2007 - 2021

Changing Scottish Media

The first round of our new Many Voices programme has just been announced with an exciting range of Commissioning Editors joining our team in the coming weeks. These are:

Tomiwa Folorunso who will be writing and podcasting exploring the question: what are ‘our wildest dreams’ for Scotland, for black women, for people of colour, and for the world?

Zozan Yasar is a Kurdish journalist from Turkey who has worked as a freelance journalist, interpreter and translator. As a Kurd, she struggled to officially register her Kurdish name with the government in Turkey. After arrests and harassment, she was eventually forced to seek asylum in the UK. She says: “I remember the day I applied for asylum in the UK so well. Instead of a new beginning, it felt as if it was the end of everything for me. Nobody, I thought, will ever know what I have left behind. Nobody here can understand what it is like to feel you have lost all hope. The thought that all the fights I have had in my life will start once again.”

Sean Wai Keung will be focusing on food cultures and solidarity. He’ll be asking: how does preparing food together and eating together help foster a sense of community and identity for people who are often far away from ‘home’ and suffering loss and vulnerability?

Annie George has been working in Scottish theatre for thirty years and is going to be writing about art and politics and the politics of art. She will be exploring the history of theatre by and about black and brown people in Scotland.

Anahit Behrooz is an experienced arts journalist. She will be exploring the extent to which Britain’s colonial legacy is still embedded in the fabric of the culture and asking: how is decolonisation being tackled in Scottish cultural institutions?

Luke Campbell will be critically engaging with contemporary issues of gender and sexual equality, transgender recognition and access to support services, alongside attacks on gender studies and community funding. Luke will be platforming voices from within queer social movements and support services, and building solidarity networks throughout his time in post.

Raman Mundair is based in the Shetland Isles and her approach seeks to bring to the light stories, voices and opinion with intersectional perspectives with an emphasis on voices from the margins, especially Scottish people of colour, queer people of colour, disabled people of colour, working class people of colour, and parents of colour.

Each person will be funded to carry out their work and have a commissioning budget to also facilitate others from within their emerging networks.

We hope this to be the first small step on a bigger journey to create a media that is more representative of our society and challenges cultural norms and orthodoxies and fights back against endemic racism, misogyny and prejudice. Changing the nature of media in Scotland is a deeper and longer term project than just correcting political bias, it is about challenging the bland hegemony of the media elite. Creating a Scottish democracy requires us to create a democratic media – and in times of reactionary populism and the rise of the far-right the need for a critical dissident press has never been clearer.



Comments (16)

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  1. Bob says:

    “Changing the nature of media in Scotland is a deeper and longer term project than just correcting political bias, it is about challenging the bland hegemony of the media elite. ”

    That statement brushes aside the dangers to democracy Scotland is now facing and suggests to me that Bella Calledonia wants to become part of the media elite. I say this because the justification as a “longer term project” only exists with Scotland as part of the UK. As an independent country there is no need for such a project.

    Indeed for us to get to the end goal of being independent, there needs to be a new entry into the 4th estate to fight off the “media elite” as we take that journey and at this late stage I see it only coming from those currently involved in the print, online broadcast and established Blogs who are committed to Scotland being an independent country, now acting together.

    1. How on earth can committing to changing the hegemony of the media elite be a commitment to becoming part of that elite?

      Our statement in no way brushes aside the dangers to democracy Scotland is now facing.

    2. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:


    3. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

      Oh, I see where you’re coming from now, Bob. You reckon that, once the Scottish government has achieved independence from Westminster, there will ‘naturally’ be no hegemony left to challenge. Hence, you conclude that Bella’s announcement of a longer-term project must be predicated on the assumption that Scotland will still be part of the UK over that longer term.

      I think it’s a bit starry-eyed to think that a Scotland governed independently from Edinburgh won’t have its own cultural hegemony; that there won’t still be a need for media that are representative of our whole society and its diversity, that challenge our cultural norms and orthodoxies, and that fight back against the racism, misogyny, and prejudice that are just as endemic in Scotland as they are elsewhere in the world.

      So, go Bella! Political independence is a stupid ‘end goal’; it’s what we do with it that’s important.

      1. Bob says:

        All newspapers and TV news broadcasts are owned outside Scotland the regulation of which will need representations to the newly independent Scottish government to continue. If reference to “Changing Scottish Media” includes the many home grown talents that are helping to inform and take us towards independence then fine but that is not the case refering instead only to the media elite.

        Just to clarify, I do not “reckon” everything will be just fine when we achieve independence and am well aware that the issues and challenges Scotland will face are the same most other indepndent countries face, including that of the media’s place.

        “it’s what we do with it that’s important”, great, but we don’t have ‘It’ yet and the most pressing point right now with Sottish media is that it works within the rules laid down by another country whose political system is against Scotland even having a say in its own future.

        The most radical change to Scottish Media in preparation for independence would be to give a platform to those working tireleslly towards independence to inform us from outside the constraints of the media elite, as they are totally ignored and attacked by mainstream UK media. Support for independence is not be a career choice it is a focused collective objective.

        1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

          Well, we don’t know that all media will be regulated by the Scottish government to ensure that it toes its line in the same way that you allege that the UK government currently does.

          Personally, I’d be hoping for something much less regulated, something that allowed for a polyphony of divergent voices; something more akin to what Bella’s Many Voices programme is seeking to engender. I certainly won’t be alienating my sovereignty exclusively to a Scottish government , in the event of a second referendum, without some binding guarantee that, among other things, our media will be free; ‘turkeys’ and ‘Christmas’ are two words that spring to mind.

