The reclamation of Scotland’s independence is inevitable. Until then, there will be a very difficult time ahead for the whole Yes movement.
Broadcasting remains a UK Government reserved matter to stymie or prevent change and dilute any content deemed supportive of self-determination in Scotland. For a country of 5.4 million people, it is concerning and perhaps globally unique that Scotland is prevented from providing its own broadcasting licenses and outlets; incredulous in this era of communications technology.
Leading up to the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, it was difficult to find content that was not pro-union. There were a few exceptions.
From an early point, I watched Politics Scot, produced by David Hooks @PoliticsScot on YouTube. I caught up with David yesterday and asked him what he saw as key to the new campaign, in relation to media communications. He’s a busy guy and I hope he can relaunch his news vlogs soon. Meanwhile, he kindly provided me with a few words:
“New media channels are hugely important, especially when it comes to a younger audience. But until there is a greater parity of positive voices for independence in the print and news mainstream media we will find it difficult to reach older voters.”
Another long-standing content provider is Jason Michael @Jeggit. Jason is a journalist and blogger based in Dublin. He’s a contributor to iScot Magazine and author of the Random Public Journal. He infuriates me often, that said, I won’t deny he is a highly-committed asset to the Yes movement, in a similar way to veteran blogger Peter A. Bell. Peter and Jason are the ‘Marmite’ duo of the Yes campaign! They are both passionate agitators.
Today, in Scotland, with the exception of the National Newspaper, there is still no mainstream media presence presented from an objective Scottish viewpoint.
Basically, all other content is either ignorant of the independence movement or relentlessly against it. The mainstream media in Scotland does not mirror Scottish society. TV and print coverage appears very negative. On a daily basis programming and articles flood the genre with SNP bad, Scottish Government bad, Scottish Parliament bad and Scotland in general bad content. They confuse and conflate the SNP with the wider Yes movement.
As we move through this ‘soft-launch’ period of a new independence campaign, we must reflect and learn lessons from 2012-2014.
The key point is communications:internal and external. A dynamic, responsive and proactive movement of new media providers is critical to independence. The following points jumped out at me as worth reflecting on:
Question: Did SNP maximise its communications with the wider Yes movement?
Question: Did the wider Yes movement communicate effectively and responsibly share ideas, information and resources?
Question: Was the bias and exclusionary nature of mainstream media properly identified as a risk threat and fully exposed, discussed and mitigated?
Question: Was the emerging new media (social networking, volunteers and streaming channels) used and supported fully?
Question: Was the Yes side’s key messages clear, engaging, inspiring and spread wisely?
Question: What impact did the Vow have in the last few day’s of campaigning?
Question: What impact did the single issue of Scotland’s currency have on the outcome of the referendum?
Question: Mainstream media took control of the narrative across the campaign period and especially in the last few weeks, what were the consequences?
These questions can be addressed in full, if sufficient creative Scots use all available communication technologies and target a wider audience than previously. No doubt the Vow will return, dressed as some flavour of Federalism. More false promises will be made by the UK Government, they know this time independence will win, unless they intervene in dark ways.
Of course new media content has expanded in the past 5-6 years. Unfortunately, some additional creative thinking is still needed to compete with the British nationalist mainstream media, and to solve the issue of delivering independence-friendly content to more people in Scotland, via easily accessible media channels.
The new media in Scotland, provided locally by grass-root activists, has no government or private backing. In the main, content providers are volunteers working for no money, or perhaps basic travel expenses, or at best in receipt of minimal donations, through self-generated crowd funders.
New media content provision is crucial to the independence movement and we all need to get behind the organisers to help them develop and thrive.
We need to reflect on the above communications questions and assess to what extent, as a movement, we are answering them now and in future months.
Some providers are arguably commercially viable, such as Wings Over Scotland and the Wee Ginger Dug, while most others are fighting hard to exist and continue. In my opinion, iScot Magazine is an excellent read and stands out anywhere, in terms of content interest and quality. It looks stunning too.
You can help change how we consume news and other Scottish centric content. We can increase or interest and consumption of our new media and we need to do it in vast numbers, so that independence marches, gatherings, events and messaging content is promoted widely and embedded in our communications culture, as normal, dominant and preferred.
