Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Media’

Shining a Spotlight on Power in the Darkness in Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, April 29th 2016

A few months ago I watched the award-winning film ‘Spotlight’ – the story of the ‘Boston Globe’s’ investigative unit of the same name that examined allegations of Catholic Church sexual abuse.

Although set in Boston in 2001 the film has a linear story – and old-fashioned feel. This is reinforced by its serious subject matter and straightforward approach that helped it win several Oscars this year, including for best film.

I couldn’t help but be moved by the immediate story the film conveyed, and also to think of its relevance to Scotland. Where have been our ‘Spotlights’ ? Who has systematically shone light on abuses of power, and do most of us even care that most power is exercising in the dark – far from scrutiny?

These thoughts returned when I attended The Ferret’s first ever conference in Glasgow last weekend. Set up by Peter Geoghegan, Rob Edwards, Rachel Hamada and Billy Briggs this is Scotland’s first on-line investigative journalist resource. It has already in a few months broken several stories – including Police in Scotland violating secrecy laws with CCTV, and SNP links to a fracking company – and been nominated for UK media awards. Read the rest of this entry »

The Herald and Rangers FC:

Noise annoys and listening for the Sounds of Silence

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 3rd 2016

A series of illuminating conflicts in the last week – the Graham Spiers sacking from ‘The Herald’ and the J.K. Rowling/Natalie McGarry argument on twitter – show something revealing about modern Scotland.

Spiers sacking from the paper, along with Angela Haggerty’s from the ‘Sunday Herald’, brought up numerous issues. One immediate issue was where power lay in the newspaper group – with open disagreement emerging between ‘The Herald’ and ‘Sunday Herald’ editors. More fundamentally it touched upon the legacy of ‘The Herald’ as one of the traditional bastions of unionist establishment Scotland, and the continued toxic issue of Rangers FC.

The Rowling/McGarry case saw the SNP MP challenge Rowling to condemn the anonymous twitter account of ‘Brian Spanner’ (who has a track record of online abuse) who the author had called a ‘good man’ for donating to her charity. Rowling stood her ground and asked McGarry to show where she had ever colluded or condoned any misogynist or hateful tweet. No answer came from McGarry who went silent and then apologised. Read the rest of this entry »

The Last Days of the Old BBC Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 20th 2016

These are turbulent times for the BBC. The patrician age of benign liberal paternalism and enlightened elites knowing what is best for us, unquestioned and unchallenged, have long since passed.

We have now swung to the other end of the spectrum. Not a day seems to go by without the BBC being criticised from somewhere. The ‘Daily Mail’, ‘Daily Telegraph’ and Murdoch press conduct a never-ending war undermining the Beeb’s status – questioning the legitimacy of the licence fee and what they see as its dominant market position.

The toxic right want to destroy the BBC, but the left stopped being enamoured decades ago, and in Scotland all of this is added to by the experience of the indyref. Many respected voices feel that the BBC is shortchanging Scotland, and offering up an inferior service.

BBC Scotland’s problems have historical and cultural roots. The origins of a specific Scottish service were found in an age long disappeared. When the BBC high heid yins decided to allow a Broadcasting Council for Scotland in 1953 it was stacked with the great and good and chaired by the Lord Clydesmuir, formerly John Colville, unionist Secretary of State for Scotland from 1938-40. Read the rest of this entry »

Putting the Scotland into BBC Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 17th 2016

It has been a tough few years for the BBC – with challenges from every direction, and potshots and criticism from every quarter.

This week Tony Hall, BBC’s head, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament alongside BBC Scotland boss Ken MacQuarrie.

Hall set out the BBC stall. Despite cuts, a range of digital possibilities and platforms were unveiled centred on the iplayer. MacQuarrie answered questions on BBC Scotland’s leaked plan for a new Scottish channel which he said ‘was never a plan’, but a set of brainstorming meetings and emails.

The BBC is in crisis. It is regularly shot at by right-wing opinion. It has long infuriated the left, and it didn’t have a good independence referendum, alienating a whole swathe of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

A Revolution is coming to BBC Scotland – let’s seize it and make it happen

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Herald, September 6th 2015

The BBC is one of the key institutions of Scotland and the UK. It arouses passion in many forms: identification, reverence for some of its past glories, fury at current and historic shortcomings. These can come from anywhere on the political spectrum.

In Scotland, many views of the broadcaster have become interwoven with how it covered the independence referendum. No-one really thinks the BBC had a good campaign. This unleashed allegations of bias, demonstrations at the BBC, and a sparring match between Alex Salmond and the BBC’s former political editor Nick Robinson.

All this has left a BBC shaken, stirred, and unsure which way to turn, while a large section of Scotland feels shortchanged and wants reform. To understand and address these feelings we need to see the referendum and its aftermath as part of a much bigger picture.

The BBC and BBC Scotland come from, and to this day are rooted in, a very different UK and Scotland. The BBC’s origins in the 1920s were as a patrician, elite-driven organisation whose motto – “Nation shall speak peace unto nation”, adopted in 1927 – showed that it saw itself as benignly speaking down to the world, at home and abroad, and enlightening it. It was also clear that “the nation” in question was Britain, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland seen as mere regions or outposts. Read the rest of this entry »