A Better Media Is Possible

keyboardactivists.jpgBy Mike Small

We will be giving more detail of our intentions and the background business model over the next week, as we continue our appeal to you for support. We should reiterate to everyone who is pleading for consolidation and collaboration with other indy media projects that we are busy doing just this. But let’s first mark out a bit more clearly what we think the problem and opportunity is here.

Unionist Media

Some people are under the impression that the problem is with a unionist media, and that needs to be replaced by a pro-independence media.

We certainly agree that the issue of a lack of diversity and pluralism in Scottish media is dire. We stated it in our founding statement (see here), quoting Alex Bell who said: “Where is there a newspaper that champions independence as favoured, we are told by pollsters, by a majority of Scots? There is none. Never has been. It never ceases to amaze me that not one newspaper in Scotland supports the policy of independence supported by half of the six parties in Holyrood. That is not only anti-democratic, it is a disgrace to journalism and an affront to free speech.”

Not only is this bad for Scottish politics and Scottish democracy, it doesn’t make any sense commercially, just take the fact that it’s estimated that the Scotsman has lost 80% of its readership in a decade. While some of this is due to mismanagement, and new technologies and the growth of online news outlets, it’s also due to its antagonistic relationship with its readers.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Iain Macwhirter points out that: “…the Irish Independent, a nationalist title, sells more than twice the number of its unionist rival, the Irish Times…Selling 120,000 copies a day, it has over four times the circulation of  The Scotsman.” (1)

But ‘the problem’ is not just that all outlets of media are dominated by a unionist outlook, ‘the problem’ is far deeper. So the response needs to be much deeper too. Just creating a pro-indy tv station or paper won’t ‘solve’  the deep systemic problems in how we receive information about what’s going on in our society. That’s not to say that a pro-indy paper or tv or radio station aren’t good ideas, they’re essential, but they’re only part of the picture. We will fail if we become ‘the mainstream media’ replicating their norms and quietism. We will succeed if we retain our norms, values and methods but greatly increase our reach.

If the current paradigm is top-down messaging of people of biased news, the solution CAN’T BE top-down messaging of a differently bias news. That doesn’t make any sense, and only, or purely supposing that the referendum was lost because of the media is a mistake. This isn’t to discount their power, it’s just to say that we need a better strategy than the blame-game.

George Monbiot has written:

Despite the rise of social media, the established media continues to define the scope of representative politics in Britain, to shape political demands and to punish and erase those who resist. It is one chamber of the corrupt heart of Britain, pumping fear, misinformation and hatred around the body politic. (2)

This harsh truth, and a quiet post-indy desperation has led many people to believe that the only answer is to mimic and take over those institutions. Bella believes that this is a mistake. The media we create should be one that we control. It should be based on the same principles as the movement: self-organised, bottom-up, free-thinking, autonomous, fresh.

It’s worth exploring why the problems in media control go way beyond being pro-Union to see why a new approach is needed.

Censorship by Omission

Bad media in Scotland is not, in Scotland, about conspiracy. It’s often about lack of resources, imagination or consciousness. Ben Wray, Robin McAlpine and I ran press conferences for weeks in the run up to the referendum launching speakers, reports, think tank research, pamphlets, and personal stories less than a mile from Glasgow’s main newspapers. None came.

This isn’t just a media that’s biased, it’s  a media that’s useless.

Who had the nous to follow a story that didn’t issue direct from a party leaders or a campaign press release?

Very few: Channel 4’s Paul Mason and a handful of foreign journalists.

There’s a deeper culture at work here.

Whether it’s the Mass Misogyny of tabloid culture or the protection of military interests that has fuelled Wikileaks, both are about preserving the status quo. While one is predicated on patterns of male dominance the other is more crudely based on using the law to protect  the military-state.

We hear that: “Attorneys for the United States government say that an upcoming court hearing concerning the force-feeding practices used on a Guantanamo Bay detainee should be held almost entirely behind closed doors.” The motion, filed by US attorneys on Friday in District Court for the District of Columbia, asks that the preliminary injunction hearing for Gitmo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab scheduled for early next month be conducted largely in secret over supposed national security concerns.”

Similar moves have been developed by the British State and British Courts.

The effect is that a whole gender goes missing and the truth about what the military do in our name disappears from view.

So we have layers of problems in our media before we even get to issues of ownership and control.

Pluralism and Diversity

This is about the concentration of power being reflected through a more and more narrow lens.

