Scottish referendum : NUJ condemns journalist attacks

BBC-reporter-Nick-Robinson
The NUJ has released a public letter in response to the bullying and harassment journalists have been subjected to in Scotland.

Following the deterioration of the media environment in Scotland the NUJ decided to release an in-depth letter to its members and the public to condemn the increased abuse and intimidation that journalists covering the referendum have faced.

As the polls get tighter ahead of this Thursday’s historic referendum which could see the UK break apart, the tempo of campaigning has reached fever pitch. However, a darker, more sinister side of the Scottish referendum has emerged, causing major concern in the media.

The NUJ highlighted today their concerns about the targeting of BBC coverage and the intimidation of BBC journalists in Scotland who have been reporting on the campaign as well as other incidents involving abusive threats online.

Paul Holleran, the NUJ’s Scottish organiser issued this statement today:

People have the right to protest if they believe strongly about an issue, however protesters outside the BBC offices in Glasgow this weekend have demanded that journalists be sacked, for allegedly being biased in favour of the union. Journalists in Edinburgh and Aberdeen were abused over the weekend when simply turning up to report on events organised by both sides. Others were on the receiving end of a range of abuse and intolerance on social media, some of which has been logged and maybe reported to the police.

We have also experienced a number of Labour MPs, accusing the corporation’s most experienced and talented journalists of political bias against the Better Together campaign. This highlights the fact that people on both sides are accusing the BBC of bias.

Robust debate is fine. Pointing out when journalists get their facts wrong is expected and welcomed. But NUJ members believe in a free press, a fair media, with journalists allowed to do their jobs free of intimidation. We hope the politicians and campaigners, and those who follow politics take this on board and act with a bit of maturity and understanding of the role of journalists in holding those in power to account.

What is totally unacceptable is the use of threats of violence. The NUJ has history of acting on this type of behaviour and Police Scotland has been supportive and has intervened when we have previously pursued such action.

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