Sunday, 30 March 2014

Not in the paper review - March

Welcome to the third of our monthly series looking back at the stories which the main stream media in Scotland didn't offer much attention to, and comparing them to those that hit the front pages.

No chance of a referendum?
No, not the referendum on Scottish Independence, but the 2017 vote being promised by Prime Minister David Cameron.

According to the Secretary of State 'for' Scotland, Alistair Carmichael, there is " question of there being a referendum [on EU membership]. There is no mechanism for the Conservatives to deliver a referendum in 2017. That is the hard political fact." Farmers Guardian, 18th of March 2014

We're really not sure where to start: do we highlight that Mr Carmichael is calling his own boss a liar and that we can't trust the false promises of a desperate UK Prime Minister, or focus on the utterly ridiculous notion that Westminster cannot host a referendum.

But the biggest question is where is the scrutiny from the media? Why, when EU membership is such an important subject in England prior to the upcoming European Elections, are so few of the media outlets reporting this claim? Why wasn't Mr Carmichael being chased by reporters for a response? Is it because this embarrasses the Westminster establishment which wants to be all scares to all people?
At least Mr Carmichael is confirming two very important facts: for the people of Scotland to get what we want, we need the powers of independence, and, of course, you can't trust anything that comes out of Westminster.
Other stories which didn't make it
Whilst another 'Standard' was making the headlines, Credit Rating Agency Standard and Poor were giving their assessment on the credit worthiness of an independent Scotland. Their conclusion:
The BBC, alongside the rest of the print media, didn't consider this to be very relevant, and offered minimal coverage. This lack of attention couldn't be because it directly contradicted Westminster MP Danny Alexander's claim in January that Scots would face a £5,200 hike in mortgages due to higher borrowing costs, could it?

There was a story which had everything a newsroom could possibly want: a radiation leak which was kept secret from the public. Unfortunately for the people of Scotland, this story embarrasses Westminster and thus won't feature prominently in the media.

Another nuclear story, this time in Plymouth when a torpedo was fired into a nuclear submarine dockyard.
"Workers watched in disbelief as the tube-shaped projectile flew through the air before blasting a hole in a security fence and slamming into a storage container." Telegraph, 14th of March 2014
At least this latest, but certainly not isolated, example of nuclear incompetancy wasn't kept secret from the people who live nearby.

Finally, the funding of the Scottish Parliament was cut in the budget. So of course, the main headline in on the BBC Scotland website was: Chancellor freezes duty of Scotch whisky. Sigh...

And finally, something that did partly manage to get into a few of the papers! Adverts for online website Wings over Scotland that featured on the Glasgow Subway system were pulled by SPT (or perhaps by advertising agency Primesite). At the time of writing no reason that doesn't fall apart at even basic scrutiny has been offered.

Glance over the BBC
The third largest party in Scotland held it's annual conference. It's guest speaker was the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, and it was given massive coverage on the BBC and other Main Stream Media outlets. However, throughout March, there were other large gatherings taking place. Radical Independence attracted a huge crowd to protest outside the Tory Party (Scotlandshire branch) conference and encouraged over 80 people to their second mass canvassing event in Drumchapel. For some reason, the BBC didn't want to offer the same degree of coverage to these.
The BBC did manage to cover town hall meetings accross Scotland although...
I asked people as they filed out the door if the [Yes] meeting had helped.
"No, not really," came the reply from one man. "It was good to hear other people's point of view, but it was basically a propaganda meeting. It would be good if the 'No' and the 'Yes' campaigns could get on the same platform and come to towns."
But what the reporter didn't explain was why the two campaigns aren't having more public debates:
"I don’t think that there is a gaping hole in the debate market that we need to fill. I don’t really see the need for us to have a specific debate organised by the campaigns when there are so many debates organised by third parties which both campaigns are participating in." Rob Shorthouse, no campaign director of communications in response to a proposed debate in Glasgow with Yes Scotland.
The impression given by the BBC was that there were many meetings being held by both sides, with Yes perhaps offering more, yet this is to massively undersell the chasm between the two camps. Wings over Scotland has provided numerous articles which show the number of Yes and no activists, as well as the reality of no campaign events.
Finally (for this month) we had the hard hitting and vitally important "Cows connected to web to boost milk" story featuring on the BBC Scotland News website. We know this was important because it was placed above "Scots constitution to be published". It even got it's own picture!

Got Impartiality? - note this was not the picture the BBC used
On an entirely separate note, we're sure that the news coverage offered the BBC has not, in any way, shape or form, been influenced by the fact that a 'Yes' vote is likely to cost the BBC £193 million every year.
Glance over the papers
Embarrassing headline of the month goes to the Mirror with: 'True Brit tennis ace Andy Murray has opposed Scottish independence without actually saying "Vote No".' It defies logic (at least logic in the conventional sense: the notion that someone going out of their way to not give an opinion means that they are actually giving an opinion by not giving an opinion for or against what they had been asked to give an opinion head hurts) in a way that few can hope to achieve. It even goes against what the paper has claimed in the past...
"All this "True Brit" stuff about Murray is true tosh. Come on! Murray is a true Scot and he is proud of it." Mirror newspaper, 30th of June 2008
'True Brit' or not 'true brit', I guess it depends on when you win Wimbledon!
The Press In-Action
This is a new section which looks at some of our favourite stories on-line which look at media bias in Scotland. If you know any good blogs that look at media bias, then please leave a comment and we'll check them out!
Munguin's Republic - In most countries, the press would brag about this...
Newsnet Scotland - Will the real No campaign please stand up?
BBC presenter Andrew Marr accused of breaking guidelines on referendum coverage
A week in the life of Reporting Scotland Fairness in February and The Dirty Dozen - The case against BBC Scotland
Wings over Scotland - Double Standards and What you didn't read this week
Business for Scotland - 11 good news stories for Yes

Also, happy mothers day! If you are a mum that supports independence (and let's face it, who doesn't like the idea of their kids growing up and leaving home one day!) then Mothers for Change is definitely worth a few moments of your time. They have great videos and features and seem a really friendly bunch.

Join us again for our next 'not in the paper' review in April!
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