BBC Scotland blogs open for business – UK wide

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
The luxury, and joy, of writing for Newsnet Scotland is that it affords one the opportunity to say things that wouldn’t be published on any other widely read Scottish news forum.
 
Widely read?  Well yes, around 75,000 unique visitors per month is pretty wide.  Not as widely read as say the Scotsman, or the Herald – and certainly not more widely read than the BBC, but respectable nonetheless.

By G.A.Ponsonby
 
The luxury, and joy, of writing for Newsnet Scotland is that it affords one the opportunity to say things that wouldn’t be published on any other widely read Scottish news forum.
 
Widely read?  Well yes, around 75,000 unique visitors per month is pretty wide.  Not as widely read as say the Scotsman, or the Herald – and certainly not more widely read than the BBC, but respectable nonetheless.

The BBC, even in Scotland, can command an online audience of millions.  Yesterday we witnessed this intra-UK span when BBC Scotland online went UK wide – or at least part of it did.

The months long closing down of Scottish political blogs temporarily ended yesterday when Brian Taylor’s cyber-musings were opened up to the great unwashed.  Scotland re-joined the 21st century as BBC Scotland’s Political Editor (pictured) allowed opinion from those of us who still yearn for the chance to challenge the views of our ‘betters’.

The reason for the lifting of the ‘tartan petticoat’ was the return of the Scottish Parliament and the centre-piece that is the independence referendum, or as Brian Taylor described it “Scotland’s most important decision in 300 years”.

In keeping with BBC Scotland tradition, there was one quote from First Minister Alex Salmond and four from pro-Union politicians – including Lib Dem Secretary of Scotland Michael Moore, on Mr Taylor’s blog.  Surprisingly, there appeared nothing from the pro-independence Green party.

However, as with all things BBC and Pacific Quay, there was a twist.  Taylor’s blog was not just available for Scottish online posts, but was made available across the UK.

The result of course is that the views of people living in Scotland were diluted as comments from across the rest of the UK dominated.  Worse, some comments that highlighted the situation regarding the closing down of online debate in Scotland were removed by BBC moderators.

Perhaps coincidence, but at the time of writing this piece there were five ‘Editor’s Picks’ on the blog, four that could be construed as anti-independence and one pro-indy.

Not all at the UK wide BBC is suspect though.  The UK News at Ten last night contained an item on the SNP legislature and allowed one broadcast comment each from pro-independence leaders and pro-Union leaders alike – now that’s balance.  Sadly it was back to normal by the time Newsnight Scotland was aired, with clips giving a 3 to 1 in favour of Unionists and 2 to 1 in the subsequent studio debate.

Once again it’s the BBC’s Scottish franchise that’s in the spotlight.  In the week that saw BBC Scotland face criticism from respected Historian Tom Devine over the quality of its output and continued constructive criticism from journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch over the male dominated guest list at Pacific Quay, one would think that those in charge of the Glasgow HQ would by now appreciate the need to address the very clear failings that continue to plague the Scottish franchise.

A full re-opening up of the Scottish political and business blogs would be a start.