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Will #indyref impact on the Future of Media in Scotland?


By Craig McGill | Digital Strategist

March 28, 2014 | 5 min read

It's a very obvious question - come the #indyref and either a yes/no vote what will the impact be on the media and the future of media in Scotland? Will there be more jobs? Will the doom and gloom continue? Does it event matter?

And you know what, I don't think it does.


I don't think that the vote will have too much of an impact on the media either way. When you look at the changes of the last few decades that have had an impact - the move to digital, the growth of the internet and the subsequent fall in circulations for many mass-media print publications - these came from elsewhere.

Despite what many in the print industry hope for, I doubt a Yes vote would lead to a sudden influx of journalists and newspapers swelling their ranks at the same time as the Wall St Journal, New York Times and RussiaTV set up large foreign bureaus to cover purely Scotland. The world now has enough stringers and freelancers that these news agencies can pick and choose from without needing huge staffing costs.

Equally, a No/Better Together vote will see little change - even if more broadcast and media powers are devolved, I doubt we'll see a rush of people to shore up the sector.


We are nowhere near finished with the changes of technology and the media - and while politicians would no doubt love to try and restrict it, that won't happen for one simple reason. The technology now is neither expensive or bulky. This is not the era of the large Guttenberg printing press, it's the era of the affordable mobile phone, the connected watch and the glasses that broadcast what you see live to the world.

On that note, many in the Scottish Press are still adjusting to the idea that print is no longer king. Indeed, I know of one news editor who is still convinced that the fad of the internet, social media and mobiles is a bubble that's about to burst. "It's had its day, people will come back to print soon as the novelty has worn off," is what they said. So we still have a road to go with the technology and the fact that people have changed their habits but the traditional media in many parts has been slow to adapt.

And this leads to the second point. It's also about the consumer. Most of the media is a commercial organisation and very few are seeing the huge amount of profits that would justify a rise in staffing figures. But equally, the consumer is going where they can to get the information they want in a way that they want it. And if that's not from what many would consider a traditional Scottish news source, they'll go elsewhere, even getting information from the likes of Buzzfeed.

One thing is certain. The Future of Media is going to be complex, quick-moving and far from dull. What it most likely won't be is impacted by the #indyref.

Weber Shandwick Scotland is sponsoring The Future of Scottish Media Debate (book tickets here) in April at with speakers including Craig McGill and the following:

  • Jeff Moriarty, Chief Digital and Product Officer, Johnston Press
  • Brian Wilson, Columnist, The Scotsman and West Highland Free Press
  • Douglas Fraser, Business Editor, BBC Scotland
  • Kate Higgins, one of Scotland's leading Bloggers, Citizen Journalist and Founder of A Burdz Eye View
  • Shaun Milne, Editor, Advance and Stream Content (Digital Publishing), STV Group Plc
  • Professor Raymond Boyle, University of Glasgow
  • Graham Bryce, Group Managing Director, Bauer Media, Northern England and Scotland
  • Dr Marisa De Andrade, University of Stirling
  • Sheena McDonald, Journalist and Broadcaster
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