British Politics

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 449–472 | Cite as

Whose voices are heard in the news? A study of sources in television coverage of the Scottish independence referendum

  • Marina DekavallaEmail author
  • Alenka Jelen-Sanchez
Original Article


This article explores the prominence of different types of sources in the coverage of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum on BBC Scotland’s regional news bulletin. It combines the most commonly used classifications of news sources in the literature and proposes an integrated taxonomy, in which official, unofficial, elite and non-elite sources may take on news-shaper or news-maker roles. This taxonomy is used to analyse the referendum coverage on BBC’s Reporting Scotland in the final month of the campaign. Findings suggest that, despite the presence of many types of sources, male-dominated political elites were the main focus in the news. Although the inclusion of some grassroots and citizen sources is encouraging, the coverage more broadly manifests a liberal democratic logic whereby the media represent the views of politicians and political organisations to the public, whose role is to make an informed choice between them, with comparatively limited opportunities to participate in the mediated political debate.


media sources independence referendum television Scotland 



Marina Dekavalla holds an ESRC Future Research Leaders award for the project: ‘Television framing of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum’, which is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/L010062/1). The coded data this study is based on can be accessed here: The recordings of the programme are available from the broadcaster.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Communications, Media and CultureUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

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