In My View - Referendum one year on

The front page of the Mearns Leader published the day of the referendum
The front page of the Mearns Leader published the day of the referendum

I can’t believe a year has flown by since the Scottish Independence Referendum.

Time appears to be going so fast, it feels like just yesterday I was up at Mackie Academy for the ‘mock referendum’ with a year to go.

For the benefit of everyone I will declare two things. One, I am not a member of any political party and two, every election I have voted differently.

Talking about the referendum is a bit of a risk on my end because I believe there is still a lot of ill feeling on both sides. Truth be told I hated covering any referendum stories for the Leader and Observer last year. It felt like no matter what was reported, someone, somewhere was going to accuse us of bias and we were, by both sides, on more than one occasion. Writing this column regularly I’m used to getting stick and I’m happy to discuss my views with anyone. The views expressed in here are entirely my own, not the Mearns Leader’s and not my colleagues’.

I did hate covering the referendum. However it was a once in a generation experience - or so it should be - from a journalistic point of view. I don’t want to cover another Scottish independence referendum.

I had no idea which way to vote simply because I had information overload. There was so much information, misinformation and rumours that in truth I didn’t know what to believe when time came to cast my ballot.

There was one story regarding the referendum that I will hold my hands up and admit that I ‘chickened’ out completely of covering. It was when Jim Murphy rocked up with his Irn Bru crate in Stonehaven. If I did anyone in Kincardine and Mearns a disservice for not covering it then I am sorry. I truly am, however one of the reasons I didn’t cover it was due to the fact that Mr Murphy was late and I wasn’t given the access of talking to him one on one before he carried on. Another reason was I couldn’t form a coherent story regarding what went on that day. Someone asked a question, someone shouted, someone else shouted and someone else shouted something I didn’t catch. It wouldn’t have made a very great headline.

I mentioned earlier how much I hated covering the referendum. The bickering that went on online by both sides was childish. We covered a story about graffiti and were accused of being biased, which led to an argument on who’s graffiti was worse. To get into the teacher role, I found it disgusting. Graffiti is graffiti, don’t start differentiating to make your side look better. We were a local paper covering graffiti in the town, we weren’t covering up or blowing anything out of proportion. We simply stated that there had been graffiti and that police wanted anyone with any information to come forward.

Yes, there were national papers who put their views on the mast. However as a local paper getting lumped with them was personally upsetting. We were two reporters trying to cover facts in a world where selective facts were getting used to prove, disprove, sway and reinforce beliefs. We were also two reporters who hadn’t made their own minds up and who wanted to stay neutral through the paper.

What the referendum almost did was ruin my love for journalism and I considered leaving my role as a reporter. I felt the abuse from both sides wasn’t worth it and I was glad when it was over.