What infantilisation looks like

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.


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0 thoughts on “What infantilisation looks like

  1. Gave up on it a long time ago. I can’t bring myself to watch it, I know it will never change. Stv is only slightly better at prime time. Scotland tonight can branch out sometimes but at that time viewing figures are probably in the low thousands. If my wife wasn’t such a worry wart I’d have stopped paying the license donkeys ago. Your right to high light it but sadly it falls on cloth ears. It’s like my mates in the shipyards still clinging to the idea that a no vote was the best for them. If you show a sheep in the mirror it’s still a sheep. I still believe something will turn the tide so far in our favour that even they will see independence is not only our right but our only hope. I thought brexit was it but now I’m not so sure. There has to be more done, a more aggressive not SNP media campaign. How it’s funded or how it would work is beyond me but we have to loosen the grip of the BBC and others somehow

  2. And is this just crap journalism or part of a deeper, deliberate strategy?

    With acknowledgement to Wikipedia – “Social critic Neil Postman contrasted the worlds of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death.

    He writes:

    “…. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture ….”

    And Postman went on: “As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.’ “

  3. Mind you it’s not aimed at the average Scottish punter. It’s aimed at a very particular demographic and its content reinforces their world view, confirms their societal and political bias. Oh and amps their fear whilst undermining their confidence. It’s an all round service dontchaknow.

    Why they do it? I have no idea. I can’t imagine myself doing what they do, but y’know, some folk clearly can.

  4. Oh hell I haven’t watched terrestrial telly for quite a few years That especially goes for the BBC.
    The dreary milquetoast of the UK media in Scotland was/is quite sickening. So being an adult and not a fan of being spoken to like I was a baby still watching the teletubbies – I went off and explored the internet for decent news coverage and of course, well written polemic.

    Tune out and switch off people. You’re not going to miss anything of importance.

  5. I heard Radio Scotlands promo the other day for GMS. It actually brags the important interviews/stories from GMS may even ‘ make up ‘ the news for the rest of the day.
    It sure does make it up…

  6. You know my views on BBC Scotland, Paul, but you
    make a much more eloquent and acerbic fist of it.
    I’ve watched BBC ‘regional’ news programmes in every corner of the UK over the past few decades.
    London was always, and still is, the centre of the BBC Universe.
    That’s where the power and the jobs lie, be it in broadcasting, Dean of an Oxbridge College, a Banking Head Honcho, or Prime Minister.
    WE are being squeezed by a Far Right Wing Iron Heel Oligarchy, who control all of our broadcasting and press outlets.
    The news we get is not news at all.
    It is carefully choreographed dross, designed to numb the brain, and keep important things from our public gaze.
    We wonder why the paedophilia scandals, the sex pest Cabinet Ministers and the vote rigging was kept under wraps, most times until the perpetrators dies or descended into decrepitude and dementia.
    Because the Elite can do what they like, get away with what they like, and consider the 60 million UK proles as insignificant distractions.
    I have no doubt that the London Establishment are behind the revelations of the Tory sex scandals. BTW where has Ruth Davidson, Herald Britland politician of the century been hiding today?
    Zipping up her flies and having another post coital smoke?

    The NE, Yorkshire, Manchester, Midlands, South East, S West of England are all hosted by Jackie Bird and Sally Magnusson clones.
    They don’ speak in their local accents; they have adopted a Thames Estuary twang, because the medium IS the message.
    Those who speak with a quasi or actual Oxbridge Received Pronunciation are the voices of authority and control.
    Talk ‘posh’ and the proles think that you are clever and speak the authoritative truth. Aye, richt.
    BBC Radio Scotland is just a Broomhill/Jordanhill/Hyndland club. It appears that they have culled the Scot Nats from their ranks.
    No room for working class scruff accents on GMS or Kaye with an ‘e’ phone ins.
    Janice Forsyth’s two hours of ‘culture’ is a nice little earner for the likes of Tom Harris, David Torrance and the newspaper Yoons.
    All delivered
    in that tortured Kelvinside ‘we are The British Establishment’ drone.
    I watched Brewer on Sunday and commented on Sunday Politics.
    WE are being denied a window on the world deliberately, with malice aforethought, by a handful of Fourth Estate Fifth Columnists.
    How many people are watching this dross anyway?

  7. When I (rarely) thole for only a few minutes RS, I start to sing sotto voce – to the tune of Auld Lang Syne –

    ‘We’re shite, because we’re shite, because we’re shite, because we’re shite,
    We’re shite because we’re shite, because we’re shite, because we’re shite…

    on and on, ad infinitum.

    This is our lot.

    ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day…’

    Reporting Shiteland, killing hope daily.

