Alex Salmond ruffled some sensitive journalistic feathers the other day in his UnCut fringe show when he suggested that he knew only 6 good decent Scottish Journalists worth their salt.
“The press are largely despised, not just because of what they write, but also because of what they don’t write and the ignorance,the prejudice that that displays”
“Apart from about 6 decent political journalists in Scotland- the rest are waste of space.”
It fairly got the journalistic fraternity nattering on twitter wondering who he meant and who he included or excluded in that opinion.
It was fairly interesting to note some of their interaction on twitter, namely the ones who are less friendly to Alex Salmond and the SNP shall we say.
I had the following exchange with the Heralds Paul Hutcheon
My goodness that is a surprise. Do we still have journalists?
Amazingly perceptive of you
Brendan McGinty editor of the Sunday Mail was obviously irked when he said ” Few of us take up as much space as he does”
The FOURTH ESTATE
Oscar Wilde wrote: “In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism.”
The Fourth Estate (or fourth power) is a segment of society that wields an indirect but significant influence on society even though it is not a formally recognized part of the political system. The most commonly recognized part of the fourth estate is the news media or press.
Where once this great Fourth estate had journalistic values which were meant to hold the other great estates to account by asking the hard questions which they didn’t want to give.
Sadly as the Levison enquiry proved the Fourth estate is now no more than the Self Interest of the Press Barons and their shareholders which in the UK account for more than 90% of the press in the hands of the unscrupulous few, and are in cahoots with those that they should be holding to account. Journalism real journalism is a fast disappearing art.
Sadly, in many respects, the Fourth Estate has become the fifth column of democracy, colluding with the powers that be in a culture of deception that subverts the thing most necessary to freedom, and that is the truth.
Our Fourth Estate apart from having an awfy guid conceit of themselves are extremely prickly indeed when they are themselves brought into question, and perhaps there is no wonder in that? After all they have their historically much vaunted position in society to uphold as the Truth Sayers to the Masses.
Indeed they are so used to spouting forth their opinions which in the past were rarely questioned that they have taken it extremely hard since the advent of Social Media where they find their views often taken to task by mere plebs in the public.
Much of what is produced in the media by these journalists can appear to be little more than propaganda from whichever perspective their newspaper owners come from.
After all these people have mortgages to pay and food to get just like everyone else and if they don’t write what their editors want them to write they will soon find themselves out of a job. And so it is that they become political commentators rather than journalists.
We only need look at the laziness of some journalistic reports to see how far they have come from actual journalism.They all hang out on twitter following each other, they all get the same political press releases and pass them on without any real examination of the facts, or questions to the veracity of the claims.
Take the recent Conservative Councillors scandal. The BBC and the press should have been hunting down Ruth Davidson when she tried to hide, and when she did deign to address them they should have been checking the veracity of her claims that these unsuspended councillors had indeed been undergoing diversity training, and also if they had been in touch with Nil by Mouth as claimed. But NO…. it took others to find the truth of the matter.
When Labour claims and accusations are made, they are not questioned, When Tory claims and accusations are made, they are not questioned. If either can be found fault with in Scotland, they are not questioned. But when it comes to the SNP, the Scots Government or Independence, everything is questioned and attacked.
There is no impartiality in the journalism we receive, and those who transmit our political news are not journalists but party supporting hacks with biased perspectives.
That is why our print media is failing, and it is why the BBC are held in deep suspicion.
So the umbrage at Alex Salmonds statement is not at all surprising, and those taking the most umbrage at it are the main perpetrators of propaganda.
When I commented to Paul Hutcheon I was being somewhat tongue in cheek. We still do have a few good political journalists in Scotland, but unfortunately we could count them almost on one hand. And I don’t necessarily mean that these are journalists I agree with, these are journalists who will examine the truth and ask the hard questions without favour and report and analyse honestly.
The rest as Alex Salmond said are a waste of space.