Bella Caledonia - We Need To Build A Better Model

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I'm extremely saddened by Bella Caledonia's closure. Not least because I've contributed to Mike and Kevin's site, but because it provided a constant slew of quality Op-Ed articles that always challenged the stories of the day, the current affairs that irked us, and the non-partisan way it fashioned questions, suggestions - really - with the context of Scottish politics, and quality, pertinent discourse at the forefront of its mind and endeavour.

O but tonight this is this rare for me - I'm actually getting the chance to write. I don't write anymore. I don't feel as if I'm particularly good at it, and to be honest I just don't have the time, but you might notice where I'm blogging: on KILTR. A technology company I've had the pleasure of working with for some 4-5 years now, or so... This is a company that has tried, and tried, AND tried to engage with all the new media sites in Scotland with a view to collaborating on a massive scale - a scalable, collaborative business that could bring all the disparate factions of the Scottish new media community onto one platform with true prospects of building something that could totally challenge our nemesis(s) in the mainstream media. Nemesis may be a strong word for you, but not for me. I see the Scottish overlaps every day, respectfully.

Sure - there are current affairs and disruptive new media sites out there - Wikileaks, obviously - De Correspondent in Holland, and the Conversation are all possibly three examples of sites that have successfully moved forward impartially with their content and are at least sites that I follow. At least. Possibly. Yes.

Now what is it that engenders a small media platform to have a future? Scalability - not crowdfunding. Not donations. As Kevin - the co-founder of Bella suggests below.

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The longer our peers and parallels continue to engage with the donations and crowdfunding models then the longer the stress is going to be laid at the door of the true brilliance of what they're actually seasoned to do - reporting, investigative journalism and well written Op-Eds, as at Bella. Their output, essentially, is being inconvenienced with the inhibitions that raising cash is inflicting upon them. It is a waste of their talents, and it is a waste of their precious time.

In the meantime - email me, and let's open new conversations with regard to how we can build a sustainable, thriving new media culture in the country that we love. Or don't. And we can all watch it go to shit. Henceforth this has to transcend our own interests - the micro levels we've all be working on CAN be consolidated and augmented into a whole, something a lot more powerful - greater than the sums of its parts.

I hope, I hope I hope...


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Diane McWade

Agree @Erik Worthwhile following through with Chris Cook who replied on twitter to my RT, very, very clever man, a neighbour, well connected too. Catch up soon. 👊

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Erik Sandberg

Saw that @DianeMcWade on the @KILTR Twitter last night - will follow up and have another lead too already regarding, cheers.

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Tumshie Heid

Your piece and the sadness/sense of inevitability at Mike's situation has me back on Kiltr (a little earlier than I thought and not sure what time I may have to contribute but hoping to get scribbling soon!) in a kind of surely all hands to the pumps are required now type of reaction Erik. I've been a subscriber to Bella for some time so have tried to contribute money wise as well as to the level of debate Mike maintained there. I have commented before about how the nature of Scotland's ad hoc new media model needs different funding structures but in that forum, I'm just a commenter, some dude on the internet.

My company is founded on the notion that the third sector suffers from the same kind of issues, a need to find sustainable and scalable funding models beyond initial funding rounds. We build it in from the ground up, gradually freeing the companys up more and more to concentrate further on what they set up to do and what they do best. Its real world stuff and sometimes the idealists at third sector clients struggle with it but I simply ask them if they want to apply for some funding, do a crowd source etc and want to be doing the same again in a years time or do they want to generate sustainable revenue so they can keep doing what they do without that worry; its like the difference between a quick use of fossil fuels now or renewables forever, it should be a no brainer but sometimes it takes a shock to the system, like maybe the thought of a yes movement without Bella or a Bella without Mike, might be...I hope!

Any contributions I can make, just holler sir!

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Diane McWade

One other thing that troubles me, I see Bella will carry on, good, but in 2014 it was the media wot done it in my view.

So two years down the line there's no collaborative winning strategy to address this large and potentially defeating problem for next time. Not that I can see. Everyone is just doing the same thing and you know what they say - If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got. - plus ca change.

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Erik Sandberg

Absolutely @DianeMcWade - I'm trying to organise a meeting with @bella-caledonia as we speak - hopefully some dialogue can be opened.

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