In 1983, the principal media were owned by fifty corporations. In 2002, this had fallen to nine transnational companies. Rampant deregulation has ended even a semblance of diversity. In February 2004, Rupert Murdoch predicted that, within three years, there would be just three global media corporations and his company would be one of them. (3)

What we have here is just a mirror of that concentration of ownership. In Scotland you have to add in to the mix the ‘succulent lamb journalism’, the phrase coined whilst the Scottish sports media turned a blind eye to the ongoing disintegration of Rangers Football Club as they were spoon-fed juicy gossip, stories, dinners and hospitality by David Murray. In politics as in football. There’s a cosiness and clubbiness to Scottish political life as the elite of media and office mingle.

This lack of diversity isn’t limited to companies and owners, it extends to workplace cultures, managers and editors too. As Professor John Robertson, UWS has stated:

“In 2006, the Sutton Trust which operates on behalf of the BBC, reported on the educational backgrounds of leading UK journalists. The report tells us that though only 7% of the population is educated in fee-paying schools, they produce 54% of top (best paid) journalists in the UK. Only 12% of top journalists went to state schools. A whopping 56% of them went to only Oxford or Cambridge, as did Cameron, Osbourne, Milliband and Balls. 72% of them went to the 13 top (Russell Group) UK universities. The report concludes: ‘Is news coverage preoccupied with the issues and interests of the social elite that journalists represent? Should the profession not better reflect the broader social make-up of the audiences it serves?’”

Further to this, and inextricably linked to it, there’s a ‘dogmatic insistence’ of many mainstream journalists to, as Seamus Milne puts it:

“…events are largely the product of an arbitrary and contingent muddle… chronic refusal by the mainstream media in Britain – and most opposition politicians – to probe or question the hidden agenda and unaccountable, secret power structures at the heart of government…the result is that and entire dimension of politics and the exercise of power is habitually left out of standard reporting and analysis. And by refusing to acknowledge this dimension, it is often impossible to make proper sense of what is actually going on…” (4)

The referendum process was a mass political education.

For thousands of people some basic realities about how the British State, press and political class relate to each other were made clear for the first time.

As the post referendum debate rages it’s worth reflecting on how different sections and ages of the population use the internet. For many there is still a significant issue of digital exclusion. (5) Whether this is to do with poor rural connectivity, lack of digital literacy or the cost of broadband and access, the cumulative result is that it’s estimated that 1.3 million people in Scotland are excluded from a vital component of being citizen today.

This is a significant issue, and in, in our minds, a more fruitful one than re-joining the print media. Even when people of different generations have equal access to the internet, the evidence is they use it in very different ways and with very different expectations. René Barsalo, writing on the P2P Foundation, writes:

Even though we are now finding a growing number of pre-1985 generations familiarizing themselves with the daily use of the internet, most of them are following their existing media habits, which they learned growing up: they send mail, and access their books, newspapers, radio shows and television … but in online formats. However, post-1985 generations perceive networks as extensions of their immediate, present-day environment, which enables real-time access to their friends, their colleagues, and to re-programmable technologies and re-usable, re-mixable knowledge … whenever and wherever they are on the planet. They are exploring in deep ways the possibilities of the digital environment, without assets or territory to protect. Educated to levels never before seen, they rapidly understand the advantages the new set of conditions – interconnectivity and real-time flows of information – offer for new forms of coordinated action. They are demanding a “re-boot”, at least a major digital update of the political and economic systems of our planet. (6)

These realities should shape our media strategy for the future. It would be an act of complete folly to re-create the massive investment in a ring medium just as the entire industry was shifting.

Citizens Media for a Citizens Movement

There’s been some criticism and confusion that ‘citizens media’ means that everyone works for free and the project has no resources or stability and therefore no impact.

That’s not how it works and not how it has to be.

Citizen’s media came to the fore with the pre-blog rise of Indymedia in response to the Seattle anti-WTO protests and subsequent big set piece anti-globalisation demonstrations in which protestors saw their often peaceful and huge public demonstrations being misrepresented as the work of a tiny violent minority. It’s grown to be  huge movement as people realised what an obstacle to change the media has become. See a glimpse of the global picture here.

Now a citizen’s media can evolve in Scotland that is highly co-ordinated, collaborative and participatory. If we can create some stronger foundations it can create ongoing revenue streams, raise funds to support its work and through social media have a huge reach.

It’s not about everyone working for free it’s about giving everyone a voice.

