Livestream for Media strategy for IndyRef2: Michael Gray

Livestream of Michael Gray of CommonSpace speaking on “Media strategy for IndyRef2” and answering questions. Apologies for the green hue (lighting problem) but the content and the discussion are excellent! https://livestream.com/IndependenceLive/michael-gray

Minutes                                 Mon 5 June 2017

  1. Anne Donohoe opened the meeting by welcoming everybody.
  2. There were 25 attendees – a good turnout considering it was the last week of the General Election, and a number of people were out leafletting or attending a hustings of local candidates.
  3. Anne started with some announcements:

–          The Clermiston Inn has booked future Mondays for slimming classes. The meeting would prefer to stick to Mondays, so we need to look for alternative venue – any suggestions to Bob Glen.

–          Mon 3 July 2017 No meeting. We could have a training session on Canvassing  – anybody interested should email Bob Glen.

–          Mon 7 Aug 2017 7.30 : Selma Rahman on Women for Independence (NOT Clermiston Inn)

–           Mon Sep 4 7.30: Ross Greer of the Scottish Greens on “An education strategy for an independent Scotland” (NOT Clermiston Inn)

  1. Anne introduced our speaker, Michael Gray of CommonSpace, who spoke on “Media strategy for IndyRef2”. Michael began by setting the background – how the degree of uncertainty about the future has increased since IndyRef1 (with no further information on Brexit, massive swings in polls on the election result), and how the media landscape has changed (with 2 pro-indy newspapers, the Daily Record moving towards indy support, the growth in social media, and investigative journalism such as the Ferret and OpenDemocracy). Broadcast media still sees its purpose as scrutiny of government – but particularly the Scottish Government. He spoke about the media “bubble” – the self-referencing churnalism (“Yer Da Sells Avon”), and the way that broadcast media are led by print media. He spoke of the pressure on journalists, due to severe cutbacks in recent years.

He then drew some lessons we should learn – to be specific rather than generalise, to support and share positive messages, and not to expect the media’s editorial position to be changed by writing letters to them. Above all, to realise that the media isn’t that important –its early stance on Trump and Corbyn, for example, prove it to be an unreliable guide to the future. He gave some practical advice, drawing on Noam Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent, and a student exercise which showed how much coverage you could get in the Daily Mail if you approached it in the right way, used the right language, and thought of how your message would be received. The Wee Blue Book was a great example of reaching and creating new audiences, and he recommended using media information as a tool (e.g. having print articles to hand while campaigning).

His key issues were: the generation gap (wider than pensions), economics (proving that we can afford independence), and persuading Labour supporters who are open to independence. This time round, we face a new opportunity in Brexit (because of its likely negative impact on living standards, jobs, house prices, and civil liberties – with many of these uncertainties strongly linked to Edinburgh); and a new danger (in the Yes movement being too closely linked with the SNP – a strength in elections, but a weakness in a referendum).

  1. Anne opened the floor to questions, and a wide-ranging discussion ensued: about Brexit implications in Ireland, BBC licenses, media presentation of Ruth Davidson, whether we need to be more assertive/ aggressive to get our message out, dodgy sponsors, whether we’re burdened by too much information and need simpler messages, how circulation of The National is restricted by sales outlets (we should spread our copy around the community?). A particularly telling intervention was made by Liz, a homeless woman who reminded everybody of the importance of the transformational potential of independence – the managerial competence of the Scottish Government is not sufficient. Hope motivates, not despair.
  2. AOCB

–          The meeting was asked if it objected to being shown as the Livestream audience – no objection.

–          We have published a number of briefing notes (as online E-Flets, rather than old-fashioned leaflets!), book previews and film previews – all comments welcome! If you want to make comments, set up, lead or join groups on any other subject, please email Bob Glen.

–          Gerry Mulvenna  has implemented a donation facility on the website.

–          Local Crowdfunder to support our efforts on #ScotRef has been delayed till after the summer.

–          Please subscribe to the mailing list on our website, Like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and find a library of useful information on the Yes liaison Forum.