Celtic Diary Thursday November 9: New Direction for Old Newspaper ?
A wee snippet crept by most of us the other day… something that indirectly was the real reason the BBC doorstepped Dermot Desmond, something that is also the reason why David Murray was never asked to explain his , er, business practices.
Or Dave King
Desmond has a company in the Isle of Man to maximise his revenue from a company in Switzerland. Not illegal, but arguably immoral.
King has a company based in the British Virgin Islands called New Oasis, which provides soft loans to keep his Ibrox entity afloat…but no one has asked him about that.
But could all that be about to change ?
The editors of The Herald and Evening Times newspapers are to leave their posts.
Graeme Smith, who became The Herald’s 27th editor a year ago, and Graham Shields, Evening Times editor since April 2016, will quit on 22 December.
Editor-in-chief Donald Martin said both editors had been “excellent ambassadors for their respective titles, and they leave behind a solid platform for a new executive team to build on”.
He added: “As part of the changes we will be creating a new combined role of Editor of our digital brand HeraldScotland.com and Deputy Editor of The Herald. In addition, we will be recruiting a Deputy Editor to take day to day operational responsibility for the Evening Times.
“We have a superb team and I look forward to working closely with them as we rise to the challenges of delivering compelling, unique content for our audiences.
The two Glasgow titles have been struggling to retain both readership and credibility of late, and it may be that the owners, Newsquest Scotland, have decided to take the papers in a new direction.
In February, the BBC reported that..
The Herald fell by 10% to 28,900 average daily sales in the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures.
The Evening Times, targeting Glasgow and the west of Scotland manages to shift 23,696 copies a day on average. Which is an embarassingly low percentage of its potential reach of around one million people.
So, clearly something had to be done, and a change at the top under these circumstances usually means a change in policy.
Will they pick the right people for the job, or will they draw their appointees from among the peepil ?
There are several candidates within the mainstream Scottish media for the posts, but none of them are particularly radical enough to halt the decline and turn it around.
An editor is like a circus ringmaster, he books the acts, but should let them get on with the show, and with the right amount of trust and freedom, that show becomes one worth paying for.
At the moment, only a fool would deny there is a conservative agenda throughout the country. The way things were is the way they must be and the way they must be in the future.
We only have to look at the demise of the Murray group and its subsequent return to see that certain figures in society are untouchable.
Somehow, the idea that things must never change has become the mainstay of all newspapers, not only in business, but in politics, sport and everyday life.
Things are bad right now, but if we tighten our belts, they’ll get better ..
People don’t buy papers any more because they don’t want to read them any more.
Its actually that simple.
As a result, to survive, the papers must take on more advertising, either straightforward or subliminal, as with the advertising features that pass as news these days.
And if a company advertise with that paper, it holds a disproportionate influence on the editor, who cannot risk losing that account.
Before, a company would place an account with a paper that sold well, and paid whatever the going rate was.
Now, as papers lose credibility and sales, and as other outlets for advertising become available, the advertising revenue is dropping, and its scaring the life out of the printed news industry.
It would take a brave editor in this climate to call in his staff and tell then to publish and be damned.
It would take a brave editor to send his hacks to uncover what went on at Murray Group, for instance, or at Rangers.
But at the Herald Group that opportunity is there…
Cast you mind back to the independence referendum, and the London based papers and the BBC…
That 45% of Scots managed to withstand the combined onslaught of the mass media is remarkable and praiseworthy.
The London owned titles lied, pure and simple, in the same way that they lied about Brexit and the EU.
And most people fell for it.
They still believe what they see on television, they still believe what they read in the papers, though realy its just the old maxim of repeating something over and over until the lie becomes a truth.
With new editors on the way at two Scottish papers there is an oppurtunity to open the windows and let in a bit of fresh air.
New media has plenty of promising and brave people who have chosen a different career path, and its only a perceived lack of credibility that is preventing a mass takeover of the old news establishment.
A change in direction by the two Glasgow titles, a willingness to report the facts, whoever they may upset, would see sales increase, it would see advertisers demand a place on their pages, and above all, it would spark a change in the fourth estate, at least in Scotland, that would make in society who hold a position of responsibility accountable for their actions.
Thats why we have newspapers.
Thats why its time for change, and a new direction.
Digital media is all well and good, but whilst the papers may see increased “clicks 2 on their articles, its only articles, and not the full newspaper, which should be produced as a whole, and not a collection of parts.
It’s what editors do, they put a narrative and a theme throughout each issue every day, and the reader can them see a bigger picture than he can by dabbling in just the stories that interest him.
One of the reasons politicians, for instance are getting away with so much these days is that few people “click ” on thise stories, and, of course, not enough are buying the papers or responding to editorial comment to make the issue worth pursuing.
That needs to change.
The Herald Group has that chance.
Don’t blow it.
This time there will be no way back.