Bella’s Top Scottish Alternative Media 2018
We spend a lot of the time slagging off the old tired media, quite rightly, for reasons too often repeated to go into right now. But we probably spend too little time celebrating the newer alternative media and flourishing of small print, zines and podcasts, independent film-makers and publishers. Earlier in the year we asked readers for nominations for their favourite independent media projects. We were looking for “media in any form that exhibits some kind of innovation, fresh thinking, edge, quality, good design, great writing, or impact.” The only other criteria was that it should be based in Scotland and have a reasonable amount of output (i.e. not just one-off).
Some of the categorisation is a bit murky and we don’t claim this to be anything other than subjective and incomplete, but here’s some of the very best alternative media projects from Scotland …
Ungagged has been running since October 2016 and has developed a reputaion for regular high-quality wide ranging broadcasting. Listen here to the mixture of talk and music ‘left voices unfiltered, unedited’.
On the Engender is Scotland’s feminist policy podcast, produced by Engender and featuring “the voices of experts from across Scotland’s women’s sector.” The podcast explores issues relating to women’s equality in Scotland, from local democracy to reproductive rights, and from the criminal justice system to care reform.
Interrobang: Field Work “INTERROBANG‽ has always quietly prided itself in showcasing some of the best contemporary storytelling, poetic, and musical talent based in Scotland. At the same time, we’re very aware that we’re undertaking that task while standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Not Another Fake Newscast is a new podcast from cousins Paul and Gerry from North Lanarkshire which “tries to sift through the misreporting, fake news & sometimes outright lies presented to us all on a daily basis.”
Beyond the Noise is the new podcast by CommonSpace featuring writer David Jamieson. It’s an attempt to get beyond the spin and 24 hour news cycle to deeper questions about what’s going on, weekly and now live.
All Hail the Pod – is the new podcast from Jim Slaven and the crew at 107 Cowgate (the birthplace of James Connolly). This is the voice of republican Edinburgh “The strap line “We only want the earth” is a quote from Connolly’s song ‘Be Moderate’ and reads in full Our demands most moderate are – We only want the earth.”
Angry Scotland Podcast: irreverent discussion about topics as varied as circumcision and Ross Thomson. As sweary as Not Another Fake Newcast.
Scots Whay Hae: The lovingly curated pet pod project of Alistair Braidwood (see also Indelible Ink) covering literature and culture.
Nutmeg – the Scottish football periodical produces a classy accompaniment to the print publication.
Newsnet Radio – regular podcasts, interviews and features.
The Ferret leapt out of the ‘alternative media’ territory this year with a £100,000 funding package this year from the Omidyar Network. But it is no less than deserved from a group who have carved out a niche of subscriber-supported investigative journalism with a series of exposes and investigations about corruption in Scotland.
A Thousand Flowers – “fearless” is an epithet that could have been carved for ‘A Thousand Flowers’, gobby might have been too. Self-described as an “unsavoury cabal of queers, feminists and trolls. Your new go-to gaiz for seditious gossip and druggy innuendo.” Loved & hated for their Weekly Wanker column.
Conter – “Conter (n. the contrary, vt. to oppose, to thwart) is a new cross-party site designed for and by Scottish anti-capitalists. We aim to generate dialogue between different groups and promote the amazing work being done by groups and individuals across Scotland.” Under the editorship of Jonathan Rimmer it produces a regular output of thoughtful longform essays and articles from a Scottish left perspective with a nice balance between ‘though’ and ‘action’.
Interregnum is a new magazine from Glasgow activists combining text and video and coverage of protests. “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”- Antonio Gramsci. See also HipHop v Fash.
Autonomy Scotland – a great outlet for some time of news and analysis – may have ground to a halt (hope not).
CommonSpace – long-running magazine from CommonWeal with a mix of news, opinion, policy and broadcast: “Choose a media revolution that will shake the system, and choose to enjoy it. Choose to be the media, not hate the media. Choose the future, choose wisely” – now edited by Ben Wray.
Podcart (formerly Glasgow Podcart) is the original and the best Scottish music podcast featuring music of the month, spotify playlists, news and videos, and, er, a podcast all brought to you by Halina Rifai and Kirsty Stewart. “Podcart is a Glasgow-based music blog and podcast. We showcase music we love not only from Scotland, but around the world.”
GoldflakePaint is a trove of songs, albums, conversation and are this year launching a quarterly music journal after the success of their first issue.
Scottish Fiction is a showcase of the best music from alternative to hip-hop, from folk to electronica, and from major artists to the unsigned and underground: “Scottish Fiction champions new music from Scotland in all it’s forms.” With sessions, playlists a radio show, an EP series and daily playlists it’s a mine of great tunes and great writing.
Foot Stompin’ – a monthly free Scottish music podcast from the infectiously enthusiastic Simon Thoumire and Hands Up for Trad, this is the soundtrack to the Scots language revival.
MEDIA PUBLISHING IN SCOTS
Mak Forrit is a blog anent politics, cultur, the airts an mair, written i the Scots language.
