Our report calls for a new strategy to support the Scottish media

A new report by the University of Glasgow has called for a new strategy to support and strengthen the media in Scotland.

The report - Scotland’s Sustainable Media Future: Challenges and Opportunities – is based on extensive interviews drawn from civic society, the media industry, government and regulatory bodies.

It was written by academic from the Glasgow University Media Group and the Glasgow Centre for Cultural Policy Research at the University of Glasgow.

The stakeholder conversations have taken place in the shadow of continued challenges to the financial viability of public interest journalism, public service broadcasting and cultural media in both the public and commercial sectors. The changing needs of Scotland as a political unit within the UK and European media landscapes, and a perceived lack of quality across the Scottish media’s output more generally are also key issues discussed in the report.

Dr Catherine Happer, Director of the Glasgow University Media Group at the University of Glasgow, said: “Scotland has historically had a huge appetite for news – media contributes hugely to the economy and is essential to our national identity and supporting an informed electorate. 

“There is no shortage of talent and energy. This new report is a way to open up a dialogue about ways in which media might be supported to produce quality Scottish journalism, and to facilitate a referendum discussion which does not have to rely on misinformation, half-truths and personality-led rhetoric.”

The report calls for new research into funding models for Scotland’s media including an examination of comparable small territories such as Quebec and Denmark which have invested significantly in their media sectors.

A new consensus is also needed, the report says, in the funding and structure of public service broadcasting in Scotland, in particular reflecting Scottish specific needs. It also argues in a period of cutbacks by successive governments, public service broadcasting must be free of political interference from Downing Street in London and Bute House in Edinburgh.

The report also states that large part of the media in the UK, including Scotland, have failed to adequately hold political decision makers to account. New research must investigate how to raise journalist standards as well as exploring the legal and financial measures to support journalists.

Research is also needed on how to support and develop community-embedded journalism and using social media as a new democratic space to promote a diversity of Scottish voices.

The report says that there has been “an erosion of trust in mainstream media” rooted in a much broader and deeper crisis of trust in public institutions. Building trust in the media among the public, will help address fundamental questions such climate emergency, pandemics, and economic crises.

Alongside building trust in the media, greater research is need, the report states, to build recognition for the work of journalists as a part of the democratic process and to ensure their safety and freedom from harassment and intimidation.

In June this year, the Scottish Government’s Working Group’s recommendation to establish a Scottish Public Interest Journalism Institute – an independent body to support the resilience and sustainability of the sector through research, grant making, training, and promoting media literacy. This idea was broadly welcomed by participants at the University of Glasgow report workshop but funding quality journalism remains a problem in Scotland.

Scotland’s Sustainable Media Future: Challenges and Opportunities

Scotland’s Sustainable Media Future: Challenges and Opportunities Report was written by academics from the Glasgow University Media Group and Centre for Cultural Policy Research at the University of Glasgow. Read the full report here

The report authors are

  • Catherine Happer, Director, Glasgow University Media Group and UofG Senior Lecturer, Sociology.
  • Philip Schlesinger, UofG Professor in Cultural Theory and Deputy Director of CREATe..
  • Ana Ines Langer, UofG Senior Lecturer, Politics.
  • Hayes Mabweazara, UofG Senior Lecturer, Sociology.
  • Dominic Hinde, UofG Lecturer, Sociology.

The Glasgow University Media Group is an expert research group based in the Department of Sociology at the University of Glasgow. Its research director is Catherine Happer.

The Glasgow Centre for Cultural Policy Research is one of Europe’s leading cultural policy research groups, presently conducting research on media and communications regulation and the media industries alongside a wide range of work on cultural and creative industries policies.

This research has been wholly funded by the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow.



First published: 3 October 2022