Statement from the Bella Caledonia Board

The Advisory Board of Bella Caledonia confirms we are going to have to make the decision to close, unless an urgent fundraising appeal can be met. Mike Small has advised that despite his commitment to Bella, he will have to step down as editor as the position is too financially precarious and he is actively seeking other work. The Board is looking at other funding models and is appealing for urgent help to finance the magazine in a more permanent way in a year when a second independence referendum is very likely to be called. Regardless of the outcome the Board and contributors of Bella would like to thank Mike for his years of work – mostly unpaid but always cheerful, professional, imaginative and dedicated. Mike and our diverse range of writers have made Bella a successful online magazine and we hope that legacy can continue in some form. We thank you for your support and patience in this time as we decide how to continue. The Bella Oidhche Challain cèilidh will still take place this Thursday in the Glad Cafe at 19:30.

If you wish to support Bella to continue go here.



Comments (95)

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  1. Martin Meteyard says:

    OK, so tell us what it would take.

  2. ZeZe says:

    I want to see pro-indy sources continue so set a target and let us all know your plans.

  3. Olivia Smith says:

    I hope you do find the funding you need but I also hope that the independence movement takes lessons from this. You cannot run a business (or a country) on good intentions and unpaid labour alone.

    1. c rober says:

      unless its slavery

  4. Iain says:

    Agree with Martin. What will it take to keep Bella going.

  5. Edwin Moore says:

    I was sorry to hear it. As a yoon, I am not exactly BC’s target market but always looked as Mike had a knack for featuring interesting voices.

    1. Thomas says:

      I’m also a ‘yoon’ (hate that term) but enjoyed reading Bella.

      Can’t say I always agreed with them but will be sorry to see it go.

  6. Alasdair MacLennan says:

    Best wishes to all associated with Bella!

  7. Deik Fraser says:

    A kick up the arse if ever one was needed. Surely a fundraiser required?

  8. Dean Robertson says:

    Yo, fuckos put a link to v

  9. Stellafella says:

    I’ve never donated but would donate now. Would contribute and pass the word on.

  10. uhuh says:

    Outrageous that the task of running Bella fell on Mikes shoulders whilst the other founder sunned himself in Bali funded by the British Council only occasionally rousing himself from the sun lounger to tweet that we should all shun Wings Over Scotland.

  11. Fay Kennedy. says:

    So sorry to hear this. Even though am far from Scotland and the current politics BellaCaledonia has been a source of inspiration for the few years I have been fortunate enough to read its great articles. What a loss to all the readers. I send all my best wishes to the editorial team and particularly Mike Small.

  12. Dave oh what says:

    I shall wait to hear what you decide is gonna be best for sustainable income.

  13. Graeme Purves says:

    All the very best with finding a way forward!

  14. SP Macaulay says:

    Really disappointed to hear this. As has been asked. What is the magic number?

  15. Nick Kempe says:

    I don’t know how much money is needed but there are over 7000 subscribers to Bella. Not everyone will pay of course but how about an appeal based on following pledges to see what people prepared to give? For example if:

    2000 pledge £5 = £10k
    2000 pledge £10 = £20k
    400 pledge £20 = £8k
    100 pledge £50 = 5k (which is just £1 a week for the best off)

    Total £43k

  16. George Paterson says:

    I’d definitely be up for an annual subscription or one off payment. BC’s voice and independent editorial is a much needed one in Scottish media and as such is far too important to be wound up.

  17. Annika says:

    Please don’t shut down. As a political scientist, I found the articles on Bella so well researched and on point at times that it really gave me hope that this generation still cares, still has the power to change something. I remember being frustrated, hopeful, worried or inspired by your articles and even more than ever, I feel like blogs like Bella have become somewhat of a bulwark against everything that has gone wrong in politics and society in general: Ideals, ideas, courage, integrity and immunity to corruption. In a world where everyone can post their opinions on Facebook, we still lack alternatives in politics more than ever, but Bella managed to provide a platform for some. And I can tell you that you’d be missed dearly and should not shut down because of financial reasons. I’m sure readers can find a way and I’d be glad to help.

  18. Willie says:

    What a about a diversion of some of the BBC license fee.

    1. c rober says:

      Oh the irony , for the majority of the income to end up subsidzing English political discussion , sorry had to do it Willie…. before we cant anymore.

