Newsnet Scotland launches Referendum 2014 Appeal


  On March 2010 Newsnet Scotland dot com was launched.  No funds to speak of, no media promotion and no helpful contacts within Scotland’s journalistic community to assist in those lonely early days.  It was citizen journalism in the raw.
Costs, such as they were, were borne from the pockets of the people who set the site up.  Articles were written by those same volunteers – supplemented by the kind generosity of Kenneth Roy of the Scottish Review who allowed us to re-publish his own work.

An independence referendum was a pipe-dream and the best that pro-independence campaigners could hope for was a slow monotonous grind towards more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

We persevered and slowly the site began to attract visitors.  We spoke their language, we articulated many of their own thoughts and we challenged the traditional media view of Scotland.

We also took on the BBC and exposed an institutionalised malaise that manifested itself in broacasts which regularly appeared to favour pro-Union parties, particularly Labour.  The BBC responded by banning all mention of Newsnet Scotland.

Things have moved on considerably since then and an independence referendum will now take place next year.

We are now visited by 120,000 people each month, visits per day run at around 12,000 and our page views run into millions.  Quite incredible figures for those of us who remember the day of the first launch, the first ever article and the first ever comment posted beneath an article.

Newsnet Scotland is no longer banned by BBC Scotland and we often receive a brief mention on Radio Scotland’s Sunday Headlines show.

This though masks a reality we are all too aware of, and that is our influence on the independence referendum will be marginal at best.  Even with 120,000 people visiting the site, it is unlikely that Newsnet Scotland will have any significant impact on the outcome.

So, what do we do about this?

Our answer is to launch a fund raising appeal.  This appeal aims to raise an ambitious forty thousand pounds in just 45 days.  The appeal uses crowd sourcing in order to achieve this goal.

There’s nothing radical or new in this approach and other campaigns and websites are using similar techniques.  Newsnet Scotland has of course no right to expect people to favour our fund raising appeal over others, but notwithstanding other ‘rival’ appeals also seeking financial backing from a limited resource, we believe our goal is achievable.

Newsnet Scotland’s crowdsourcing appeal starts from as little as one pound.  To put our target into perspective, if every person who visits this site in a month made just one minimum donation each, then Newsnet Scotland would raise £120,000 in one month.

We believe that Newsnet Scotland has a distinct advantage over other sites in that we are the only site that publishes news stories each and every day.

This week Newsnet Scotland has focused on the Bedroom Tax no-show of Labour MPs and the eviction from her home of a mother and her teenage son after welfare cuts caused by the bedroom tax caused her arrears to increase by almost a third.

Other stories we have covered include the GMB decision to back the No campaign despite members of the union not having been balloted.

We continue to hold the BBC to account and will be the first to reveal the result of a BBC Trust inquiry, held last week, into the Lucinda Creighton issue where BBC Scotland stands accused of having employed a news blackout over the Irish Minister’s remarks on the EU status of an independent Scotland.

Our partnership with the professional filmmakers Restless Natives has brought you the ‘We are Scotland’ video series.  Last month we filmed our first ever political debate when we commissioned a filmaking crew to record the final hustings event for the recent Dunfermline by election.

Work is also continuing on the radical Duggy Dug animation project which seeks to cover some of the big issues of the independence debate in a manner that will serve to attract the politically unware.  Hollywood actor Brian Cox has lent his voice to the character of Duggy Dug and our plan is to promote these animations to as wide an audience as possible.

This then is our pitch for your support.  We already have dedicated and generous people who donate to Newsnet Scotland regularly – without their support it is unlikely we would be where we are today.

Our last appeal sought £12,000 for a full time editor.  We achieved this goal within two weeks.  Unfortunately life intervened and our original editor was not able to commit his time to Newsnet Scotland.

Two freelance journalists now fill the gap and have become vital members of the Newsnet Scotland team.

We need to promote the site and expand our content if we are to play any significant role in the referendum debate.

Our appeal may fail.  If it does then we will understand.  There are, as we have said, many sites and campaigns seeking support and people may feel they are more deserving.

However, if you think Newsnet Scotland offers the best chance of reaching out to the undecided voter then please support our appeal.