Home > Uncategorized > Is the media failing Scottish Politics?

Is the media failing Scottish Politics?


Tavish Scott wrote a piece in the Scotsman yesterday. Towards the end he says:

Despite protestations to the contrary from BBC Scotland and STV, the average Scots voter’s perspective on politics is massively influenced by “big” news.

The national 10pm bulletins punch serious holes in Scots’ understanding of what’s devolved and reserved.

This is absolutely true. Personally, I know whats devolved and reserved but there are probably areas where I’m a little fuzzy. My parents who are not as political as me and people in Ayr and the rest of Scotland, have little understanding of what is devolved and what is reserved. They know vaguely what the Scottish Government is doing but the majority of policies we hear about going through the Scottish parliament aren’t seen as important to most people in Scotland.

On 3 of the main devolved issues: health, education and law & order – I know far more about what the coalition is doing with regard to these issues than I do my own government.

In my opinion, part of the problem is the structure of UK media. The structure of the media in the UK reflects that of the devolution settlement in that you have:

  • UK/English News or “National” news. Covering any news of UK or English interest so very little of the regions. The amount of news covering the devolved issues is incredible. Most of the coverage in recent months have covered the coalitions plans for education, (higher education funding, early years education and free schools) health (NHS reforms in all its gory details- n.b. gory refers to all the political fighting about it), Law & Order (how many English police are being cut as a result of the cuts, the English riots in full, coalition and Miliband’s law & order response to the riots). These are all devolved issues, yet they take up a significant proportion of the UK news.
  • Scottish/Welsh/NI national news or should that be local national news in order to distinguish from UK national. Talks about our national news with much less fanfare than in the UK newsroom. In Scotland the main news story seems to be the Edinburgh Trams project and the war going on between the SNP in government and the SNP councillors in the SNP/LibDem Edinburgh council coalition.
  • English regional news which is much the same as the Scottish/Wales/NI national news.
I believe that because the devolved issues are bigged up in the “UK national” news and Scottish news is rarely on these issues, maybe they are not as hotly debated in the Scottish parliament. Whatever the reason, Scottish news on the “big issues” rarely reach Scottish voters and this needs to change. Unfortunately, Scotland doesn’t have the power to change it so the question is will Jeremy Hunt, the Culture secretary listen?
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