As we are rattling the can and trying to gain support for Bella to go forward, I thought it would be good to try and map out both some of the thinking behind the project and where we want to go, how it relates to the wider aims and strategies of the movement.
We’ve recently been accused of ‘writing about issues other than Scottish independence’. This is a vile charge against which we plead guilty guilty guilty ma’lud! We need to expand debate not close it down and if its a badge of merit to have such a narrow world view as to only write about independence that’s a badge we’ll happily miss out on. We need to place Scotland in the world – locate ourselves and relate our struggle to the bigger movements of power. So geopolitics, immigration, defence, Europe climate change are all relevant to understanding (and transforming) our place in the world. If anything we’ve been too obsessed by Willie Rennie’s antics or Tank Girl’s photo op.
We need to have the confidence to be self-critical as a movement. That means being able to say ‘what did we do wrong before and what will we do differently next time?’ and not just clinging on to the same old truths and messages from before. This isn’t about blame it’s about honesty and taking responsibility and stepping away from constantly blaming other organisations and institutions (the BBC, the Tory Party, JK Rowling etc etc etc). Regurgitating failed arguments won’t progress anything anywhere.
A Real Alternative Media
The need for an alternative media that is alternative in a much deeper sense than just ‘not unionist’. How its owned, what its values are, who gets a say and how work is commissioned are all key questions that could help define a genuine radical Scottish new media.
Building these structures and developing these ideas will be key in the years ahead if we are to progress. We’ve done it for ten years without adds and we need your support to develop.
We need to be able to escape the framing and storytelling that the corporate news schedule creates. The new media is routinely underfunded and draws its stories from traditional news outlets. The problem with this is that we then replicate the values and ways of looking at the world from those institutions. The challenge for the alternative media is to tell different stories in new ways and create spaces for new voices and direct testimony. That’s what we intend to do.
Too many of the existing new media exist just for speaking to their own people. This results in circular self-confirming articles and comments: ‘Great post – I agree!’ The challenge is to reach and engage with new audiences who don’t agree with you. The political challenge is to take a 45% for Yes to a 60%. That won’t happen with closed minds and echo chambers. It will happen with fresh thinking, critical thinking and open forums about how to go forward.
What’s at stake?
It’s difficult to get people to support something they’ve always had for free. The reality is that if Bella doesn’t get significant new support in the next few days then we may have to close, or at least substantially reorganise how we operate. We could lose our full-time editor, our Gaelic and Scots content, our plans to create a training programme to bring more women writers into new media, our plans for new platforms of content in film and soundcloud, and our publishing hundreds of freelance writers.