This isn’t the first time that many of us have noticed differences between the BBC Scotland news reported on the website and that reported on Reporting Scotland or Good Morning Scotland. While the latter two remain horribly imbalanced and often utterly dishonest in their creation of a climate hostile to independence, the website is often pretty-fair, balanced, and even prepared to report on good news for Scotland with no ifs or buts.
I’m not the only one to put this down to a strategy whereby a captive older audience, getting nearly all of its news from the TV, radio and the press, can be scared off independence while a younger audience, getting most of its news online from diverse sources, cannot. However, many of my online friends and supporters are, I know, ‘silver surfers’ like me, who are perfectly capable of accessing those more diverse sources. That they both voted Yes and are confident internet users suggests, I suspect, that it is a personality unafraid of change rather than age which counts in their cases. However, are they, perhaps, exceptions to a pattern which might be revealed in statistics?
The BBC website reported today:
‘Hundreds of jobs are set to be created during the construction of a vessel which will be used to redevelop a North Sea oil and gas field. Shell said between 300 and 400 jobs, mostly in Scotland, would be needed to support construction of the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel for the Penguins field. Once operational, the vessel is expected to support about 70 jobs.’
They even allowed SNP Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, to make a statement without inviting the Unionist parties or Douglas Fraser, to remind us a range of ‘ah buts’ so that we didn’t get too carried away with optimism. He said:
‘This significant investment is further evidence of rising confidence in the future of the region and it will offer a significant boost to communities across the north east of Scotland, along with boosting the wider Scottish economy.’
The report finished there on this high note in manner unheard of in broadcasts.
So, back to the opening question of why the website is clearly not part of the No campaign. Have a look at the statistics represented in these two figures:
There’s a fairly strong correlation between age and voting Yes or No for independence and there’s an equally strong one between age and internet-use. Silver surfers over 75 are not really that numerous and BBC propaganda is geared quite accurately to its audience. Allowing the website to be less biased also means that they can pretend to an overall balance of reporting, across their whole output. It’s what Karl Marx called ‘repressive tolerance.’ As long as views contrary to the establishment view are relatively rare and with a small audience, freedom of expression and thought can be claimed.