The profession of journalism finds itself at a rare moment in history where, for the first time, its stranglehold on the news is threatened by not just new technology and competitors but, potentially, by the audience it serves.

Armed with a deluge of social media tools always-on connections and increasingly powerful 3G, the online audience has the means for the first time to become an active participant in the creation and dissemination of news and information.

The days of Press Barons are gone. We don’t need them. Bring on the Press Peasants.

Vandana Shiva has called this the ‘insurrection of subjugated knowledge’. But whatever you want to call it, it’s clear that you won’t get an independent Scotland without an independent media, and we can create that.

 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Our plans include the following:

1. Strengthening the Editorial Team. We want to maintain a full-time editor post, to manage and oversee the whole project and to produce the site. We want also to create six editorial posts in the following areas: international, community, arts, innovation, social justice and ecology.

2. We will be creating regular Video News Coverage.

3. We will be rolling out Citizens Journalism Training.

4. We will be publishing our quarterly print magazine Closer.

5. We will be engaging with a mass of Volunteers for events and social media management.

6. We will be Collaborating and coordinating with all the new indy media initiatives.

Please support us HERE.

 

Notes

(1) Democracy in the Dark: The Decline of the Scottish Press, Iain Macwhirter, Saltire Pamphlet series No. 5

(2) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/16/media-shafted-people-scotland-journalists

(3) Tell Me No Lies, John Pilger 2005

(4) The Enemy Within, MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair, Seamus Milne (Verso 1994)

(5) ‘Charity urges action over ‘growing digital divide” [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-25214376]

(6) ‘ Great Information Transitions in the Past and the Present’ [http://p2pfoundation.net/Great_Information_Transitions_in_the_Past_and_the_Present%5D



Categories: Media

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60 replies

  1. Sounds great. So many people are looking forward to this. Will you use proof readers? You have a lot of typos in your articles. It would also help if you could explain concepts that people might not understand. “ring medium” – what’s that? Something similar to a ring network where each node is joined to only two others? Or is it a typo?

  2. Great piece. I think Scotland is just the right size of country to do this. Big enough to have the resources (intellectual and Financial) but small enough to make it easier to co-ordinate. The citizens media movements are very exciting. Glad you flagged the consolidation and co-ordination point though. I’m really worried that we won’t have too many shots at this and we can’t afford to dilute our efforts. i.e. I gave (for me) a lot of cash to help crowdfund a media project – only to see there were a few more that deserved my money too. But the amount I have gets smaller spread over too many projects.Essential that the movement works together.

  3. I’m interested in helping however I can. Sadly not financially at present.

  4. Oh yeah, and about damned time. 🙂

    There are 1.6 million people out there desperate for balance and representation. That’s a helluva market incentive.

  5. Something the UK media needs is a lot more coverage of European politics, culture and everyday life, and not just France and Germany. Most people here simply have no idea about these things and this makes them more receptive to US inspired right-wing ideas. It would be great if you could get contributions from people in Europe, both natives and expats.

    As well as editors and journalists you need people with technical skills, especially in graphic design and web development. If you look at msm news sites they are on a different technical and aesthetic level to the indy sites and if you want to reach a broader audience you will need to match them. I imagine you might also need some legal expertise.

    Would it be too much to make Closer available as a pdf download?

  6. A well written article – thank you for it. I don’t have a lot of cash at the moment, but just sent you a tenner anyway and hope that helps a little.

  7. Some good news, finally! I really hope Scottish media students and established media figures (including photographers, writers, film makers, artists, and other ‘academics’) are excited about this and get involved and support the citizen journalist concept..if you don’t what exactly are you doing? I gave up on news papers many years ago and I am so pleased more and more people are getting this! The only time I read a paper is while waiting on my chinese takeaway or in the barbers..as sadly there tends to be a red top laying around. I do think that is still an issue, they are full of crap but that crap leaves a stain. Scary how little people can know about an issue yet roll off ‘facts’ and opinion about it passionatley they thiink are their own…where did that come from? Oh yeah that paper I read while waiting on getting my haircut or the metro..ask your local businesses to boycott these rags too. Great work Bellacaledonia, support this people!

  8. I was one of those concerned that multiple media ventures might spread the enthusiasm and cash too thinly. All such concerns have been put to bed by this, at least as far as Bella’s concerned.

    In fact it makes me slightly ashamed for having those doubts in the first place. 😉

    Contribution made.

    Onwards.

  9. Economics. You need to include writers on alternative economics, and critics of neo-liberalism, like Thomas Picketty. Different ways of funding and organising.