    And then I come online to strengthen my unshakeable faith in Scotland’s people, all of us and the reality and facts, long missing from the parochial RS,

    That cosy labour immersed version of Scotland as portayed in RS is long gone and Jackie Bird’s crew is pontificating over a corpse to the scant, departing mourners.

    • Killing people daily.
      Before the drip drip demoralization exercise began in the 70s the Scottish suicide rate was the lowest of the countries in the UK, look at it now.

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  9. Switching on the tele this evening to listen to the headlines on Channel 4 ( 5 mins tops) I heard the chirpy Jackie Bird’ s final words on RS ….SNP BAD……blah blah sex scandal blah blah

    I just had to laugh as it is all so blatant…who are these people and why are they allowed to preside over such a total democratic farce.? They would be fabulous characters for a real Glasgow Panto

    • I posted this elsewhere yesterday in a discussion on Cataluyna. It gives an insight into mainstream media motivations.

      This is from an article in the Columbia Journalism Review regarding El Pais – so-called “Spain’s paper of record”. (https://www.cjr.org/business_of_news/catalonia-independence-el-pais-spain.php )

      (El Pais’ Managing Editor, David) “Alandete agreed that Spain’s leading newspaper had positioned itself as a strong voice against the Catalan secession—but said the paper’s reporters are defending the Spanish constitution, not towing a government line. “El Pais is an institution in Spain, and an institution that is fundamental for Spanish democracy,” Alandete says. “We have a position on breaking up the state. We do not take the stance [that there is] a right to self determination or the freedom to choose [to secede].”

      Seems familiar – but at least Alandete is being straight about what a reader can expect from his newspaper i.e. not balance, not objectivity, always the unionist position.

  10. You must have a strong stomach to watch VichyVision even occasionally, Paul. I gave up years ago to protect my health. BBC Scotland is a national disgrace and I hope it will be looked on in future years for what it is, and all those connected with it viewed with contempt.

    Orwell is often mentioned when discussing the state suppression of truth but 1984 can be viewed as a novel as much about his experiences in the propaganda machine that was the wartime BBC as it was about the Soviet Union. He saw the broadcaster from the inside and for what it was.

    The only consolation is that it seems its misreporting is so obvious now that only older, low-information Daily Mail-reading-types are left to sample its pleasures.

    I wish your article could have a wider readership: imagine what could be achieved if we had a balanced media in Scotland.

    • I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that had there been anything like a truly representative or balanced media in Scotland, we’d be an independent nation state today. We’d be looking at the train wreck of Brexit and austerity UK from a safe distance and getting on with repairing the damage of decades worth of epic governmental failure and corruption.

      No political party on their own has the expertise or reach to get their message into every home and affect the opinion of a nation. It takes media saturation to achieve the desired outcome and when you have a media reading from the same page, all with (spookily) the same bill of goods to sell, the outcome of any argument becomes that much more certain. It makes the task of those not adhering to the orthodoxy that much more difficult. It is with no small amount of credit that the YES campaign came as close as it did to overturning both the state message and the state messenger.

      What it will take to overcome the mainstream media effect is a complete failure and breakdown of trust between them and the public. What it will take is the utter failure of the message they sold to the public and what it will take is for the suffering and betrayal resulting from their efforts to reach into every livingroom in Scotland. That the evidence is so overwhelming, only the most die hard believer will be willing to overlook those effects. Sadly, there WILL be such a demographic and no amount of empirical evidence or the hardship of others will shift their worldview.

      No one could ever take on a motivated media (and boy do they have a motivation), united behind a single message. This is a corporately and politically motivated power base which can build or destroy careers, raise or level governments. Even in its weakened state, it is a monster with a financial reach worth billions and a saturation which reaches tens of millions across the UK and beyond. No government, no party, has the reach or power to take such an entity head on. Only the public themselves have the power required to break the media’s hold on their lives.

      Think world financial crash. All it took to break the banks in 2008 was for someone to say ‘I don’t believe you’ and great financial houses fell like dominoes. That is how you beat the media. One person says quite simply ‘I don’t believe you anymore’, then another, then another.

      You break the mainstream media by turning away from it and creating your own and by investing in those whose word, professionalism and ethics have proven trustworthy. It won’t happen overnight (who knew), but it can and will happen. The process has already started.

  11. I don’t have a TV license, essentially because of the content of your article. Meantime the Catalan President Carles Pulgdemont has moved to Belgium to avoid arrest, not through cowardice but to enable him to continue to campaign for Catalonia independence. An utter disgrace that he is forced to that action, and meantime, Reporting Scotland? Fitba. An utter disgrace.

    I look forward to meeting you in Troon next month.

    • Did you see the report with Kezia Dugdale?
      they were clearly hoping to get a shot of Kez’s face looking like thunder demanding SNP resignations ,but her heart just wasnt in it.

