The Scottish media and the poll that never was

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
In a weekend devoid of news, save for the tribulations at Ibrox and calls for Charles Green to go, a poll appeared that offered up all sorts of juicy titbits for a media looking for a story.
 
The poll was carried out by a reputable organisation – Panelbase – and details were published by the company on Friday.

  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
In a weekend devoid of news, save for the tribulations at Ibrox and calls for Charles Green to go, a poll appeared that offered up all sorts of juicy titbits for a media looking for a story.
 
The poll was carried out by a reputable organisation – Panelbase – and details were published by the company on Friday.

However the survey might as well not have taken place, if the reaction from the media in Scotland is anything to go by.  The so-called Scottish newspapers and their broadcast equivalents ignored the story.

Now there’s nothing wrong with pursuing an editorial line when you are a private company as the newspapers are.  But that said, some of these newspapers are supposed to be respected journals – in order to keep up the charade then surely a cursory nod to this poll would have been sensible.

Small organisations such as Newsnet Scotland can be forgiven for not reporting polls and surveys that may or may not compliment their own editorial line.  But that excuse, notwithstanding cutbacks, is not available to traditional news vendors with scores of staff at their disposal.

It’s even worse for BBC Radio Scotland, a broadcaster whose lifeblood at the weekend seems to rely heavily on people talking about anything in order to fill airtime.  This survey should have been manna from heaven.  The professional blether merchants would have had a field day.

This is the same BBC who, having been handed a cropped photo by the pro-Union group Better Together, ran news bulletins based on smear allegations against a small group called Labour for Independence.

It’s not as though BBC Scotland doesn’t cover polls as the list below shows:

In truth, though we should not be surprised by this reluctance to cover this poll, some of the survey results were just too uncomfortable.  This is how the independence debate has been conducted by our traditional media and how it will continue until the day of the referendum.

An example of how the Scottish media will ignore significant stories that harm the pro-Union agenda occurred in October last year.  The period was marked by attacks on Alex Salmond over the EU status of an independent Scotland.

The attacks were based on statements made by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.  According to the narrative, Salmond’s claim that a newly independent Scotland would remain a member of the EU had been undermined Mr Barroso.

However Newsnet Scotland obtained what I firmly believe was one of the scoops of 2012 when we caught the European Commission lying about comments made by one of its Vice Presidents in relation to Catalonia’s EU status.  The issue centred on an interview given by Viviane Reding to a Spanish journalist.

Ms Reding indicated that a newly independent Catalonia would not be forced to leave the European Union and, when pressed, pointed out that there existed no international law that could force Catalonia out of the EU.

Questioned on this by Newsnet Scotland, the EC issued a string of ever increasingly hostile and dismissive replies denying outright that Ms Reding had made any such comments.  Some of the denials came from the office of Mr Barroso himself.

Newsnet Scotland however managed to track down the reporter who had carried out the interview and, fortunately, had made a recording.  Ms Reding was heard clearly making the statement that the EC had denied had been made.

The EC, we reported, had been leant on by Madrid in order to kill the original interview story.  They succeeded in forcing Spanish newspapers to issue corrections.

When Newsnet exposed the EC denials as false, and published a recording of the interview containing the comments the EC claimed had not been made, our scoop made it into the pages of several Spanish newspapers and was covered by Spanish broadcasters.

However in Scotland the story was ignored completely.  Not one news organisation covered a story that called into question the integrity of the EC and Barroso’s office.  Of course had it been covered then the integrity of José Manuel Barroso’s office would have been harmed and any statements relating to a newly independent Scotland would have carried less weight as a result.

Two weeks after we ran the story, Derek Bateman covered it on his Saturday morning show.  Save for that, the story remains completely ignored by journalists in Scotland.

So, the lesson learned is that the main stream media outlets will not allow the news agenda to be set by anyone outwith the ‘club’.  Especially pro-independence online sites.

If that means ignoring significant stories relevant to the independence debate or polls which throw up results that question the narrative then so be it.

Polls are expensive, as Newsnet Scotland discovered when we sought estimates from a respected polling organisation and Wings over Scotland should be congratulated for showing initiative.  However in not reporting the Wings over Scotland poll in any meaningful way, the Scottish media has created another more interesting story.

We knew were we stood prior to the survey being carried out – nothing has changed.