  19. Julia Gibb says:

    Bella committed suicide. It moved from reflecting the views of the wider independence movement to trying to influence the politics of the campaign.

    The broad church was ignored and the narrow personal views of the few were promoted.

    Over the last 18 months it has gone from a “must read” to a site seldom visited.

    The editorial team destroyed a fine site by promoting their personal views and ignoring the majority within the Independence movement.

    Bella was taken over by a clique who went on to push away the rest of us. That is why it has declined recently to the point of closure.

    1. c rober says:

      Thats why I value criticism , where was the discussion then about such things – I never noticed any , and where I perhaps unconciously did then I offered criticism , mind you when I had done the same in WOS about policing the SNP , and highlighting where it too was failing in connecting and driving agendas over its electorate – posts were deleted. On bella I had one deleted , and because of profanity – not the content which was allowed later , sans merchant banker and rubber duck.

    2. Clive Scott says:

      Agree with you Julia. Far too many idiotic pro Yes articles couched in anti SNP terms. The little fractious factions of the left need to get over themselves, grow up, and get behind the only party that will deliver an independent Scotland.

      1. Lynsey says:

        Attitudes like this one are precisely why Bella has to survive.

    3. Colin Mackay says:

      Nonsense. One huge positive about Bella is that it represents the diverse yes campaign and way beyond. Not easy to achieve and has allowed voices to flourish without the need to constantly look over the shoulder and feel that you have to stay confined to a party political echo chamber. This allows and encourages the fantastic, creative ideas it has and evidently still does judging by some of the recent articles. It’s not a cheerleader blog, get over it.

      1. Julia Gibb says:

        Let’s test that

        “Very few people are buying our product, but the few that do like it”

        “We think our pub is great despite having no customers”

        “The project is failing so we should put more money in”

        If a once very successful project is now in decline why not ask the reason instead of burying your head in the sand.

        I regret the loss of the old Bella. The bias of the current version is on display every day. A broad reach blog has become narrow thinking. Readership hits is a measurable fact telling you that you have got it wrong.

        1. Hi Julia, curious to know what the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Bella is. The project has been edited and run by exactly the same people for a decade with precisely the same mission, aims and political outlook. Nothing has changed.

          Our readership is up as is our social media presence. Sorry to disappoint you. We, like other online platforms need support to survive. If you don’t like it don’t read it. Not sure why you need to come here and vent your spleen though?

          1. ZeZe says:

            Not a nice reply – ask for more information. Sometimes the people who are angriest are potentially your greatest supporters – if you keep the lines of communication open.

          2. Andy Ellis says:

            There can be no clearer indication of why Bella has been abandoned by many former supporters and readers than your response. If nothing has changed, why are significant numbers of people taking the trouble to mourn the passing of the site for what it once was, and why does it lack the support to continue?

            From the heady days of the indyref Big Tent to the usual suspect curtly telling disillusioned former readers and supporters that they don’t HAVE to read the content and aren’t really welcome to give their (entirely reasonable) personal opinion about why Bella might be in the state it is. None of us object to a range of views being aired and discussed, but if you can’t see the contradiction between that and your petulant response to Julia, there’s really no help for you.

          3. Hi Andy, please enlighten me about the changes that have happened at Bella?

    4. Alan says:

      I’ve supported Bella every year since I started reading articles on the site. There has been some really great stuff published here. That said, as a reader my perception, which I have expressed previously, is that the quality has become more variable and the site has increasingly appeared to be a platform for RISE rather than a broad platform for a range of political and cultural perspectives and debate. Being perceived as a vehicle for a small and narrow political perspective, rightly or wrongly, is not conducive to broad financial support.

  20. Eleanor Ferguson says:

    I’ll be sorry to see it going. It will be a big loss especially this year. The articles have always been interesting. My favourite poem was the Ciabatta which I sent to quite a few friends. I would be happy to contribute to keep it going.

  21. Mark Anderson Smith says:

    No funding campaign should ask for money without telling people how much they’ve raised to date.

    How much has been raised?

    What is the shortfall?