      • I’d like to float the idea of setting up an independently funded social bank aimed building affordable, energy-efficient housing, for rent or owner-occupancy, like Husbanken in Norway after 1945.

        The way this worked (it was run by the Norwegian government with money from the Marshall plan for post-war reconstruction) was that the fund supplied low cost affordable loans for house-building, but also the professional expertise needed for self-build as part of the package. You could self-build if you thought you were up to it. (Many Norwegians were skilled at building). Or you could employ a builder. You could build a small unit with a view to expansion later on. The professional experts, architects, surveyors, lawyers, hydraulic engineers, etc., were salaried employees of the bank. This kept costs down. It also meant you could trust them to give impartial advice. Projects were controlled by the beneficiaries so that they could get the kind of housing they felt they needed at a price they could afford – it was responsive to the grass roots. In Britain today such professional services are privatised, which makes them very expensive and adds to the costs of building projects, making building the provenance of professional capitalist developers, and not individual self-builders.

        If we can keep housing costs low this will have multiple beneficial effects which will strengthen the country in preparation for eventual independence.

        1. It will reduce our public spending deficit, since housing benefit is a very large element of our overall welfare bill.

        2. Cheap, secure, affordable housing, will make it more possible for young people to consider staying in Scotland rather than at present, when 40,000 well educated young people aged 16-24 leave Scotland every year. These young people are part of our wealth. We have educated them but are not gaining a return from this investment.

        3. Lower housing costs will build stronger, more resilient communities, lessen levels of private debt and anxiety amongst lower paid workers. Families will feel more confident and secure. People will begin to save and invest. Children and parents will feel happier. Wellbeing will increase, and health problems associated with anxiety will decrease, lessening impacts on health care and social costs.

        4. Lower housing costs will improve confidence generally and act as a boost to employment. Small to medium sized businesses might feel more able to take on more employees and more people might feel inspired to start their own small businesses.

      • There’s a while online festival dedicated to pretty much this, starting on October 20 at ThinkDif.co

  10. Quite right, the elite disproportionately account for a huge proportion of the media and Westminster, however what makes them tick is the financial system in the UK. I’d be keen to see Finance in one of the editorial areas

  11. I’ve give some cash and will give more but…..the key to making media work is having a good business model. For every journalist and trainee Bella has, it needs a commercial manager and commercial operators. As I used to say ad nauseam in my trot days, finances are the sinews of war. There needs to be as much attention to commercial generation of income as there is to editorial.

    Very, very good wishes – the Scotland needs this!

    • Very true Jim.

      I’d just add to that that we as the readers and posters on these websites also have choices to make. In the run up to the referendum the odd £10 or £20 to a cause was obviously ok with most as most seem to reach their targets. Most were one off payments.

      Now we have to make a concerted effort, we have to think about giving monthly so that a consistent level of news and articles can be produced and the people producing them can have some kind of regular renumeration for their tireless efforts.

      So whilst not advocating any specific action, I’m currently thinking about my tv licence, if the Sunday Herald is worth it (because for the rest of the week I’m not that enamoured with it) and so on.

      Other charities have benefited from me in the last few years with small amounts paid monthly, those will now be ending and I’ll work out what I can give.

      I’m also bearing in mind the mood from Westminster and have no doubt that personal budgets are going to be stretched over the coming years.

      I’d suggest people sit down and work out their priorities and really think about what they would be willing to forego to make a viable independent media.

  12. Excellent, this is good news. One thing the independence movement has done is bring together a vast amount of very talented people in Scotland. I’m really looking forward to see this acorn flourish into a mighty oak. In all information outlets the important factor is reach, not only the 1.6 million that voted YES but those who voted against independence too, we need to hear their stories and understand why they made their decision to say NO. With that understanding we can then embrace those whose NO vote was on shaky ground and show them through truth, ideas and vision that there is a better way.

    Be handy if Closer was also available as an app, you know, for the young’uns 🙂

    Will donate as soon as my next wage comes in. In terms of regular funding/income I’m sure there are clever people over at Business for Scotland that could advise. Apart from financially I’m not sure how I can contribute as I am based in London but will put my thinking cap on anyway.

    • ” we need to hear their stories and understand why they made their decision to say NO.”

      This comment should be in neon, and possibly deserves an article by itself. If No voters are brave enough to post such accounts on Bella, for instance, it might be an idea to switch comments off, to show that we’re serious about *listening*. Last thing we’d need is for such brave souls to be immediately told ‘where they’re going wrong.’