          No, we don’t have independence yet. But we’ll never have independence in Scotland, even with a sovereign government controlling our affairs from Edinburgh, without some guarantee of our liberties. What the prospect would be for those of us who choose to live wholly under the authority of an independent Scottish government is the most pressing point right now. That prospectus is what we should be voting on.

          It’s not often we’re in a strong bargaining position vis-à-vis government. The present Scottish government is clearly desperate to be independent of the UK. We should be using that desperation to screw from it all the power concessions we can get as a condition of our support, not giving it a carte blanche.

  2. Selma Rahman says:

    Loving this, and looking forward with great anticipation. Thank you.

  3. babs nicgriogair says:

    A good and timely move! Really looking forward to having my mind and heart opened by an amazing crew of passionate creatives.

  4. SleepingDog says:

    OK, I get that this is just one step towards including ‘many voices’, but some of these sections seem already over-represented in institutions like the BBC (according to Ofcom’s figures). On the other hand, my impression is that there is a major underrepresentation of voices from the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects in elite/corporate/state media, which is an extraordinarily dangerous deficit. Plus a bunch of disciplines overlapping (medicine, philosophy, inter-disciplinary research on the mind, and so forth) struggle to get a look-in, unless they are boosting some product or lifestyle or wellbeing schtick.

    There are potentially a whole bunch of subcultures which are worth devoting more attention to, particularly ones on the forefront of social technologies, or ones focused on community resilience (makers, self-sufficiency projects, grassroots emergency planning and so on). We need knowledgeable and critical viewpoints here, asking questions like why so many computer games let you customize your brown, yellow, black, white, blue characters, but very, very few deal with historial slavery or anti-colonial struggles.

    For example, the elite media seems woefully ill-equipped to ask why a primarily-software-based ‘moonshot’ test-tracking solution could possibly need to cost £100 billion. When probably an open-source group of volunteers colloborating internationally might be able to put together a working prototype for nothing, zero, £0.00, no outlay whatsover in days or weeks. Then this would provoke other questions, of political-social-economic natures, about (as I have mentioned before) how idea communism works (how much did we pay for the world wide web?). Whereas elite artists are generally obsessed with their intellectual property, which prevents their work being shared in commons, or using in learning materials (well done on applying that to the Scotland the Dump map, but these materials also need to be editable and available in non-proprietary formats).

    Actually, that would be interesting. Why not have an artist put all their rough working for a project up and invite feedback as they go along? Open source art.

    1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

      Yep, I think you’re on to something here, which is uncharacteristically and unconscionably charitable of me.

      The only immediate difficulty I have is with your use of the word ‘subculture’, which suggests inferiority or, at least, something secondary. I’m sure you didn’t mean to suggest this, but this kind of vocabulary is still one of the means by which the hegemon marginalises and dominates others in society – e.g. exactly like the moral elite does, which we discussed elsewhere.

      I’d also take a more laissez-faire approach towards the liberation of others from the hegemonies by which elites maintain their positions of dominance. The oppression of others isn’t something we need to positively address; again, this smacks of the kind of paternalism by which we extended our empires and created dependencies. We can’t liberate others; others can only liberate themselves.

      Rather, we need to address the oppression/liberation of others negatively, by allowing spaces through which others can proceed differently in cognitive, evaluative, and practical matters and go their own variant ways within a democratic [self-regulating] framework of such minimal limits as must be imposed in the interests of maintaining that peaceful and productive interaction that’s conducive to the best interests of everyone alike. (Applied Hegel!)

      Bella’s Many Voices programme is, I take it, opening up such spaces, and it’s to be applauded for doing so.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Anndrais mac Chaluim, yes, I meant ‘subculture’ in a positive sense, in that subcultures often provide extra insights, cultivate uncommon skills, hold certain values that may be of overall benefit. Subcultures which are highly deliberative (meaningful argument about what is good and why) can be useful models for participatory democracy. Subcultures which are highly sharing and mutually supportive can be learnt from. Subcultures which specialise in translation can provide bridge-builders between, say, the world of data and visual art, some of which examples have been curated by Edward Tufte:

        And yes, I am generally positive about the potential of Many Voices. But having had recent experience of academics and artists in a mutually-reinforcing bubble talking about intertextuality, I am wary of many voices saying much the same things. Many artists excel in describing what they can see, but we often benefit from descriptions of what we cannot see, touch, smell, hear, taste… I’m not just talking about microscopes and scientific instruments here, I am talking about the systems thinking that creates the models that show the spaces where we may have never looked before, like a small child familiar with a supermarket but has never seen a farm or plantation. And if you want to talk about digital equality (as the Web Foundation does) then you are better prepared by learning some of the technicalities (and since human language is a technology, that should not be beyond most people, who may use the terms from technical subcultures that have been passed into English every day).

        1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

          Okay. So let’s call them ‘countercultures’ instead: ways of life that are at variance with the prevailing social norms.

          For language is important; as the blessed Heidegger said, it’s the house of being, the home in which human beings dwell (‘Heimat’), and those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of this home.

          ‘Poetically man dwells…’, and all that.

          And yes, we must be wary of those inauthentics who seek only ‘acceptance’ or assimilation to the master or ‘host’ culture; that is, who want admission to the elite textualities or ‘bubbles’ (as you image them) rather than a genuine intertextuality.

  5. Fiona McOwan says:

    What a fantastic initiative, can’t wait to read/listen to the results.

  6. Balford says:

    Not what I somehow expected. I no longer see how I will be represented at BC. I’m out.

    1. I wonder how you think expanding the voices heard in the media excludes you?

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