Tom Bradby isn’t enjoying covering the #IndyRef. This may be the new normal
Just a thought on the level of abuse journalists have been receiving during the #Indyref campaign in Scotland.
Tom Bradby writes a post about how he isn’t enjoying the experience of covering the referendum because of the level of abuse he’s been receiving. I’ve noted before that it is the topic most likely to generate abusive tweets when we talk about it on @ampp3d. Tom specifically makes the point in his post that:
“My first major job as a correspondent was in Ireland in the early nineties and, despite the fact that there was a bitter war going on all round me that took many lives, I experienced virtually no personal hostility at all from anyone. They didn’t lob accusations of bias around every time you asked a question either.”
That made me wonder – is the Scottish referendum debate really more heated than anything during the Troubles? Or are we as journalists just feeling and seeing the heat that much more because of social media?
Complaints about individual journalists or articles used to get funnelled through the “Letters to the editor”, and so nobody could see the strength of opinion about a particular issue except for the letters’ editor. And journalists might get some “green ink” letters, but it was much harder to organise a “green ink” campaign.
With every passing election campaign, there are more people using social media in the UK, and fewer gatekeepers between the journalist and the public.
I’ve no doubt that it has a been a bumpy social media ride covering the #IndyRef, but I suspect that this is may be the new normal for us in covering elections, and that we won’t see much different in May.
You make a point but without any evidence apart from your own hearsay which includes no specifics. As you’ll know the NUJ issued a line on Glasgow BBC protest and intimidation, specifically stating there were issues on both sides. Only the YES campaign was fingered in the reporting of this release.
The reason why so many Scots think the media is biased is because they are. Only the Sunday Herald has come out for YES – as its editor put it last night, there is a “democratic deficit”. So you can hardly be surprised if many Scots see you/journalists as not only embedded but also partisan with the Unionist campaign.
Take David Miliband’s visit to Edinburgh yesterday. I watched the footage repeatedly and I know the area, the man was hoping someone would throw a bucket of paint over him. It was an act of provocation. Health and Safety should have banned his walkabout! In the end all he got was jostled by the international media who wanted to be in his face. Go and watch the footage. All of that was packaged up and turned into sordid headlines about intimidation. It is this sort of nonsense which frustrates people like me.
Or take the BBC. I complained about their coverage and they sent me a response (i’ll copy it to you if you like) which tried to make an equivalence in coverage between letting Johann Lamont and Gordon Brown have a 30 minute broadcast and an interview with Alan Cumming. Please!! The difference between a platform (no criticism, no questions, plenty of rhetoric) with an interview with an actor who lives in America is ABSURD.
Hopes this helps provide some balance to your position. Have a lovely time in Edinburgh, it is a beautiful city going through a fascinating political moment.
All the best,
Sorry, I’m just…
Well, to summarise the linked article I think the tl;dr version would be
“When I call one side of the debate a bunch of fascists and handle the other’s statements like I was a stenographer, people call me biased,” says idiot.
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