  13. Me and my friends all over are screaming out for recognition we are all saying give us an outlet please a release not dumbed down crap I wrote a piece today in the Guardian today about the startling comparason between Hong Kong and Beijing and Scotland and Westminster my computer crashed I am an ex soldier who is being classed on Google as a political actavist I suppose now I am

  14. As Jim says:there needs to be as much attention to commercial generation of income as there is to editorial. Admittedly not necessarily of great interest to me but an alternative news portal also needs to attract those who might not be particularly interested in reading through lots of political articles. Other news portals have their music, fashion, cooking etc. bits that attract more eyes (no pun intended) and generate advertising income. Admittedly easier said than done. Perhaps a Scottish perspective on the more ‘mundane’ would be, for many, a welcome alternative to the otherwise London orientated diktat of taste in fashion, food, and music etc.

  15. A lot of young folks doing media / film studies at college these days – and no doubt many of them were involved in the Yes movement. Let’s keep them onboard by offering them a chance of vocational training.

  16. “The referendum process was a mass political education.” That is the most important thing you have ever written, Mike Small. Your plans are timely and needed. The press and the media are owned. The theatre, the arts in general are owned by the same crowd: space occupiers who deny us the means of production to create, remember and stimulate our own culture. I write for Bella Caledonia because I believe in Bella Caledonia. I believe in freedom. The establishment media is a rotten edifice. They – it – will probably collapse before they (it) are blown away. All hats off to the brave editorial team at The Sunday Herald. How long before they get the heave? We build from what we have -ourselves.

  17. Very exited about this, I see huge probabilities for the future of Scottish media. Great article Mike and, am now working out how much regular financial support I can comfortably manage to part with in support of this idea in its infancy. Jack

  18. Not clear what the product will be apart from a quarterly magazine. Could you clarify?

  19. “Armed with a deluge of social media tools always-on connections and increasingly powerful 3G, the online audience has the means for the first time to become an active participant in the creation and dissemination of news and information.”

    I wish it were so.

    You stated earlier in your article that up to 1.3 million are excluded from digital media in some way, yet you finish with this statement above, but up to 1.3 million cannot become fully active participants. I live on an island not 50 miles as the crow flies from Glasgow and whilst you are all enjoying great connectivity and 4G services we haven’t even got a reliable 2G service and this is replicated the length and breadth of rural and remote Scotland.

    The Scottish Government is trying it’s best as regards upgrading broadband, but many of us still spend ages watching the wee dots circling round as we try and watch some online content, despite paying the same price to the provider as those with a superfast service.

    All these initiatives are great with multi-media this that and the other, but I fear that many folk will continue to be excluded. There is a risk in this digital age that those that have access to the fastest, highest megabites per second services will design the new media round this creating an even bigger gulf between the haves and have nots of this digital age.

    As can be seen with the referendum results some of the highest No votes were in some of the areas with the poorest digital and mobile coverage. We need to find ways of getting information to those folk too. This is why I put the highest priority on having a daily/weekly newspaper sympathetic to, but not necessarily cheerleading for, Independence which can be stocked in every newsagent the length and breadth of Scotland or can be subscribed to and delivered with the post giving the vast majority of folk the same access as everyone else to the news and information it provides.

    • Thanks Fiona, my argument would be it’s easier and more future-focused to remedy the digital divide than it is to invest in a daily newspaper. This has quickly become an act of faith in the Yes movement but in rarity when you think it through ts difficult to make the case. You need to a) overcome all of the logistic / distribution issues that existing papers face and b) convince an older readership to shift allegiance from their Record, Express, Mail etc to your new indy-supporting paper. Sorry, I don’t think that’s a good plan.

      • I am disappointed in your reply, the digital divide can only be properly remedied by Governments who give out licenses and for the foreseeable future that is Westminster so I fail to see how it will be remedied promptly as the needs of rural Scotland are not very high on their agenda.

        My reasons for my views are several. I read many times on blogs during the campaign of people going in to supermarkets every day and turning over the top copies of the papers on the stands, why- because even if you don’t buy a paper but are just popping into the shop or newsagent for a pint of milk it is impossible not to glance at the headlines of the papers. If every paper headline is screaming at you that you and your country are some sort of useless entity not capable of looking after yourself with a basket case economy then is it a surprise that the easy default position is to accept it and therefore vote no, even if someone has already pointed you in the direction of all the info you need online, but that takes commitment and effort to do and the ready excuse is that they are too busy to bother.

