2007 - 2022

What is alternative media?

mainstream-mediaAs we are rattling the can and trying to gain support for Bella to go forward, I thought it would be good to try and map out both some of the thinking behind the project and where we want to go, how it relates to the wider aims and strategies of the movement.

World Scotland

We’ve recently been accused of ‘writing about issues other than Scottish independence’. This is a vile charge against which we plead guilty guilty guilty ma’lud! We need to expand debate not close it down and if its a badge of merit to have such a narrow world view as to only write about independence that’s a badge we’ll happily miss out on. We need to place Scotland in the world – locate ourselves and relate our struggle to the bigger movements of power. So geopolitics, immigration, defence, Europe climate change are all relevant to understanding (and transforming) our place in the world. If anything we’ve been too obsessed by Willie Rennie’s antics or Tank Girl’s photo op.


We need to have the confidence to be self-critical as a movement. That means being able to say ‘what did we do wrong before and what will we do differently next time?’ and not just clinging on to the same old truths and messages from before. This isn’t about blame it’s about honesty and taking responsibility and stepping away from constantly blaming other organisations and institutions (the BBC, the Tory Party, JK Rowling etc etc etc). Regurgitating failed arguments won’t progress anything anywhere.

A Real Alternative Media

The need for an alternative media that is alternative in a much deeper sense than just ‘not unionist’. How its owned, what its values are, who gets a say and how work is commissioned are all key questions that could help define a genuine radical Scottish new media.

Building these structures and developing these ideas will be key in the years ahead if we are to progress. We’ve done it for ten years without adds and we need your support to develop.

News Agenda

We need to be able to escape the framing and storytelling that the corporate news schedule creates. The new media is routinely underfunded and draws its stories from traditional news outlets. The problem with this is that we then replicate the values and ways of looking at the world from those institutions. The challenge for the alternative media is to tell different stories in new ways and create spaces for new voices and direct testimony. That’s what we intend to do.

New Audiences

Too many of the existing new media exist just for speaking to their own people. This results in circular self-confirming articles and comments: ‘Great post – I agree!’ The challenge is to reach and engage with new audiences who don’t agree with you. The political challenge is to take a 45% for Yes to a 60%. That won’t happen with closed minds and echo chambers. It will happen with fresh thinking, critical thinking and open forums about how to go forward.

What’s at stake?

It’s difficult to get people to support something they’ve always had for free. The reality is that if Bella doesn’t get significant new support in the next few days then we may have to close, or at least substantially reorganise how we operate. We could lose our full-time editor, our Gaelic and Scots content, our plans to create a training programme to bring more women writers into new media, our plans for new platforms of content in film and soundcloud, and our publishing hundreds of freelance writers.

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Thank you.

Comments (9)

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  1. punklin says:

    “The challenge is to reach and engage with new audiences who don’t agree with you.”

    But you won’t achieve that by attacking the ones that do.

  2. My criticisms have been mild and the response completely disproportionate.

    1. punklin says:

      Sorry, Mike, but your criticisms of Derek Bateman, Wings and the SNP etc in the run-up to the recent elections were hardly “mild”. You tore into them and their strategies of “quietism”.

      You have toned it down a bit but even as you ask for support to save this site (and I really hope you succeed and wish you all the best in that respect) you still can’t stop yourself putting down those who adopt a different approach as here:

      “Too many of the existing new media exist just for speaking to their own people. This results in circular self-confirming articles and comments: ‘Great post – I agree!’” … and : “closed minds and echo chambers… etc”

      Like many others, I don’t have a closed mind and nor do I want an echo chamber.
      I like Bella, though I tend to agree with the more gradualist approach of others and work my socks off to make it happen. I also think Wings does a great job in its own way. As does Derek, WGD etc etc etc…

      And so on. Let a thousand indy flowers bloom – we don’t need to define ourselves by not being like the others, particularly when that line has at times been couched in condescending terms, as if you know best.

      This intolerance, strong or mild, does all of us damage and it makes it harder to support your site, brilliant though it can be especially in its breadth of coverage.

      1. punklin says:

        Just to add: I’m sorry to hear that the response was “completely disproportionate” but surely you’re used to the small abusive minority and would never fall into the yoon-trap of judging the mainstream of opinion on an issue from some negative or just highly critical comments?

        Good luck!

      2. I’m not putting anyone down – I’m just stating a reality. Surely you’d agree that the political task is to engage with people who dont already agree with us and not just those that do? Why is it even controversial to say that?

        While there’s a need for unity there’s also a need for healthy debate. Are you also attacking these other sites for the personal attacks on Bella? Or is it only Bella that needs to stick to this policy?

  3. David Sangster says:

    This exchange between “punklin” and Editor Small is an example of the kind of thing becoming ever more frequent on these pages. I am not sure that it is wise for the editor to be getting down and dirty with the posters, because it encourages a conflation of Bella=Mike which may explain some of the reluctance of punters to cough up for funding. A certain aloofness is becoming in an editor.

    Similarly, most editors eschew a by-line, so that the editorial is an impersonal statement of the publication’s stance, not an opinion piece. It also frees the editorial to be written by some other contributor. I offer this as a contribution to thinking about ‘where the project wants to go’, and I don’t think the project wants to be a blog.

    1. Wul says:

      Agree with this and you said it better than I could.
      I need information not affirmation, but each site to its own merits please.
      Reading one editor criticising another is like being at a party where the hosts bicker and ask you to take a side. Awkward, unnecessary and somehow ignoble. Must be very frustrating, but with the privilege of writing the editorial comes an expectation of staying oot the rammy.

    2. If I’m asked to defend my editorial position its essential that I do. Bella is a platform for hundreds of writers.

      People will have to reflect on their own hostility and come to terms with that. We’ll be continuing despite the attacks on us.

  4. Wul says:

    Amazes me, this “you said something I didny like so I’m no helping you” mentality. If you use this site, even for trolling, stick your hand in your pocket FFS.

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