  12. No different than Gordon brewers mask falling of Sunday on air delusion git he is i could do better than him at interviewing msps he was out to cause a fight the way he was going on our health minister

  13. I thought you would have spoken about watching Glen Campbell hopping from one foot to another outside Holyrood like he needs a pee, but he’s actually waiting for some young woman to come running out of the parliament all dissheveled and breathless to report she’s just been violently attacked by a nameless SNP (we’ll call Alex S for the time being) person , but luckily she has it all captured on her phone, but the BBC cannot show the content for fear of compromising the 10 minute trial, officiated over by Judge Jackie Bird , unfortunately for Glen his daughter missed her cue and was sitting in the cafeteria with Nicola drinking a milkshake.

    Never mind Glen one day your time will come, but not today!

  14. Frankly, you had me from when you had a go at the overdone football coverage, but the rest is spot on as well.

  15. I gave up on Misreporting Scotland a while ago, but unfortunately my husband still watches and he is very deaf, so even in another part of the house I occasionally catch enough of it to make my blood boil!

  16. I wonder if the SNP have instigated their inquiry into sex allegations hoping that labour & Tory victims will also speak up?
    However BBC Scotland and the rest of the unionist media will be trying to work up an SNP scandal whilst continuing the cover up of unionist suspects.
    Women’s lives mean nothing in comparison to maintenance of their precious union.

    • Manna from heaven for GMS and Reporting Scotland. They have been desperate to manufacture a story of about sexual harassment in Holyrood following on the coat tails of Westminister (the me too approach) and as if by magic one has appeared. And not only that it has SNP attached, what glee and excitement at Pacific Quay, can the day get any better for them?

      To be honest I am not interested and that is not healthy in a democracy. I, along with others, now routinely ignore the BBC and in fact have 0% faith in anything they say, I am now accustomed to thinking everything I hear from them is either a lie or totally skewed. It always amazes me that every story they cover seems to be done from a viewpoint that is opposite to the one I hold. I do not expect them to report my world view but I do expect them to be balanced in their output and they are clearly not. The sad thing is there shall be people on the No side who are continually having their beliefs reinforced by watching this drivel. It is a conundrum, it is easy for me to tune out from this about what about these people? How to we get through to them?

      The other interesting point about this whole episode transcends the Scottish question. If you look at this topic you can see how it has been driven by celebrity, social media and 24hr news. Outrage in US (appreantly the epicentre for anything ‘newsworthy’), spreads to the Westminister Parliament (me too, me too) and then to Holyrood(me too, me too, me too). These 24hr news operations just simply create their own ‘news’. I am not saying that there is not a real issue of concern here, there is but it needs to be seen in context. This constant outrage and drivel we are all fed by these professional media organisations and their rolling / self perpetuating ‘news’ is just pathetic.

  17. ‘The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.’
    American writer H. L. Mencken

  18. Don’t give the BBC bastards any of your money. Save it for the day we have our own public broadcaster after independence.

    • I see Dominic Raab churns out the old ‘value for public money’ nonsense when he tries to defend this latest assault on our Social Democracy.
      He and Goldsmith are waiting in the sidelines to take over.

  19. The people who read and comment on Wings and particularly pauls blogs, 90% of the time agree with the subjects, that is why we access them, it is nice to realise that their are others with like minds. It is important to remember that most of the 45% who voted YES would still vote the same, this being the case even with the British MSM of TV and the crap some people read in the so called press, we have to get organised collectively with all the differant Yes movements coming together under one banner like the SIC, where collective thoughts and funds required to get the message over to the 10/15% of 55% of no voters we need who are still believing the MSM lies.

  20. How to watch non-BBC catch-up and legally not pay

    If you never watch the BBC and only watch all your programmes using the catch-up services of other channels, it may be possible to legally ditch the TV licence and save yourself £147 per year.

    You only need a TV licence if you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast or use BBC iPlayer – if you only use other catch-up sites, you don’t need one.

    You can cancel by letting TV licensing know. Although there’s no legal obligation to do this, it says doing so will prevent an increasing number of letters coming your way.

    Cancel payment first. If you pay by direct debit you can cancel it by filling out TV Licensing’s contact form. Tell it you no longer watch TV and confirm your current address. You’ll also need to cancel your direct debit with your bank. If you pay with a TV Licensing payment card, you’ll need to call 0300 555 0286.

    Then fill out the declaration. Everyone who no longer requires a TV licence – including those who pay in cash at certain stores or Post Offices, who don’t need to do the above – can fill out a No Licence Needed declaration form. After this, keep your confirmation email from TV Licensing as proof.