        I know that you will not get folk changing paper but interestingly the only papers to exhibit rising circulations are the “I” up 29% and the Sunday Herald. If you give folk what they want, proper news without a slant on it and opinion pieces more in line with your own view of the world they will buy it. If I see someone else buying the Sunday Herald I will be more likely to say hello and enter into conversation as it is likely they same some of my views on the world, similarly if I see someone reading it on a ferry or train. If someone is reading an online publication on a handheld device I will have no idea what they are reading so will be unlikely to recognise someone with sympathetic views. It has been frequently commented on how conversations started due to wearing a particular badge, the same would be true of a paper I’m quite sure.

        I wish you well in your online endeavours and can only hope that the online divide will decrease in time, but fear it wont be happening anytime soon, especially not before the next elections.

        • Thanks Fiona, I’m sort you are disappointed, but that’s my view. It’s important to remember that Bela is just one part of a wider media landscape. If a group has the resources and expertise to launch a daily newspaper I’m sure that would be a good thing, and something we’d get right behind. Our expertise and focus is on doing something different.

    • Bella & Fiona
      Sorry to butt into your convo at a late stage but a potential solution suggests itself. Assuming some form of Community Cafe – Network hub: the cafe can provide the newspaper: electronically.

      Provide cheap e-readers with the ‘free’ coffee 😉

      Perhaps tag the former to prevent them being ‘borrowed’ or -whole hog- request a hefty deposit and allow them off the premises.

      (In a small island community: outright theft, I would suggest, is not going to be a problem!)

      Short of that, should a customer want a hardcopy of a particular article or articles then a printer would solve the problem and be an additional resource for people wanting to run off an application letter or half a dozen c.v.s. As would be the fixed computing facilities of the hub: fax; duplication; scanning plus a sufficiency of computer terminals pro rata with local needs.
      In this way the Commons Cafe would develop into a local resource just as much as the village shop/ post office/ library. More thoughts on this to follow.

      Whilst at Occupy LSX we were fortunate to have access to a full on newspaper printer who could run off 500 odd copies of a free newspaper once a week (ish). However the paper was paralleled by a pdf available online. The latter format covering a much wider (online) readership.

      A newspaper does not need to be a broadsheet or even a tabloid! Indeed a (parish) newsletter is more responsive and easier to get through the letterbox 🙂 And easier to stick up on a noticeboard.

      Synthesis: make individual articles available as printer friendly pdfs. Those wanting a portable hardcopy to share with the digitally impoverished then merely need printing them off.

      Just how you would also include the BTL (below the line) comments is another matter.
      Especially if they go on a bit… like this one.
      CyberHugs brobof
      Occupy the Media (especially BTL 😉
      (Apologies if this is a duplicate my first attempt seemed to get ‘bounced’ by the WP software.)

  20. Horst, Heather A. “Free, Social, and Inclusive: Appropriation and Resistance of New Media Technologies in Brazil.” International Journal of Communications 5 (2011): 437-62. Web. 7 Apr. 2014. Worth a read Bella. Brazil must be the capital of radical-social-media (rsm) developed from the Freire popular empowerment movement.
    Capturing the voice of the powerless must be part of the RSM going forward.

  21. I agree that print should be a low priority, but radio has been used very effectively in places like Mexico, Venezuela, and the Basque Country to get information to masses of people. Maybe a Free Radio Scotland could be considered? Or local versions of low-power FM stations like those used in the US that host Democracy Now.

  22. New book by German journalist reveals CIA infiltration of mainstream journalism in Germany (and presumably in almost every country, guaranteed in the UK). The book “Gekaufte Journalisten” (Bought Journalists) is already at number 7 in the German best-seller lists.

    There’s a short YouTube video on this at: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/09/29/german-journalist-reveals-cia-compromised-western-media/

    Also important: the anti-TTIP campaign grows in strength: http://www.nottip.org.uk/nottip-events-across-the-uk/

