JOURNALISM: Working with police issues during COVID


Chief Constable Iain Livingstone and Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

By Bill Heaney

The National Union of Journalists wants to hear from reporters and photographers who feel their work is being obstructed by the police during lockdown.

Nick McGowan-Lowe, of the union’s Glasgow office said: “The NUJ is continuing to collate incidents where our members face difficulties reporting during COVID lockdowns, and issues that arise dealing with police and others. Please continue to keep us informed at”

He pointed out: “At the start of the COVID crisis the NUJ’s Scottish Office sought assurances from Fiona Hyslop that journalists would be able to have freedom of movement during lockdown.”

Ms Hyslop told him: “I would like to assure you that we expect our public authorities to allow journalists reporting on the current crisis to have the freedom of movement they require to do their important work.

“I have asked my officials to ensure that this is communicated to Police Scotland and the Chief Constable [Iain Livingstone] has highlighted that they will take a proportionate response.”

One can only hope that “public authorities” includes local government where usual customs and practices involving the media have been withdrawn from The Democrat.

Meanwhile, dinosaurs such as West Dunbartonshire Council, are coming to accept that digital newspapers such as The Dumbarton Democrat have a much larger readership than print.

More than 43m people turned to local news in the UK last month, new data has revealed.

The latest Comscore data for the UK shows 43.5m people visited websites operated by the regional press during January, up from 39.9m the previous January.

In January 2020, 75% of the UK population read local news, growing to 85.6% by January 2021.

The data also showed that a typical reader is seeing up to 26 stories a month from the local press, up two on the previous year.

The number of people reading news from more than one local news provider also rose, up from 20.1m a year ago to 23.3m. This means 45% of the UK digital population uses more than one local, independent news source.

The figures also show growth on December 2020, when 43.1m adults used local news in the UK, a total of 84% of the population.

A busy newspaper office before new technology was introduced to replace typewriters.


  1. Now there’s a surprise in Nicola Sturgeons Scotland – journalists being obstructed by Police Scotland.

    Mark Hirst and Craig Murray certainly know about that. But so do many others and the call by the NUJ is to assess just how extensive this Police obstruction is.

    Of course the very same Police who issue fines to individuals against individuals have no such issues when it comes to high Tories and their entourage coming to traverse Scotland on an electioneering political show. No problem at all as the recent Boris Johnson circus show demonstrated. Police Scotland were only too happy to help.

    But it’s wider than that again as the continuing legal censorship of testimony by Alex Salmond to the Parliament more than shows.

  2. And if anyone is in any doubt about journalistic suppression then they need to consider the journalist – producer Mark Hirst.

    With a Police raid on his house, his property was searched from top to bottom by five police officers, all his computers and phones seized, whereafter he was charged with offences that eight months later in the Sheriff Court resulted in him being acquitted with ‘ no charges to answer’

    No wonder journalist now fear reporting in Nicola Sturgeon’s new Scotland. No wonder they fear the SNPs Hate Crime Bill. They have every reason to!

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