Page says:

    Will be there…..well worth the trip from Arran

  4. Squirrel Towers says:

    We should demand that in Scotland our government and all public bodies, should operate an open data policy, all documents, decisions, meeting minutes etc etc should be automatically in the public domain and only in a few exceptional cases some data can be retained as confidential. I suspect it would increase trust between politicians and people and get rid of the need for FOI etc.

  5. Ian Garvie says:

    See you there, this has got both myself and my wife all fired up 🙂

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Great, we’re delighted to have such a strong line-up

  6. gallais says:

    I’m quite tempted to attend. In the meantime, food for thoughts:


    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Hey thanks for the links, really interesting to hear a French perspective. Hope to see you on the 20th.

  7. bjsalba says:

    Freedom of the press is is all well and good, but when you have a press that is incapable of doing anything remotely resembling journalism that is another thing entirely. When they happily publish flat out lies without ever bothering to do any fact checking whatsoever. They deserve no special treatment.

    Bitter experience is why I do not buy newspapers and consult a large selection of websites. I judge a website on its past record of truth telling, and its current performance. I want respected resources (not tame government agencies and offshoots). So if any big business thinks it can buy up a site and start spreading lies I am likely to find out and judge accordingly.

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