  23. Many years ago I was working in the ‘communications business’ when the company I worked with were are asked to run an election campaign for an out of power centrist social -democratic party on a Caribbean island. The appointed political director ‘de bass” was a Caribbean journalist and former news-editor recruited by the CIA to run an ‘independent’ news stream to counter the left wing surge across the region (late 70s). He wrote stories for several media houses and had the power of dollars to have them run. He was a cold war media Washington mercenary.
    But after the defeat of the anti-imp movement with the invasion of Grenada 1983 he lost the work and had to ‘freelance’ in the dirty world of party politics. But he had been well trained and knew the black-arts of election ‘communications’ with its intoxicating mix of absurd lies, grey lies, and manipulation of working journos.
    But he knew above all the power of the dollar (as per the Langley manual) and bought front pages, editorial and op ed pieces and news stories sent across the region with invented leaks and fictional quotes.
    I recognised much of the same in the MSM during our recent repression of the truth managed and manipulated by agencies of the British state and I would suggest agencies of the USA who did not want a weak UK.
    So Bella et al you must know the battalions of media manipulators who are ( and have been ) engaged to obey the British state and its friends in big capital.
    Don’t ever underestimate the level and ubiquity of corruption, deceit and evil in the relationship twixt Parliamentary power, elite power and the press.
    Media fascism is not a fiction. So watch your back Bella. They’ll come for you!

    • Oldbattle makes very good points from his experience..Esp” his last comment…financial security, integrated intelligence, tribal war understanding, no fear or selling out will all contribute in this now mass movement forward for Scotland’s future – all our growing parties will have to and will now stand together for our future. We already have brave hearts..that has never been in question. And must use all caring intelligent, supportive qualities on all levels to educate where it is needed.

  24. Great news Bella – but I’ll with-hold my donation to see if anyone plans a newspaper. I disagree that the printed word is less of a priority. Most young people on public transport pick up the METRO! a daily mail paper, we need to provide an alternative. Most newspapers end up on worplace benches or in offfices for other people to read – again an Indy paper alongside the DR and Sun is crucial. Not sure of the finances but there seem to be lots of freebies about like The Skinny for instance – there are a lot of pro-Indy businesses that would maybe take advertising space. Anyway, just IMO.

  25. “We fail if we become the ‘mainstream media’ replicating their norms and quietists.”<< pot on.

    Excellent piece, shared and bookmarked.

  26. What are you talking about ?
    We in our “free” Western “democracies” have the best media, that money can buy !

  27. A Better Media Is Possible – BTW it’s us, BTW2 you get to pay for it.

    And that is the problem of course – someone has to pay for fulltime staff as you rightly acknowledge. The big issue facing the media – and Rupert Murdoch celebrating the “establishment” getting a bloody nose is your prime example, is that the BBC and indeed the internet give people news & opinion (a LOT of opinion!) for free. How can a professional media outlet, with staff & production, distribution/tech & sales, admin & legal costs compete with a free news aggregator?

    As revenues drop, the journalists (and sub-editors) go and the quality drops further. “Traditional” media is in a death spiral but single issue sites is not the answer IMO as by and large they preach one message to an already converted audience. That “new media” helped shape the Yes campaign is without question and that some over-zealous cyber-campaigners got a little out of control and possibly damaged the message I think must also be recongnised. Many, many People chose to visit “yes” sites & blogs and made their strong feelings known – a “win” – but it was the “silent majority”- and it was a majority of course – that voted No.

    That matter aside you have listed everything that you don’t like about tabloids, in truth in a fairly scattergun manner – seriously? Gitmo? – and you are not alone in this, in fact I concur with most of your points, but the simple truth is people buy the damn things. This was said in reference to America, but I think it is pretty much a universal truth: “No-one went poor underestimating the taste/stupidity of the public”. There is a race to the bottom. The intellectuals and the enlightened may rail against this all they like but at the end of the day The Daily frickin’ Mail is the world’s most visited English language site in the world. The case for the tabloid industry rests.

    But good luck in your endeavours – it will be a step into the unknown – moving from what has effectively been a single issue site to a “proper news” one will be tricky but the world needs more websites employing professional journalists – the free copy supplied by Citizen army of contributors/hobbyists is well and good but the question is always how to monetise this…

  28. Good post, however, it was disappointing that Alex Bell failed to acknowledge the contribution of the fair-minded, sympathetic and balanced newspaper, The Sunday Herald. They stood out from the rest of the media, despite the obvious risks. Bravo to them. Mr Bell should have had the good grace to acknowledge this.
    I had not bought any newspapers for around 4 years now, but I have started buying and reading the Sunday Herald and I am now amongst its growing readership. I am extremely grateful to the contribution they made during the Indy campaign and for their balanced, but very sympathetic approach. They recorded and reported accurately and commented when there was a need to comment.

