Scotland's Mainstream Media
I didn't enjoy The Ref's piece on VB about Scotland's Mainstream Media. This is because his main observation is that Scotland's mainstream media has long forgotten how to at least make a pretence at impartiality.
It may manifest itself in different ways, but the end result of consciously negative or inaccurate reporting about Rangers and Rangers supporters is the same.
I'm well aware that in this supposed post-truth environment of the SNP, Trump and Brexit era, it is easy for the unhinged online obsessives to manufacture grievances and fake 'news', without facing the consequences of their actions.
There's a real trend in both the Celtic blogging community and the Nationalist blogging community for emerging bloggers to appear credible and relatively sensible to the unaware, before their scribblings represent something akin to a complete meltdown. Strangely, a good number of their flocks would appear to get dragged down with their leaders, which is the opposite of what should be happening.
So, they remain, to pollute our world with lies & conspiracies which get proven wrong again and again, and oddly, it doesn't seem to matter.
Common to both the Nationalist community, and the Celtic supporting community are the aggressive shut down mobs who try to bully anyone online who makes even a subtle suggestion that their crazy pied pipers are wrong.
The volume of times I have seen vile abusive nationalist tweets, only to observe said nationalist gushing about the club across the city is ridiculous. It is no coincidence.
I'm not normally an STV reader, but the piece written by Lucy Blackburn this morning about fake news, and the efforts that should be undertaken to prevent this, is a must read, and journalists and commentators in both the print and broadcast media would do well to study it in detail before they write or say anything more.
While the Ref's piece was pointed more at bias than fake news, it also points to a mainstream media in crisis in Scotland.
While many journalists and commentators in employment of the MSM see themselves as protectors of integrity in the industry, and the last true source of accurate information for the public, any remaining journalists who do things by the book, are being stabbed in the back as their colleagues damage their integrity with every misleading or inaccurate headline or article.
All it takes at any media outlet, is for one sub editor, one journalist, or one commentator to forego accuracy in favour of furthering an agenda, and their employer suffers, as prospective readers, subscribers or viewers walk away in disgust.
We have a situation in Scotland where it's not just journalists who are ignoring impartiality in favour of agendas, but Editors too.
In recent years, the toothless IPCC have upheld complaints of inaccuracy with regards to reports concerning Rangers from BBC Scotland and the Daily Record with both outlets apologising, before becoming repeat offenders.
Without a strong objective body to ensure accuracy, the public have other tools at their disposal, consisting of active protest and challenge, or the less active choice to simply walk away.
It's clear that the media is failing to understand its place in the brave new world, and that decreasing audiences are impacting their judgement.
So, many are crossing that murky border between credible reportage and clickbait, in order to try and maintain decreasing ad revenue.
Sometimes it's the headline that is the issue when it doesn't reflect the story, sometimes the social media clickbait headline (which doesn't match the actual headline) is the issue, and in some cases it's the article itself, with inaccuracies or misquotes throughout.
If you follow most of the Scottish Media outlets I would wager that you will have encountered at least one of the above yesterday, today, and most probably tomorrow.
If the mainstream media is to survive at all, the first priority above all else has to be accuracy, and gaining trust of readers, listeners and viewers.
Contrary to common perception, I believe (enough) people will fork out for content that is value for money to sustain providers. In media, that means verifiable accuracy. It has to be the top priority for any media outlet, or they become no better than a million and one websites that desperately seek clicks for pennies, for substandard fare written by glorified bloggers?
Should it be acceptable for a once great media institution such as the Daily Record to end up no better than utter tosh like HITC or footballinsider?
I'm sure there are decent journos at the Record that are horrified by such a comparison, and so they should be. It's down to them to prevent the decline from accelerating any faster.
Take this morning's Record, spinning a story claiming Celtic have turned £10M in to £50M with a buy cheap sell big policy. The piece goes on to detail the signings that have contributed to this 'profit', and it becomes apparent that even allowing for them using inflated sales figures, and ignoring a number of costly signings that have been sold at great loss, the total is still £40M, some £10M less than claimed.
This is from the paper that once claimed Craig Whyte was a Billionaire. It's embarrassing.
While many write off newspapers as finished, my view, albeit a minority one, is that they are at a decision crossroads, and while other commercial decisions will need to be made, the decision to pursue truth, impartiality and integrity will define whether the industry will recover or die.
My view is that people pay for decent product, which is why Vinyl is in the midst of a recovery, and why physical books have recovered to such an extent that e-books are on their arse.
I also believe that the vast majority of people, even those that get looked down upon by the liberal elites, simply want a source of truth they can trust, and they are not getting it, whether it be from silly nationalist comics like the Sunday Herald or National, right wing propaganda sheets like the Express, hypocrisy in spades from the trust fund run Guardian, or dodgy populism from the Record.
All of them, and more, are on thin ice, and it's their decision to make.
Do they have the balls for it?
If they don't I would suggest it won't only be fake news that will be an issue, but fake everything, as revisionism will also change history.
If that is allowed to happen, what integrity is left for anything?