After 8 years the groundbreaking Scottish online magazine Bella Caledonia [http://bellacaledonia.org.uk] is creating a brand new media format. Bella is Scotland’s ‘5th Estate’ – a new media model for citizen journalism riding the wave of the popular democratic uprising that has seen the independence movement insurgent in the last three years.
What started as a blog has turned into an online phenomena. With over 1 million views in one month alone last year, Bella Caledonia is storming ahead launching a new website and crowd fund appeal. The online magazine features music, articles, cartoons and film. In the last year it has published a column in gaelic, produced an album and hosted a sell-out concert in Glasgow. In the coming months it will publish an imprint of the best writing from the zine.
Writers include legendary Edinburgh author Irvine Welsh, but as editor Mike Small explains: “It’s not really about big names it’s about changing the whole feel and tone of the media so you gets lots of new voices flooding the cultural and political debate.
The UK has been falling apart for years and – now there’s a media to be the voice of the insurgent new movement for democracy.”
Bella is a response to Scotland’s rapidly changing political landscape. We think our new democracy needs a new media. We’ve been publishing since 2007 but now need to take the project to a higher level.
Our key aims are:
* To strengthen and connect the Scottish radical democratic movement
* To be the best place for comment, analysis and opinion
* To collaborate with other alternative media projects
* Bring unheard voices to public debate and discussion
Bella has writers all across the world: Justin Kenrick (in the Congo), Karen Emslie (Spain), Yiannis Baboulias(Athens), Kirsten Han (Singapore), Jack Ferguson (Amsterdam), and Smari McCarthy (Reykjavík).
Other people have written of Bella:
BBC journalist, Andrew Marr (‘Why I’m Torn Over Scotland’, New Statesman) : “The Scottish referendum is the first big story I’ve covered where you haven’t got a clue what’s going on if you don’t turn to online media. On the Yes side, the best site by far is Bella Caledonia, brimming with creativity, political punch and argument.”
Author and newspaper columnist Iain Macwhirter has written (Disunited Kingdom p. 89) : “At its best the internet material is very good, and some of the best politics writing is to be found on Bella Caledonia”.
Guardian columnist Kevin McKenna has written: “The writing on Bella Caledonia …itself is of a very high quality and daily challenges and surpasses that which appears in the country’s paid-for titles” adding: “In Scotland, newspaper sales have collapsed and the numbers of job losses in journalism have been unprecedented in the last decade or so. However, Scotland still produces many talented writers and blogs such as Bella Caledonia represent the long-term future of the industry.”
Bella Caledonia was named in the Top 10 Political Blogs in the UK (based on social sharing, topic-related content and post frequency), and the List had us as No 2 in their Top Scottish Websites of All Time.
For notes interview and comment contact the editor, Mike Small: [email protected]