This is the Scottish news, so we’re going to devote half the programme to talking about sports. Naturally there will be a hefty dose of the fitba, because that’s the only pastime that’s of any relevance to Scotland. There are no other games in this country. No other hobbies. We get wall to wall fitba on what passes for our only news programme even though a majority of Scots have as much interest in the gemme as Reporting Scotland does in telling us how none of the promises of the Better Together campaign from 2014 have actually been kept. The amount of time that BBC Scotland devotes to the fitba is inversely proportional to the amount of time that the Scottish national team actually lasts in international competitions. Never before in the history of the planet has mediocrity and a rampant sense of entitlement been so amply rewarded. Except when it comes to the amount of time given to Ruth Davidson.
But it’s not all fitba. That would be silly. For a bit of variety we’ll also shoehorn in an entirely egregious Scottish connection to Lewis Hamilton winning his fourth world championship for driving a motor as fast as someone on the A9 who doesn’t know there are speed cameras. Then we’ll top it all off with not one but two wee stories about cute animals, this time of the marine variety. With Reporting Scotland, “Oh look there’s a squirrel” isn’t a joke about distraction techniques, it’s the last couple of minutes of padding that we get after the mandatory quarter of an hour of non-news about the bleeding fitba in a thirty minute news programme. So that’s more than half of your so-called national news programme that’s not about the news at all, and that’s not counting the time devoted to the weather.
Scotland doesn’t have its own national public service broadcaster, and has to put up with a 30 minute news show that’s pigeon-holed in the regional segment after the proper British news, but BBC Scotland will still do its damnedest to ensure that that 30 minutes is filled with stuff which isn’t really news at all. In some ways that’s a blessing, because usually the precious minutes which are allotted to real, proper, actual, news are spent telling us about how spectacularly shite Scotland is, and how it’s all the fault of the SNP.
Today, Monday 30 October 2017, BBC Scotland managed to fill over half the meagre time allotted to Scottish news with stories which aren’t actually news at all. It was non-news, news about games and not reality, news about fluff, news that’s designed to fill the belly of a nation in the same way that bark and dried leaves fill the belly of a starving man. We don’t deserve a nourishing broth of hard facts. We’re not worthy of sustenance. We get filling but no content, form but no substance, brightly coloured artificial candy that has no calories but still rots your mental teeth. This is what you get when the people in charge hold you in contempt, when they think that you’re stupid, when they imagine that your horizons are as limited as they want to make them.
Today’s programme wasn’t especially bad. It wasn’t particularly egregious in its contemptuous disregard for the intelligence of the average Scottish person. It was perfectly normal, perfectly usual. That’s that very casual normality which makes BBC Scotland so offensive to the eye, to the ear, and to the spirit. It’s a daily grinding down of our aspirations and hopes. Don’t get above yourself Scotland, now here’s the news about the antics of Rangehibheartics Thistunitedrovers.
I’m not saying that there is no place for sports reporting in news broadcasting. Of course there is. But here in Scotland sports regularly take up almost half of the very limited time that Scotland is allotted and allowed to air news about itself on the telly. And those sports are overwhelmingly fitba. It’s grossly disproportionate. It’s the twisting and contorting of an entire nation to the hobby of a minority of men. It’s telling an entire country that the only things of note, the only things that are newsworthy, that happen here, are things to do with playing, with games, with pastimes and hobbies. Not the serious adult world of proper concerns that actually make a difference to anyone’s real life. When your news show is predominantly about ball games then your news is balls.
Turn on the BBC at 6.30pm of a weekday, and this, kiddies, is what infantilisation looks like. This is to proper news reporting as watered down wallpaper paste is to a thick and meaty stew. Reporting Scotland is the Daily Record without the advantage of being able to wipe your arse with it. It wipes its arse on us instead. And when it’s done repeatedly, when it has gone on for decades, most people no longer recognise it for the patronising guff that it really is. It becomes normal. When it becomes normal, it becomes abnormal to demand something better, something more nourishing. It becomes unthinkable to expect that Scotland should get what any other self-governing country or territory or region already has, a public service broadcaster of its own. When the trite is normal, when the fluff is the substance, demanding something solid is portrayed as wanting propaganda.
All this is deliberate. It’s not beyond the wit of humankind to provide Scotland with a far better news service even within the time constraints artificially imposed by a BBC management in London. But feeding us a diet of crap is a way of teaching us that crap is all that we are capable of producing.
Yet again I remind myself not to watch Reporting Scotland. It’s not going to change. The British state’s deathly grip on the broadcast media was one of the ways in which it won the first independence referendum, and it’s how it intends to keep Scotland within its grasp. We can’t change the BBC, but we can go around it. The biggest and most important task for the Scottish independence movement is for us to become the media, one which treats people like grown ups.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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