Too often study of communicative and cultural processes makes 'gratuitous assumptions' about media and collective identities like national identity. This article is a critical engagement with Michael Billig's notion of `banal nationalism', a rare analysis of everyday media rhetoric and nationalism. It does this through a survey of daily newspapers sold in Scotland. Newspapers are plotted according to an index of semantic assumptions they make about where the spatial centre of national communication lies. The newspapers surveyed cluster into three broad national types, ranging from an indigenous Scottish press, Scottish editions of English-based papers, 'tabloid interlopers' and the English-based broadsheets. The article argues that Billig's emphasis on the 'big state' nationalism of the USA and the UK restricts the analytical scope of `banal nationalism' when studying newspaper rhetoric in a 'stateless nation' like Scotland.