    If you don’t tell us this we have no idea whether you are desperately in need, whether our contribution would make a difference or whether you’ve already got the money…

  22. Geoff Bush says:

    I agree with many of the other folks, we need to know how much you need, what that amount enables you to do and for how long, and do a proper fundraiser rather than ask for donations at a point where anyone inclined to donate might question whether or not it is worth doing at this stage.
    Please do this quickly.

  23. Julian Smith says:

    Donors and subscribers, current and potential, need to know on a regular basis, what the financial position is. Otherwise they will tend to think, as I did, that everything is ok. Despite some of the comments above, I’m sure there is a tremendous amount of goodwill towards Bella and I hope this will be a wake up call.

  24. Jac Gallacher says:

    7 thousand on this site and 13 thousand members in the facebook group. If many set up a £1 a month regular donation that would make a huge difference. And if it doesn’t work out then your set up can easily be cancelled. See the donations page on the site the options are all there when you hit the donation button. Small monthly payment can be done by PayPal. For those who don’t want to wait.

  25. Rhona Donaldson says:

    The subscription model used by The Ferret seems to work.

  26. Michael McCartney says:

    Hope this site survives, I have set up a small direct debit this is not the time to let pro independence sites disappear.AS an ex labour party member and retired trade union activist I saw what harm factionalism did to the broad labour movement,please don’t let this happen to the broad yes movement.It must be independence first then we can all support our own political choices

  27. Clootie says:

    Why should I give financial support to a site which now tries to undermine the main Party of Scotland.
    The various articles on this site misrepresenting the Scottish voting system during the Holyrood election were the last straw for me.
    Bella once promoted a nation moving forward. They now wish to determine the politics of that nation.

    1. c rober says:

      Theres a big difference between undermining and highlighting , criticism when founded leads to change , are we supposed to head towards indy with blindfolds and blinkers , if so then we risk replacing our masters – but not the hymn sheet.

      BC called SNP bad as bullshit through its contributions and replies , when it was exactly that. Just as the right honorable does in the flying club – but at least BC left a door open to criticism , of the sort that may well have addressed the 6 percent needed from round 1 instead of creating more of them.

      1. Clootie says:

        Thank you for proving my point

        1. Angus F says:

          come on, some critical articles and some supportive, what sort of electronic media do you want, there are lots of questions that require airing and BC has been a useful platform to date among just a few other notable sites…..give it a break, most people reading it will be relatively informed and making their own minds up about the strengths and weaknesses of arguments brought forward….if it has been a bit off the boil at times over the last few months it because the whole debate has been a bit stagnant, I have no doubt that if things heated up again BC would soon be at the think of the debate again.

    2. Jo says:

      @ Clootie

      As I recall there was widespread discussion about the Holyrood voting system at the time right across the Scottish media. There was disagreement on the benefits of using the first and second votes for the same Party and the impact of that on the number of list seats that Party would gain. The subject wasn’t just discussed on Bella: individuals were disagreeing too. I think you’re being ridiculous in having a go about that.

  28. Ken Bell says:

    Bella Caledonia was fine as a broadly based pro-independence site, but after the 2014 referendum it became a fairly irritating place that I stopped visiting. When you decided to pick a fight with me in June 2016 over Brexit, that was when I lost interest in you. I predicted then that the site would close and up popped Mike Small with the following bit of wishful thinking: “I’m sorry to disappoint you Ken but we’ll be around for a very long time.”

    For the record, seven months is not a very long time. Good luck finding a job, Mike.

    1. Always good to celebrate someone being made redundant Ken. Thanks for that.

      If the site closes, and that is not yet certain, then not only will I lose my job but so too will income for dozens of freelance writers and contributors.

    2. ZeZe says:

      Yes, you seem the sort of creature that would delight in another’s misfortune.

    3. John O'Dowd says:

      Why is this about you, Ken Bell? Bella is too important to be undermined and denigrated by egotists. There is little enough plurality in Scotland’s media output, without us losing this very important site.

    4. John O'Dowd says:

      Why is this about you, Ken Bell? Bella is too important to be undermined and denigrated by egotists. There is little enough plurality in Scotland’s media output, without us losing this very important site. The only people gloating about this are the Britnats – ‘left’ and right

  29. David McCann says:

    It will be a tragedy if Bella has to close, and I say that as someone who has not always agreed with every contribution, and also as a lifetime member of the SNP.
    The contributions are always thought provoking, well written and have added hugely to the wider pro independence movement.
    Perhaps your mistake has been not to come to us for funding more often.
    My small contribution is on its way

  30. Andy Ellis says:

    @ Bella Caledonia Editor

    “Hi Andy, please enlighten me about the changes that have happened at Bella?”

