We really are small minded and parochial, aren’t we? You’d certainly think so from reading the daily papers. The sense of dismay expressed in the Scotsman splash story (Hauliers Face Disaster As Bridge Re-opens to Cars) on the early reopening of the Forth Road Bridge failed to capture the relief and delight at the great work done by the bridge maintenance teams. The concerns of the hauliers are entirely relevant but to allow a lobby organisation spokesman to dictate a paper’s line on an important national story was a failure of judgement.
Contrast the grudging line of the Scotsman with the balanced approach of those most directly affected – the Fifers. Here’s the Dunfermline Press – Fife Council Welcomes Re-opening of Forth Bridge But Ban on HGVs ‘Frustrating’. http://www.dunfermlinepress.com/news/14161865.Bridge_re_opening_is__great_Christmas_present_/
That’s surely more accurate and reflects the public attitude. The council leader is measured and sensible, congratulating all concerned but worried too on behalf of businesses.
It’s almost as if the Scotsman was following an agenda which it was determined to hold onto no matter what happened so that even the good news of an early, if partial, re-opening had to be presented in a negative light.
So it was with the Herald which ran a line ridiculing Alex Salmond apparently for daring to enter the world of international affairs. Salmond Accused of Grandstanding…http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14162324.Salmond_accused_of_grandstanding_following_his_trip_to_Tehran/
It was one of those Who Does He Think He Is articles that tells you more about the organisation that prints it than the man it’s written about. It tells you the Herald has no respect for it’s most successful politician of the modern age, gives little credence to either of the parliaments he sits in and implicitly mocks our own country as a backwater undeserving of respect. What kind of self-loathing leads a journalist to headline an article on international diplomacy with cheap opposition jibes about self-aggrandisement? A strap line contrasting with the real headline would work just as well. But to make the sneer the main point of the story is entirely inappropriate. Salmond was representing Scotland and our national interest in a mission with delicate overtones because of the recent re-emergence of Iran as a cooperative player in the international debate. (I doubt it could have occurred without Foreign Office approval with Washington copied in) Indeed it makes you wonder if it was purely a bilateral partnership initiative at all. To see it purely in the context of the Holyrood village demeans not Salmond but the Herald. It looks parochial, perhaps fitting for a paper that no longer describes itself as a national for circulation purposes.
The BBC seems afflicted by the same disease of imagining that an event has no news value unless it is first contradicted by an opponent which in turns forms the basis of the coverage. Little wonder Jackie Baillie is an ever-present in the news. It is always informative to know what opponents think – in this case that they are small-minded with no real argument – but just because a spokesman makes an objection it doesn’t constitute the main point of a news story. The feeling is that the journalists are caught in the tramlines of a fixed view – get story, get contrasting spin and headline it.
It’s the same mindset that led to headlines this week on the TNS opinion poll findings showing the SNP up again – ‘despite the troubles over the bridge.’ They suggested there was no dispute that the SNP was in trouble over the closure whereas in fact there is no evidence that the wider population remotely blamed the government. That was the opposition and the media’s own instinctive response but one I doubt was shared across the country. Again, it’s myopic and mean and fails to reflect truly the view of Scots. Another way of writing the story was to say: SNP support up despite anti-nationalist campaign by the media. Do either the opposition or the media ever ask themselves if this relentless one-sided pandering to knee-jerk criticism does them any good? Their sole conclusion appears to be that the country is hypnotised into dumb obedience. That’ll explain it then.
I complain because I’d like to see a well-resourced and effective media, but to be honest, I believe the shallow and negative reporting works in favour of the nationalist cause. Therefore my dismay is countered by the optimism of knowing that the ultimate objective of independence is best served by keeping the media and the dim opposition exactly as they are – unnecessarily insular and too often petty.by