Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Media’

BBC and STV are Falling Short in Scotland’s Great Debate

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 5th 2014

The BBC and STV are failing the people of Scotland in their coverage of the independence referendum, despite the best attempts of some of the many talented journalists still in these organisations. The reasons for this are deep-seated: historic, structural, and about the failure of management to lead, be bold and creative.

The independence debate could not have come at a worse time for the BBC and STV. It caught both bodies ill-prepared, under-resourced, and basically, not taking Scotland or Scottish politics that seriously.

It never used to be like this. Turn back to the end of the 1980s and early 1990s and both BBC and STV had a reputation for doing news and current affairs well. The early evening news programmes, ‘Reporting Scotland’ and ‘Scotland Today’ (the precursor to ‘STV News at Six’), were seen across the UK as serious, authoritative and popular. Read the rest of this entry »

A Memo to James Naughtie on his Return to Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 10th 2013

Dear Jim,

It has come to my attention that you planning to move north to cover the independence referendum, admittedly for only two days a week.

Since you last worked in Scotland in 1977 a lot has altered that you might find at first a bit bewildering. Scotland has changed, not entirely in ways immediately apparent or straightforward. Some institutions which have the same names as 36 years ago have changed, nearly totally out of recognition. New bodies and different ways of things of doing things have emerged.

To save you time and reading, considering that you are only here two days a week, here is a short guide to what’s changed and what’s not changed, and how to make some sense of the public life of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

The Independence Debate is not a Non-Event but Changing Scotland

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, September 28th 2013

How often have you heard it said: the independence referendum is a non-event and as boring as paint drying?

This has become the uncontested view of part of mainstream Scotland and many in public life and the media. Last week ‘Newsnight Scotland’ anchor Gordon Brewer stated as fact that the whole thing was ‘dull as dishwater’, while others regularly pronounce that it is ‘turning off voters’, ‘deadening’ and ‘never-ending’.

It is a cliché, caricature and articulating a world-weary, cynical, Paxmanesque attitude of condescension. It also just happens to be deeply and utterly wrong.

Interestingly, this ‘its all boring’ perspective hasn’t learned from the recent past. Two years ago in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election campaign a chorus of the mainstream media, often the same people as today, called the whole thing predicable and dull with Alf Young dismissing it as ‘the biggest yawn in living memory’ and ‘depressing’. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s comforting stories and the missing voices of public life

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 24th 2013

Scotland in its politics, culture and sense of its identity likes to tell itself a comforting story.

There was once a Labour Scotland optimistic story of lifting working people up, and now there is a Nationalist account about the possibilities of independence. There is even a positive pro-union version that has not been fully articulated in public for many years.

All of these are partial accounts, and one of the many challenges they face is the continued existence of negative stories which emphasise that we are too small, too poor, too divided, and above all, just too Scottish, to do anything about changing our country.

One of the positive accounts of modern Scotland which has risen in recent years has been the richness of artistic and cultural Scotland. This was witnessed in the recent Creative Scotland stramash which saw its Chief Executive Andrew Dixon shown the door. An organised group of artists and cultural figures saw themselves as defending the interests of a community and a set of inclusive, enlightened values. Read the rest of this entry »

Yes to a Different Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, September 18th 2013

One year to the Scottish independence referendum.

A historic milestone. A host of mainstream media programmes, discussions and items yesterday and today are marking it.

One of the most important was ‘Newsnight’s’ Berwick upon Tweed programme on Tuesday broadcast to a British wide audience which looked as though it was filmed in the ‘Great British Bake Off’ tent!

The programme was revealing and fascinating, from Kirsty Wark’s conspicuous slips showing her bias, to Margaret Curran, Shadow Secretary of State’s constant reciting of the word ‘separation’ in her opening remarks. But at significant points the discussion pointed towards a tone and content which is seldom present in most mainstream media discussions – namely, the opening up of a space exploring the notion of a different Scotland and how this could manifest itself. Read the rest of this entry »