Sunday, 13 September 2009
I am currently reading Nick Davies 'Flat Earth News' which I eventually got round to purchasing having been to see him talk at last years Edinburgh Book Festival. What an insight into the Media this had allowed. I am a natural cynic so will often view claims in newspapers with an element of scepticism. I was perhaps giving the press too much credit. This makes me wonder about the media and their responsibility in a democracy. One of the key features of a democratic society is a free press. Is our press really free though? It is widely accepted that New Labour's pro-European stance has been muted by pressure from Murdoch in return for his news outlets support. And what about responsibility? The media furore surrounding swine flu was irresponsible reporting. Cheap, shock tactics aimed at maximising circulation. Davies highlights the Y2K bug in the first chapter of his book which saw countries businesses and individuals spend millions spurred on by the media in order to prevent an event which was blown out of all proportion - by the media.
If we cannot trust the media to report accurately then who are we as citizens supposed to trust and how are we expected to make informed choices? The internet undoubtedly has had a massive impact on how we gain and spread information but can we rely on it solely either? If the internet is to replace the traditional newspaper then at what cost? I have asked more questions than I can answer here but I am increasingly frustrated with journalism, media hype and bias in the UK and I want to know what the solution is! Perhaps I am viewing the role of the media incorrectly. Perhaps I should not view it as having a responsibility but more as a means of generating revenue, another cog in the wheel of our capitalist society. Perhaps I even overestimate the influence that the media has on people - after all the SNP are doing well despite overwhelming adverse media coverage. I keep thinking back though to those ideas about democracy and what differentiates our democratic government from dictatorship and I cannot help thinking that I have put too much faith in the idea of a free press.
Monday, 7 September 2009
A great weekend for Scottish sport. Do you think if Scotland make it to South Africa the 'yes' vote will be in the bag?
Of course it could all be over by mid-week but I am an optimist so I am expecting a Grand Slam win & a World Cup holiday come June!
Sunday, 6 September 2009
So, Alex Salmond outlined his plans for a referendum on Independence this week and so the unionist parties have started to sweat and the media which supports them have sharpened their pencils and are preparing to report whatever their masters tell them, The Sunday Times are already well ahead of the game.
I see this in many ways as a win win situation for the Scottish Government and Alex Salmond. If the Unionist parties oppose a referendum (which at the moment they seem more inclined to do) then Salmond plays the democracy card. If they accept the referendum then independence question will be put to the public vote and if the SNP are sensible this will include a suggestion of greater fiscal autonomy and power for the Scottish Parliament. I, for one, would be willing to accept incremental baby steps on the road to independence. I sense, however, that there is a growing confidence and belief in this country, which is not necessarily reflected in opinion polls and newspaper editorials, that Scotland is on the road to independence. More and more young people, sense and support that inevitability. There can be no harm in Scotland being polled on this issue. Even if the independence movement fails it will awaken Scotland up to the actuality of the situation and it will force a debate on some of the bigger issues here and in England. The SNP will be in the enviable position of being the ‘aye we can’ party - and in this Obama age of positive thinking and building of self-esteem people will be encouraged to agree with them. The unionists on the other hand will be forced to tell the Scottish people that ‘no you can’t’ in all its subtle forms. We will be told that we are not financially stable enough, we are not big enough, that we rely on the kindness of the union blah blah blah.
I think it was interesting that in the YouGov poll commissioned by the SNP this week support for them over the Megrahi affair was now at equal pegging. The fact is that the Scottish people hate to be told what they cannot do and as adverse media coverage and supposed international criticism grew so did Scottish support for the decision. It is the unionists that should be confident after all the polls all suggest a majority being against Independence. But, it is like being 1- nil up in a home European cup game with the away result at 0-0. You are in control but as the other team keep pushing up the park and the minutes tick away you become more nervous knowing that if they score and it ends up a draw you will be the losers.
There is an excellent article by Gerry Hassan on the issue of why a referendum should happen and the consequences of it for the UK.