Activists hope pro-indy site Bella Caledonia overcomes funding difficulties
THE FUTURE OF ONE OF SCOTLAND’S MOST INFLUENTIAL online media organisations hangs in the balance this week after the disclosure from Bella Caledonia that it is facing closure.
Bella, which is into its tenth year as a media group, was one of the forerunners of new media – publishing political and cultural content from a pro-independence, leftwing perspective.
The site, founded by Mike Small and Kevin Williamson in 2007, grew to become one of the most important voices during the independence referendum and provided a platform for hundreds of writers across the globe.
“The board is looking at other funding models and is appealing for urgent help to finance the magazine in a more permanent way in a year when a second independence referendum is very likely to be called.” Bella Caledonia Advisory Board
Yesterday (Sunday 8 January) editor Mike Small shocked readers and supporters with a short message entitled “Bella Caledonia 2007-2017”.
Small said: “Thanks to everyone for their support over the years, to the board members and writers who gave their time and to everybody who supported us financially and who took part in the debate.
“Couldn’t quite manage to do it.”
Activists and journalists took to social media expressing their support for Small and Bella, hoping that a solution can be found to keep the organisation afloat.
Bella has built up a sizeable following on social media of almost 50,000 people on Twitter, a Facebook group with almost 14,000 members, and has been regularly cited as one of the most important places for debate and discussion within the independence movement.
Its advisory board released a further statement explaining the circumstance the site finds itself in: “The Advisory Board of Bella Caledonia confirms we are going to have to make the decision to close, unless an urgent fundraising appeal can be met.
“Mike Small has advised that despite his commitment to Bella, he will have to step down as editor as the position is too financially precarious and he is actively seeking other work. The board is looking at other funding models and is appealing for urgent help to finance the magazine in a more permanent way in a year when a second independence referendum is very likely to be called.
“Regardless of the outcome the Board and contributors of Bella would like to thank Mike for a decade of work – mostly unpaid but always cheerful, professional, imaginative and dedicated. Mike and our diverse range of writers have made Bella a successful online magazine and we hope that legacy can continue in some form.
“We thank you for your support and patience in this time as we decide how to continue. The Bella Oidhche Challain cèilidh will still take place this Thursday in the Glad Cafe at 19:30.”
New media in Scotland has boomed over the past decade – including successful political sites such as Bella, Newsnet Scotland, Wings Over Scotland, and Independence Live.
Their success was part of the impetus behind the launch of The National, as Scotland’s only daily pro-independence print newspaper.
However, new media has also faced ongoing funding challenges.
In October 2015 NewsShaft announced it would close due to a financial shortfall.
Bella Caledonia will still host a cèilidh at the Glad Cafe in Glasgow this Thursday at 7.30pm. (12 January). You can book tickets here.
Picture: Bella Caledonia
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