    What would be the point? You haven’t even tried to address the points made with respects to Julia Gibb’s original post, or explain your snarky response. We’ve been round this buoy before, and it ended in you blocking me on twitter. Way to engage, huh Mike?

    If you can’t see why so many people have “voted with their feet” at this point though and still honestly believe that everything is for the best in the best of all possible words, do carry on. Or not. For what it’s worth, however much you and some of leading lights of the People’s Front get my back up, I hate to see any pro-indy resource silenced; when it comes to putting my hand in my pocket to make it so though, I understand from Douglas Fraser at the BBC other “less deserving” pro-indy sites are available?

    Go well. May your future ventures prosper.

  31. The point would be to back up your assertion that Bella has changed its political outlook.

    It hasn’t and you can’t.

    We’ve been consistent and open about our outlook for a decade. The End.

    1. Alan says:

      There’s quite a few people commenting here and elsewhere who are in agreement with Julia’s observation that Bella “…moved from reflecting the views of the wider independence movement to trying to influence the politics of the campaign. The broad church was ignored and the narrow personal views of the few were promoted.” One can argue about the reality but that’s the perception of more than a few regular readers and supporters.

  32. Jenny Tizard says:

    So sorry to read this. Bella has been such a source of clear thinking informed and often provocative debate. A tragedy.

    Good luck to Mike, all the best with what’s next.

  33. douglas clark says:

    I have set up £5 a month to support Mike. Frankly this has been an open forum and all the better for it. It comes down to this. I pay for content from BT and Sky. Which I watch less often than I read commentary here. So a fiver a month is cheap, but all I can realistically afford.

    You, dear reader, could you afford that too?

  34. douglas clark says:

    Bella Caledonia Editor,

    What response have you had? Financially speaking?

    1. We’ve had a steady flow of people signing up to GoCardless all day Douglas. We have a board meeting tomorrow to try and decide on a way forward and hope to make an announcement immediately after that.

      1. douglas clark says:

        Look forward to reading that.

  35. douglas clark says:

    I quite like the alternative voice that Bella allows. It ought to be worth a fiver a month to anyone reading this. Go on, set up a standing order and you know you will never notice it!

  36. John Hutchison says:

    I have donated monthly for two years. It would be useful to know the amount of committed monthly income you receive and therefore what additional sum would be needed for sustainability. This would let folk gauge what might be achievable and go some way to a solution.

    Apologies if you have given this already; I can’t find it readily in the comments above .

    1. douglas clark says:

      I’d quite like transparency too.

  37. sid says:

    Plese keep this web site live. We need freedom of speech.

  38. Mike Lands says:

    As someone who’s pro-remain, I’m glad to see the strange bedfellows of the yes campaign are starting to go their separate ways, however I’m somewhat sorry that it’s the one reasonablish blog closing first.

    The fact that the deranged misanthrope in Bath will be the only prominent nat presence online isn’t good news for anyone who values positive civic discourse.

    1. ZeZe says:

      Your comment contributes nothing to the discussion and if you think Wings is the only prominent commentator then your blinkers are as restrictive as your thinking.

  39. david kelly says:

    Craig Murray’s offer is an excellent idea…….

  40. brewsed says:

    It would be a loss to the Scottish independence movement if Bella was to close. A loss of thought provoking articles, a loss of opportunity for the authors and the loss of a repository (The View from Nowhere for example).

    However, and there is a however, at times the editorial slant seemed, to me, to get distracted by the finer points of various strands of left of centre politics, the reality being that there is absolutely no chance of implementing these finer points without, first and foremost, Scotland being an independent nation.

    So, please don’t go. Stay and promote Scottish Independence. Promote a fairer society, greater democracy, local accountability, land reform, ecological accountability etc., but don’t forget that some of these aspirations may only be achievable after Scotland becomes an independent nation.

  41. Bernard Thompson says:

    I’m astonished by some of the comments here.

    Every publication has its ups and downs but some people seem to believe that all comment from a pro-independence perspective should be an extension of the comms office of the SNP.

