Journal

Scottish Independence Referendum 2014: Three Lessons from the BBC

18th September 2014. A historic moment for the UK as Scottish voted in a referendum, answering a simple question, but one which may impact many generations to come.

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

The Scottish Referendum Cupcakes
Image Source: The Edinburgh Reporter

It is in the wee morning hours in the UK but for me, being in the +8GMT timezone, I’ve logged on to BBC, running the live result shows on my dual screen while doing my work on my main that entire day. It is bit of a multitasking, but I can work and find out the latest news at the same time.

I’m exceptionally impressed with three things:

Filming in the Counting Stations

BBC actually got access to film inside the counting stations. You can see the counting process on TV. Of course, the film crew is unable to get into the area demarcated for counting, they are able to film up close from the sidelines, allowing the public to observe the counting process as well.

This, to me, was about trust, showing that there is nothing to hide about the voting process.

Reasons Behind Spoilt Votes

Every vote was accounted for. Reasons as to why votes were rejected and the corresponding number of votes that were rejected based on those reasons were announced. Rejected votes were categorised into the following reasons:

  • Marked with an unofficial mark
  • Voting in favour of both answers
  • Writing or mark by which the voter can be identified
  • Unmarked or void from uncertainty

This to me was accountability, showing that the vote counting process has been a fair one.

The third point, where votes were actually rejected because the voter can be identified impressed me the most. This to me was about protecting the voters, in case that the voters can be targeted due to the choice he or she made as he or she could be identified, they void and discounted those votes anyway.

Analysis from All Sides

BBC had neutral analysts, pro-union analysts, pro-SNP analysts and the public with them to do the live show. Such an arrangement gave depth and insights to the ethos, pathos and logos that are motivating the choice of the people from all sides. It gave the viewers a chance to hear from the other sides as well. Viewers are empowered to make their own judgement on how they would like to view the issue, giving them sufficient information to make a sound one.

I felt that this process also gave the minority a chance to understand why the results came out to be a certain way, gaining an appreciation of the democratic process so that they may agree to disagree more congenially.

What do you think?

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