  29. Mike talks about censorship. ….on a site where an alternative post to the norm on here was scrubbed after a couple of days. Nothing offensive in it whatsoever, only the other fella’s view. Please folks, practice what you preach , you either want balance or you don’t.

  30. What about science? Scientific issues and news get almost zero exposure in the media and when they do the quality is poor. We live in an increasingly technical environment – making new media possible for example – but the important issues raised are poorly understood and little discussed, to our detriment.

  31. All that you have written is great and exciting. I am still concerned, however, about reaching people who do not have computers, and don’t access the internet – they don’t use public libraries and don’t go there to access the internet. They are almost totally manipulated by “News” on the BBC, STV and Sky. Everyone I know in this category voted NO. When I would point out the facts to them they would say, “Oh I don’t understand they things. I’m just voting NO”, “I don’t like Alex Salmond”, “I don’t like Nicola Sturgeon”, “We cannae dae it on oor ain”, “Where’s the money gonae come fae? and “England would punish us if we voted for independence”. It seems to me that we must have television programmes that those people can watch,

    • Hi William, thanks for your comment. We’re concerned about this too, but t’s important t realise that Bella is only one part of a wider media landscape. We will have four print issues year and we will have marketing and promotion – but we can’t do everything. We are part of amid of new media initiatives both on and offline.

  32. Excellent article that taps into the spirit of these extraordinary times giving voice to the potential for re-imagining Our broken society…

    Having read through the comments I am slightly concerned though about the emphasis placed on encouraging a ‘commercial’ aspect to citizen journalism… “There needs to be as much attention to commercial generation of income as there is to editorial.”

    Perhaps I am now toooo cynical to have any belief in the ethics of commercialisation since such a trend seems to invariably pervert society creating a banal, shallow and corrupting ‘reality’ to the world in which we live.

    The money system is a masterful CONstruct of which we are almost wholly enthralled. Yet we live in an age of material saturation were if there was true integrity in the process poverty would have been eliminated decades ago. Our charity shop bins are overflowing with excess, our landfill sites are choking and the environment is becoming ever more denuded… I for one have had quite enough of commercialisation thank you very much.

    I believe that for the integrity of Citizen Journalism to prevail and stand apart from the MSM the commercialisation needs to be discarded. In the polarised world of David and Goliath have faith in the new unfolding paradigm of open source, crowd funding etc… and just to put my money where my mouth is – next stop the Paypal website! If only there was an alternative open source option for transferring funds…

  33. if all the pro-indy groups co-ordinated a regular ad campaign buying regular space in these unionist rags , we can reach out to the no voters and educate them to the fact that the Independence issue has not gone away, many are blissfully unaware of the continued activity and involvement of YES Campaigners.

    I suggest we need to create a public profile and keep the positive indy message in peoples faces.

    In the absence of any new Indy supporting newspapers let’s get smart and use what is there to our advantage. Crowdfund a mass pre-planned Scottish Advertising Campaign similtaneously promoting Bella, Newsnet and Wings in a co-ordinated professional ad campaign.

    We need to make No Voters aware whats happening out there. That the issue hasn’t gone away and that momentum toward Independence is very much alive.

    This isn’t something to rush into it should be pre-planned , advice taken,perhaps even an Ad Agency involved, it;s a big ask one I’m certain the movement can rise to.

    And more importantly an essential means of engaging the wider non social media public.

  34. I don’t know if it’s been suggested before, apologies in advance if it has, but is consideration being given to having some of the articles made available as audio to download. Quite a few folk have difficulty seeing and there are still people about of all ages who for whatever reason cannot read but they still want to be involved and be part of the debate.

    Perhaps a couple of selected articles a week could be turned in an audio version for folk. It would also enable those of us who have internet etc to download them and either burn them to CD to give to folk or put onto ipods for friends and relatives to listen to. It would also be great for listening to in the car as I for one don’t have the radio on anymore whilst traveling.

  35. “The BBC’s failure to challenge Lansley’s healthcare connections”

    http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/bbcs-failure-to-challenge-lansleys.html

Trackbacks

  1. Scotland’s Referendum; the Stolen Nation | Global Research « The Progressive Mind
  2. Scotland’s Referendum; the Stolen Nation | Counter Information
  3. After the Referendum: A Gazetteer for Scottish NGOs | Ric Lander
  4. Crisis in the Scottish media: finding the phoenix | Bright Green
  5. Scottish blogs: what next for alternative media post-referendum? - Axis News
  6. Crisis in the Scottish media: finding the phoenix | Ric Lander

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