Dialecty: “I am for adjectives like beezer, dreich, quare, and nouns like clart, drouth, gleed, mizzle, oxters, scoot-hole, smoor, and verbs like boke, fissle, greet, hunker, swither, and adverbs like furnenst” declares Maria Fusco introducing her project of vernacular poetry and writing including a series of chapbooks with writing by Harry Josephine Giles & Martin O’Leary, Robert McClean, Helen Nisbet, Lisa Robertson, Adam Pendleton and Natasha Soobramanien & Luke Williams.
Scots Radio: a Scots language radio programme presented by Frieda Morrison
MEDIA PUBLISHING IN GAELIC
The Daily Gael manages to navigate a pastiche of the Daily Mail and advocacy for gaelic whilst gently trolling the entire anti-gaelic reactionary whine. Very funny.
Gu cinnteach: STEALL! Published by CLÀR
a brilliant periodical with political opinion, book reviews, poetry (original work and translations). Ambitious and essential contribution to Gaelic media.
Dàna wide-ranging gaelic magazine.
Marcas Mac an Tuairneir the seemingly endlessly talented writer, poet and singer is a regular contributor to Dàna, Cothrom Ùr and Bella Caledonia and is the Gaelic Editor of one of Scotland’s most exciting poetry periodicals, The Poet’s Republic.
ARTS AND CULTURAL MEDIA
Glasgow Review of Books is a powerhouse of short and long reviews, translations, fiction poetry and art. Puts its competitors in the shade.
Gutter – presumptuously calls itself the magazine of new Scottish writing, but then delivers on that claim. “The editors believe there is a need for an energetic, ambitious magazine dedicated exclusively to the best in new Scottish creative writing” – there is and this is it.
Tapsalteerie produces a range of poetry pamphlets – the ideal scale for short-run publications which encourage experimentation and new writing: “We produce an eclectic range of publications across the Scots, Gaelic and English languages, with a focus on new poets and innovative writing.”
The Leither surpasses what a community newspaper should be with fine writing and tuning-in to the streets of Leith, edited by Billy Gould.
The Broughton Spurtle (Broughton’s independent stirrer) pioneered ‘hyperlocal’ news since 1994, edited by Alan McIntosh.
The Grist – a pro independence newsletter produced by a dedicated team of Yes Kelty Activists, we have produced 12 issues which have been delivered free to every household in Kelty since 2014, a sum total of 42,000 issues. The aim of the Grist being to persuade no voters to think differently by highlighting issues which affect us directly, to keep soft yes voters on board and to show the support independence has from the many local businesses in Kelty who finance the publication costs by paying for advertising. The Grist has kept Yes visible in a subtle way in Kelty and beyond and is supported by our fantastic contributors who regularly and gladly write articles free of charge.
The Poets’ Republic (“the Poets’ Republic – in print, online, on stage and off-message – is a poetry magazine with a difference”) with a blog, review, poems and poet profiles publishing in Scots, English and Gaelic.
Zarf, a contemporary magazineof new experimental poetry and pamphlet press edited by Callum Gardiner.
Kelty Street Art – Blackhall Square, Kelty – a group of local artists and volunteers in Kelty transformed a rundown and neglected area in Kelty using fantastic street art. This has resulted in two premises, which previously looked derelict and which were closed for almost 20 years, being opened for business and also the existing local businesses have taken on extra staff. People who live there feel so much better about the area and are proud to live there, please see “Kelty Street Art” on You-tube for evidence.
Dostoyevsky Wannabe – its not entirely clear what’s going on – but it’s very beautiful.
Good Press (Glasgow) is a a volunteer-run-informal-organisation dedicated to the promotion and distribution of independently published printed matter with a focus on visual arts and writing; occasionally music and artist objects. It’s richly packed with zines, comics, photography and one off print experiments.
VlLOGS OR FILM PROJECTS
Nation – Phantom Power and Lesley Riddoch’s Nation series followed tours of Iceland, Faroes and Norway and screened across Scotland provoking discussion about our location as a northern European country. Riddoch writes: “This summer, Phantom Power filmmaker Al McMaster and I crowd-funded to finance the production of three films about our small, successful Nordic neighbours. Over the summer I researched and set up interviews, we both travelled to the Faroes, Iceland and Norway where Al filmed and then edited the interviews and landscape shots. The films are all available on Al’s Youtube channel. The aim was to find out more about these countries – all of which punch well above their weight in health, literacy, average income and happiness. We have tried to explain how they’ve all overcome immense challenges of remoteness and relatively barren landscapes to achieve independence – or in the case of the Faroes the world’s most powerfully devolved parliament. We’ve also tried to show how they’ve used those powers to provide services that far exceed what’s available in Scotland.”
Independence Live are “Citizen live stream journalists covering events in Scotland and abroad” – possibly the best (and most consistent) manifestation of citizens media reflecting the grassroots democracy movement in Scotland.
Robert J Somynne and Michael Gray’s Scotia series produced a half hour Scottish curtest affairs discussion programme.
Sarah Mackie -“Short, Twitter-length videos (2 minutes and 20 seconds or less) relating to politics in Holyrood, Westminster and the campaign for Scottish independence.”