    At a time when trust in and the quality of the mainstream media are at an all-time low, some people are actually crowing about the potential demise of what has been an enormously valuable site.

    So, if Bella goes, those same people can go back to going apoplectic at the BBC. But it will prove more resilient to the brickbats and there will be one less alternative voice out there.

    Maybe these people take their media for granted. Anyone who has ever worked in the media understands the challenge of consistently putting out a quality product.

    No one expects every reader to enjoy or approve of every part.

    There also seems, in some, a lack of appreciation of the sheer scale of achievement that Bella represents.

    Plenty of people start out with ideas but few turn them into something concrete that can be sustained and grown for 10 years. It is quite remarkable.

    And, frankly, if the editor feels moved at such an emotional time to send some of the more churlish critics off with a flea in their ear, it’s understandable.

    This is by no means the only media outlet in need of a new model. I have a hunch that Bella will be around for a while yet.

    If not, feel free to blog your told-you-sos, should that comfort you.

    1. Alan says:

      “…some people seem to believe that all comment from a pro-independence perspective should be an extension of the comms office of the SNP.”

      There may be some like that but there are also others who perceived Bella moving from a platform for a broad variety of pro-indy perspectives to becoming the comms office of RISE. Bella should encompass much more than either RISE or the SNP.

      1. Bernard Thompson says:

        I have seen those criticisms. I think the RISE project, however well-intentioned, has been a major let-down.

        I haven’t followed all of that. I thought at the time that being seen to be to close to RISE was a mistake but equally it was a mistake to think that every pro-indy outlet owed fealty to the SNP.

        I suspect that some readers still blame Bella for the loss of the SNP’s majority and have never forgiven the editor for that, however inaccurate that criticism may be.

  42. Frank says:

    I hope Bella finds a way of surviving. Too be honest my week wasn’t complete without making sure I was up to date with Bella. As an academic I valued it’s intellectual content and the quality of most of the writing. It was also far superior in my opinion to similar sites which flourished after the referendum such as the overrated Common Space or Wings Over Scotland.

    I hope the editorial board finds a solution. Bella is needed!

  43. David anderson says:

    Contributions should accompany true financial transparency, I don’t feel that has been provided. What is needed to be Editor? Can it be done by more than one person? Volunteers seem to be springing up so will these be explored seriously or is there an ownership issue. Better to free the reigns than close in my opinion. Also, is the going rate for contributions something that can be lowered?

    I hope for a truly honest and revealing statement so I can make an informed decision about any contribution. I like to know where my money is going, my other contributions to indy related sites/fundraisers have all provided the information necessary to satisfy my questioning mind.

    1. Bernard Thompson says:

      Fair points, David, though I feel sure that the answers would be acceptable.

      It’s also to Bella’s credit that they do pay freelancers.

      A friend of mine had a piece in the Sunday Herald which they published on the condition that there would be no payment.

      For an established profit-seeking title labelling itself “progressive” that is a disgrace, in my opinion.

      1. David anderson says:

        Yes I agree, tis hard enough to get noticed as a writer in any medium, just thinking of the broader range of uses for this website and wondering if a little sacrifice in that dept for the greater good would work.

        As I mentioned I just like to know, I suppose that is admitting that us contributers also have ownership issues to some extent and maybe that is also relevant to the discord we often find on sites such as Bella. Though the debacle of the Holyrood voting debate certainly did not help in that respect.

        Oh, and you are spot on with your ‘disgrace’ comment re the Herald. Fees should be paid for anything that is accepted as written ‘work’.

        1. John O'Dowd says:

          I’ve had several pieces published on Bella. I have never sought nor received payment for them.

          Obviously, this is not the case for others – although I do not rely on writing for my livelihood.

          In fact, I have made donations to Bella.

          As a former academic, I’m used to receiving no payment for my writing – but I realise some people write for a living.

          I agree there needs to be more transparency, but those who write out of political and social commitment also need to be catered for.

  44. Mach1 says:

    Bella is a valuable forum for debate on the issues surrounding the independence project. For his hard work, Mike Small deserves all our thanks and I sincerely hope that he continues to contribute to the political debate in Scotland. There are many people who comment here who would be able to provide direct support to a new editor, or editorial team, if asked. I have no understanding of the board structure or the financing of the site, but would be downcast if it were to disappear. I therefore wish Bella well in searching for a solution, in the spirit of collective co-operation which I trust will be the basis of a future independent Scotland.

