Nothing at the top but timidity, conventionality and emptiness…

Scotland’s once feared Press is fairly in the doldrums.

We all know it. This blog has increased its readership considerably because of it.

Friends and former colleagues remain the true professionals they are in spite of it and the worries such uncertainties bring.

Talks of strikes here, there and everywhere; of people being sacked and told to re-apply for jobs; expenses shredded; jobs cuts for Christmas.

The home grown Scottish papers are fairly up against it, while the Scottish editions of those run from London, at least, appear to be growing from strength to strength.

In the latest British Journalism Review, former Scotland on Sunday and Sunday Herald reporter Arthur MacMillan has penned a lament about the state our nation’s Fourth Estate finds itself in.

It is a worthy read.

But while I find myself nodding in agreement with much of what he says, I’d hate to think that there cannot be hope for the future also.

There must come a tipping point, surely, when great journalism has to come first.

When inspired writing, the lust for information, that little nugget that makes one piece better than the rest will spark a desire from the reader to want it – however it is presented.

The web is here, with all the video, podcasts and links you could shake a spike at.

But that should be made to work and enhance existing journalistic strengths, to make news better.

Not as cost-cutting by stealth as seems to be the case in some groups.

There is a reason we have sub-editors, artists and the rest.

It isn’t only to make the words fit – it is where necessary to improve them, to ensure accuracy, house style even.

To allow others to concentrate on their own jobs, instead of having to worry about another’s.

Yes, technology can allow for shrinkage in numbers.

But cost-cutting for money’s sake will only result in mistakes, diminishing standards and ultimately, the death of titles as we know them.

We see it happening.

As Arthur points out, The Scotsman and The Herald titles are on their knees.

The NUJ claims the Daily Record is at least 15 journalists down, no longer Scotland’s Champion.

But how invigorating would it be to see a Trust, Co-Op or filthy rich businessman ride to the rescue, to stop the asset stripping and instead invest.

Not merely as a vanity product or to promote their own interests.

But to preserve the fundamentals of good journalism, to give the country a paper it can be proud of again in this the most potent of political times for Scotland.

And to show, once and for all, that moneymen on their own can’t make newspapers work.

The can only facilitate the means which allow proper newspaper folks to do so.

To empower journalists to not just tell the news, but investigate, educate and campaign.

And reap the benefits from their endeavors as a consequence, rather than keeping a worried eye on the share price and wonder which cut to make next.

Categories: Blogs

1 reply

  1. I would love to think that there were a couple of Carnegie’s out there who would happily pay the cash for a truly modern title or two in Scotland, but there’s far too many problems and not enough return on the investment.
    And that’s before we even ask another question: is there enough newspaper talent left in Scotland for a couple of decent titles?

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