Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, addressed a pre-conference reception at the Scottish Parliament sponsored by Joan McAlpine MSP as Stirling University geared up to host the Media Communications and Cultural Studies Association’s first annual conference north of the border.
In her speech she lamented the declining income of printed press, a lack of new media regulation and the misuse of personal information: ‘A free and functioning independent media is the bedrock of a functioning democracy.’
Addressing the conference theme of ‘continuity and change’ she noted: “In terms of change, the biggest challenge facing the UK at this time is the decision to leave the European Union”. With the Scottish Government striving to prevent or at least minimise the damage of Brexit, Hyslop expanded on the importance of good communication to a healthy political landscape. “Language matters, and there’s a responsibility for the media to articulate what things actually mean.” She pointed that the Brexit abbreviation is often unhelpful and simplifies the complexity of the UK’s likely departure from the EU. She also pointed out that “No Deal” sounds very much like status quo, rather than referring to crashing out the EU with nothing at all to regulate the relationship: “You have to describe things as they actually are.”
Hyslop praised Scotland’s cosmopolitan media. Critical, independent and brave thinkers are required for the future, she said, and called on the teachers of tomorrow’s writers, journalists, photographers and film makers to foster and encourage those values.
The reception finished with a tour of the parliament and debate chamber by journalist turned MSP Joan McAlpine who hosted the event. Symbolically coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament, the conference’s celebration of Scotland’s increasingly self-confident cultural output was a reminder of how far the country has itself changed and developed.
The MeCCSA2019 pre-conference visit to the Scottish Parliament was a perfect way to start a conference that was held on Stirling University campus from 9-11 January. It was a reminder that what we do has ramifications beyond academia, particularly in terms of helping to shape national and international narratives at a time when democracy needs bold, brave and insightful voices.
For more information about the MeCCSA 2019 Conference please see: https://www.stir.ac.uk/meccsa2019
This post was written by Josh Martin and Alex Steven, student in MSc International Journalism