  45. bringiton says:

    Thank you Mike and best wishes for the future.

  46. Bernard Thompson says:

    Just an ill-thought-out idea, remembering how socialist papers used to have a ‘solidarity price”.

    Could Bella contributors have a voluntary option to write for a “solidarity fee”, effectively meaning that a percentage of the fee is considered a donation to the site?

    I would see that as being in keeping with the ethical values of the site and indy/citizen media, while perhaps helping to reduce the cost base.

  47. Mark says:

    Hi Folks,
    Would it not be a good idea to give a breakdown of what’s required/ tally on what’s coming in to encourage people who do want the site to continue to contribute. It certainly makes sense to me.
    I’m going to donate but it would be good to know where it was going etc as in previous years.
    Just my thoughts

  48. George Wilson says:

    Sad to hear this, especially at the most pivotal point in Scottish politics in 300 years. We need the contribution of Bella to the debate more than ever. Good luck to Mike and his contribution, of course, appreciated by many. However, surely there is another way forward that avoids closure? Costs can be pared to the bone to get through this period. Further, what exactly is required by each reader to get through the next, say. six months? Reflect back – what were your costs ten years ago and how did you manage to set-up in the first place? Now is definitely not the time to fold.

  49. babs nicgriogair says:

    It would be a massive loss to the independence movement and indeed to a more progressive Scotland if Bella goes under. I already support with a monthly donation and enjoy the many thought-provoking posts that pop into my in-box – but would be prepared to up that contribution if we had a ball park figure to keep it going.

  50. Gordon Cuthbertson says:

    I have supported Bella for a few years. Mostly on an irregular basis. I was put off visiting the Facebook page for a bit during the debate over the list vote. In my opinion there was at that time too much intransigence and bile from commenters on both sides. However it was good that the Bella Caledonia FB page allowed debate and tried to moderate comments fairly. During that time the articles on the website continued to be good quality and interesting. I didn’t always agree with them, and I didn’t always agree with the editors positions in some of the disputes that arose over content. Bella has consistently provided articles on a wide variety of subjects from a wide range of voices.It has provoked and allowed debate. That’s why I have moved to making a small regular donation.

    1. Thank you very much Gordon, that’s very kind. Managing a FB page is a task I wouldn’t wish on anyone. We manage a group with 14,000 members and try and allow as much dissent and argument as possible. It’s tricky!

  51. Gaga Glasgow says:

    First of all, I’d tip my hat to the attempt made by BC to cover such a diverse range of subjects and issues in what was a fair a balanced way.

    Secondly, I’d have to criticise BC for being so stupid as to attempt to cover such a diverse range of subjects and issues in a fair and balanced way.

    Most comments above focus on the politics of Bella which is odd because there was actually quite a lot of clarity on the politics side — I’ve never really doubted Bella’s pro-Indy credentials even if I’d rather it didn’t give succour to certain voices.

    The problem, I think, is that nobody knows what Bella is. It attempts to cover too many bases. Fundamentally this is a marketing problem.

    It’s fine for the BBC or Guardian to be broad churches, they were established as broad churches decades ago and have the resources in place to be broad, but the idea of a broad church is an old idea and the technology of the web doesn’t really encourage ensembles like that.

    The web rewards niche sites. If BC wants to survive it needs to be more niche and it needs to clarify what it offers within a specific niche. If it proves itself within its chosen niche, then it will succeed. That’s how it works for everybody, that’s the rules of the game.

    If you look at sites and blogs that succeed, they’re very specifically targeting niche areas. That’s what we want as web users. Wings for news on Indy, BBC (even though I hate them) for sport, KDS for news on Rangers, etc.

    1. Hi Gaga – I think that’s a valid criticism, it’s something we’ve struggled with. At what point does eclectic become incoherent? At the same time the origins of the magazine was to fuse politics and culture, and maybe we need to re-address that focus and make it a bit tighter.

      Thanks for your comment.