Back in the day, the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) emerged as the stakeholder organisation for all those who wish to see Scotland become an independent country. SIC brings together all the independence supporting political parties, independence organisations and grass-roots groups.
In recent weeks, SIC set up a new limited company called Voices for Scotland. Voices for Scotland is a non-profit civic organisation campaigning for Scottish independence. Voices for Scotland offers an exciting new approach and will play an important part in the new independence campaign. It will not replace any existing groups but will instead add a wider scope by providing a national campaign organisation, which is exclusively focused on reaching and talking to undecided and persuadable voters in Scotland, while supporting existing and emerging independence groups with materials, ideas and reassurance.
Voices for Scotland will also run events, place articles in local media, develop campaigns and optimistic and positive messages about Scotland’s future.
The Scottish Independence Foundation (SIF) collaborates with and helps financially underpin the Scottish Independence Convention. SIF also relies on public donations and provides financial support to the independence campaign, channelling limited funds into any projects that can benefit the movement. SIF does a great job but cannot match the British establishment and their vast compliant media chums.
I have no sympathy whatsoever for the traditional/historic media content providers, they have an adult choice: adapt to reflect that a majority of people in Scotland are supporting our return to recognised statehood and self-determinism, or continue in their steady and certain demise.
As our main political wing, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has an essential role to play in terms of messaging and communications. It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to state that its media and communications output is not robust, clear and fast enough to counter the lies, untruths and deception provided daily in Scotland by the British Nationalist political parties and their loyal media corps.
I hope the SNP are going to address this critical gap soon and come out fighting, fast and determined from the get go.
In general terms new media viewing and reading figures are still disappointingly low. Word of mouth is a slow way of building up these figures. With an increasing amount of Scots switching off the BBC and cancelling their TV licenses, there is surely an emerging requirement and demand for new Scottish content?
I make a plea to everyone reading this article, please give the following links a go.
Find more content yourself and share it widely. Get into the habit of checking content regularly, bookmark these links, leave comments and add suggestions. Please try your very best to show the providers you are watching, listening and reading.
If you have skills and experience that can support or add value to content delivery, then I reckon you can get in touch direct and offer to help, in any way you can manage. It really is a situation of use it or lose it for most of these folks.
If you can spare a pound here and there, no amount is too little when donated to appropriate crowd funders.
I hope you can identify which content providers, groups and organisations interest you.
As Kevin Gibney from Independence Live says, ‘Don’t hate the media, become the media!’
As the new independence campaign progresses, I hope we can expand to reach all our potential voters. Meantime, the following list, which is not definitive, summarizes the independence supporting, indy-friendly or Scotland-centric content providers I continue to click on regularly:
Lesley Riddoch Podcast & articles (@LesleyRiddoch): www.rqs.libsyn.com & www.lesleyriddoch.com
Rev. Stuart Campbell(@WingsScotland): www.wingsoverscotland.com
Phantom Power Films (includes Lesley Riddoch Nations’ trilogy and Journeys to Yes): www.phantom-power-films.scot
The National newspaper (includes podcasts): www.thenational.scot
Broadcasting Scotland: www.broadcastingscotland.scot
Independence Live: www.independencelive.net
IndyLive.Radio: www.indylive.radio (includes podcasts from English for Yes, and IndyPram)
Wee Ginger Dug (and Paul Cavanagh): www.weegingerdug.wordpress.com & www.thenational.scot/comment/podcasts
Barrhead Boy (blogs and weekly podcasts: www.barrheadboy.com
IndyCar Gordon Ross (daily news and views): https://youtu.be/E3TwobTeqWY
Jason Michael McCann (@Jeggit): www.randompublicjournal.com
Peter A. Bell (@BerthanPete): www.peterabell.blog
David Hooks (@PoliticsScot): www.politicsscotland.scot
Voices for Scotland: www.voicesforscotland.net
Scottish Independence Foundation (funding for Yes): www.sif.scot
Scottish Independence Convention (SIC): www.independenceconvention.scot
iScot Magazine: www.iscot.scot
By Dougie Bendall