The Key Ideas

#29 Create a digital media fund to support and encourage innovation in digital journalism

An essential element of democracy is a media willing to hold government to account. Britain's media is very unbalanced, owned as it is by a tiny number of individuals and corporations. Scotland's media is also unbalanced (with almost complete opposition to independence for example), but equally worrying is that it is greatly underfunded. In most cases an entire parliament is supposed to be held to account by one or at most two journalists from each newspaper. This is insufficient and for reasons both of balance and capacity, action should be taken.

The economics of news publishing is changing rapidly as readership is dropping off with more and more people getting their news online and more and more print newspapers picking up stories from online coverage. But a sustainable business model for Scotland-scale online news and proper journalism is not easy to do 'in your spare time'. It is therefore suggested that government help fund journalism, focussing on online and citizen journalism. It is important that this is done in a fair and even-handed way: encouraging more online news sites to monitor public life in Scotland will enhance democracy, especially if that strategy addresses the obscene inequalities in media representation and journalism by supporting the engagement of those less likely to create content such as women and ethnic minorities.