      1. David McDowell says:

        Wings Over Scotland appears to be able to tap the crowdfunding well endlessly, so why can’t Bella? I believe it’s because WOS are totally clear about their political views and their “die hard” pro-independence niche who are willing to pay repeatedly to see pro-Union propaganda successfully debunked. However I suspect this pool of “goodwill” funding is microscopic, leaving other pro-independence media unable to emulate the trick and survive on the crumbs WOS has left on the table.
        So Gaga’s advice is good:
        1. Make your political viewpoint crystal clear.
        2. Cater to the needs of a small niche who closely share that political viewpoint.
        3. Work to build a small, but sustainable, customer base who are willing to pay for premium content and other exclusive rewards on a monthly subscription basis (not periodic crowdfunding).
        4. Deliver content using a method that rewards that loyal base with premium content and other exclusive rewards, whilst allowing for 80-90% of content to be published for free.
        I believe this or something like it, whilst certainly not a guarantee of success, is still a better bet than limping on with the “bottomless pit of crowdfunding” belief that we know for sure ends in a sudden crisis announcement about impending closure.

        1. Thanks for the advice David. I think though that whilst this model would work it wouldn’t be particularly politically useful. I think the political challenge is to engage people who don’t already agree with us, not to discuss things in a closed loop with those who do. I couldn’t really make our political viewpoint any clearer. We’re pro-indy but not wedded to any single party. We have retained this stance for a decade. Whilst we think that independence is the primary political issue of our generation, it also sits alongside other issues such as poverty, social justice, inequality, corruption and the climate crisis.

          1. David McDowell says:

            Mike – maybe you could build a politically partisan subscriber base who pay for premium, “pro-independence” output, and use their money to produce non-partisan content targeted at those people “outside the political echo chamber”. I’ve never thought of a hybrid “politically partisan/non-partisan” model like that before, but you might have to try something totally novel to survive. Whatever you do, I hope it works!

        2. David McDowell says:

          I think BC’s long-term survival partly depends on them “biting the bullet”: i.e. adopting a clearly partisan political stance.
          The non-partisan Caledonian Mercury now seems to be in a state of perpetual limbo.
          The self-professed “balanced” NewsShaft folded when they saw that long-term crowdfunding was not realistic.
          It appears Scotland’s current polarized political situation makes balanced political coverage a non-starter. That same polarization might also explain the current viability of the clearly partisan Wings Over Scotland.

          1. David – our political stance has been explicit for a decade. We are pro-indy but back no single party and offer a range of editorial content beyond a narrow constitutional framework.

          2. David McDowell says:

            Yes, sorry, I misread the point Gaga was making. He’s right, you probably need to clarify purpose. or “mission” as business people call it, and really nail down your USP. So it’s back to the drawing board! What can Bella provide that no one else can provide? Is there a demand for content that only you can provide? These are the key questions underlying genuine long term financial viability in any market. It’s time to research, strategise, take a deep breath and begin a fundamental transformation of Bella into whatever it is you think people are willing to pay for that they can’t get elsewhere, quite possibly for free. Digital journalism is one tough business!

          3. David McDowell says:

            Mike – what I think is missing from the Scottish pro-indy media market is a nightly, two hour internet radio phone-in: a live discussion show with guests.
            I know Bella has been “print only” but I think such a show would be a great boon to the independence movement – especially if it also covered the lighter side of life beyond politics. I had hoped NewsShaft were heading in that direction, but sadly they folded before their weekly phone-in show had a chance to catch on. It was great while it lasted!
            This “cross platform” approach is key to making something like Freemium work. People can choose to pay for content delivered as print, radio, or video only, or choose all three. The most important, however, is exclusive “behind the scenes” content where people feel they are actually going along with you as you embark on your exciting publishing adventure. You know, real buy-in from people who feel their money is vital to make the venture a success, people who would want tickets to be in the audience when the radio show goes out, that sort of thing. I’m sure you know what I mean.

  52. David McDowell says:

    You have learned the hard way that crowdfunding works great for start up capital but is not a reliable source of long-term working capital. Time to try other funding models. Maybe the board should consider a pilot scheme using, for example, the Freemium subscription model?

    1. Thanks David, that’s really interesting.

      Yes – we are looking at a number of other models and structures

  53. Gordon Peters says:

    Would be very sorry to see BELLA cease. Great way for exiles like me to keep in touch with some of the best analysis and what going on in Scotland.
    Small contrib. for time being sent.

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