    TV Licensing may visit. Once you’ve cancelled, you might find you get a visit from TV Licensing to check whether you actually do need a TV licence – it says these inspections find one in five households do. If you do need a licence, you’ll need to pay the full licence fee, and you could risk prosecution plus a fine of up to £1,000.

    You don’t need a licence so long as you are not watching live TV or using BBC iPlayer and are only watching on-demand or catch-up on other services.

    Buy a chrome cast and watch anything on internet ia mobile phone/pc to chrome cast to TV.

  21. Haven’t seen or heard anything claiming to be news on BBC in Scotland for years. Why voluntarily let myself be insulted? I think Prof John Robertson issued viewing and listening figures for the dismal TV and radio stations main news programmes and they were encouragingly low. Don’t watch BBC Scotland news and don’t listen to Radio Scotland – it’s easy.

  22. I wish there was a “Yes! Yes! Yes! Bloody Brilliant!” button to press at the bottom of this blog post. Mere “Like” simply doesn’t cut the mustard. Long before we began to realise WHY we were being fed this pap, Mr MicCoinnich and I noticed that there was little or no actual “news” on BBC Reporting Scotland and a surfeit of “fitba, weather and fluff”. We stopped watching long before we left Scotland …

  23. I agree with your message here Paul.

    Over the last few years, since 2013 (when I saw the light), this theme of poor Scottish media keeps coming up. Sadly I feel this is not going to change anytime soon. I hope that if we have a good campaign for indy2 that some papers do indeed switch once they see the writing on the wall. I’ll not get to optimistic on this mind you.

  24. I haven’t so much as glanced at any bbc/stv/c4/c5 news politics current affairs programmes for years now. Cannot understand why some yessers keep on tuning in to Rep Scotland, QT etc just to be offended by whatever bilge they’re spouting. I wouldn’t be surprised if up to half of those who watch them in Scotland are masochistic indy supporters who then come on pro indy sites and moan about it, when in fact they’re helping to support them. If they stopped supporting the bbc etc by completely stopping tuning in to any news or politics programmes it would almost certainly have at least some kind of adverse effect on them.

    It wouldn’t kill them of course they’ll always if necessary be directly funded by WM no matter how low viewer numbers are but they would know that they’re definitely on the way out. And of course stop paying the bbc propaganda tax, whether you intend to continue watching live tv or not. I watch RT for global news and visit here, wos etc etc for more local news.

  25. I haven’t watched a single Reporting Scotland since the referendum and have found myself much the better for it. Scotland Tonight is not perfect but gives a good mix of Scottish and international news. Whenever this BBC Scottish channel starts I won’t watch anything on it either as it is bound to be more of the same colonial crap as we get now.

  26. There are few voices of sanity left in the professional media these days. Most news organizations in Britain have metastasised into troll platforms. Question Time et.al. included.

    Fitba is merely the current tune, and chosen opiate, with which the non-doms subdue and pasteurize the Scots in particular, and many of our fellows in the rUK. While they program us all with self loathing. A hundred years it was religion and dulce decorum est.

    Enjoy your ability to go straight for the jugular, sir.

  27. While I agree Reporting Scotland is a terrible news programme and yes the quality of news items is usually awful trivial fluff pieces, I find the writer of this pieces attitude to football, as well as many independence supporters very depressing.

    He claims it is covered” even though a majoroty of scots gave as much interest in the game as reporting Scotland does in better together ….” I am sure the writer and his circle of friends have no interest in football and that is fine. But to claim it is some minority persuit is just rediculous. He needs to look round any Scottish town or city at a weekend to see this is just not true.

    It is the national sport , which tens of thousands of Scots travel all over the country to watch every week. The Scottish league is proportionately one of the highest attended leagues in Europe by head of population.

    No other sport comes close in Scotland in interest, certainly not rugby which is the only other major team sport played in Scotland over the autumn and winter. Club rugby attendances in Scotland would shame league 2 football clubs. No one cares enough to watch. Other sports are generally played in summer so not much scope for news.

    The independence movement claims to have the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society’s needs at its core. But it’s attitude to working class people in this county belies a snobbery and contempt for those same people when the discussion involves football in any way.

    You could say that the attitude is to “infantilise” these same people for daring to like the worlds most popular game, which owes its global popularity in large parts to Scots of the past.

    Shame on you , you intolerable

    • Bollocks. I’m working class. I don’t object to football being covered in the news. I do object to it being allotted HALF the very limited time that the BBC gives to Scottish news. It’s just a game. Get over yourself.

      • I agree Nicholas is talking bollocks. I suppose you could argue that as football took up so much time it left less time for more corrosive unionist propaganda, but the easiest route to a happy life is to never ever watch Reporting Scotland again.

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