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Dyson at Large: Making readers feel important


I started to shiver when stepping off the train at Glasgow Central Station, but The Sunday Post’s page one boosts alone almost warmed me up.

‘Your fuel bill paid for a year worth £2,000′ I was told, with a jolly couple in woolly hats and scarves pictured to drive home the cosy offer.

Next to it was ‘Be the first to own an Oor Wullie scarf’ boost, this time illustrated by a cheeky chappie wrapped in Scotland’s favourite cartoon character’s tartan attire.

Providing further cheer on the front was a picture of May Barr from Dumfries who’d pocketed £2,000 in the Post’s ‘Cash Bingo’ competition.


These were all fine, reader-related reasons to pay the £1 cover price on 14 November, but competitions were not the only way the DC Thomson title directly involved its audience.

I liked the way the letters section on page 38 was titled ‘Readers Page’, giving them real ownership, and offering £25 for the ‘Star Letter’ and £20 for the ‘Reader’s pic’ selected.

Another example of warming the audience was ‘The Queries Man’ on page 40, answering a total of ten readers’ queries and allowing another nine to be asked for the next week.

They were fantastic, for example: “Can anyone help me find a knitting pattern for a lady’s cardigan with a deer motif?” and “Can any reader help me find a small accordion for my father? I’m willing to pay.”

A page of doctor’s advice and ‘The doc replies’ snippets on page 54 offered a similar service for the health conscious, and were again fascinating for any reader: “My nose has been cold for six months. I take tablets for high blood pressure. Could it be due to long-term medication?”

Even the splash, exposing the failure of the Air Transport Users Council to get compensation for travellers hit by the volcanic ash cloud disruption, was made ‘reader-friendly’.

It highlighted the specific cases of named and pictured local victims on the spread on pages 10 and 11, and was published under a ‘Raw Deal Special’ banner.

‘Raw Deal’ is yet another regular section in the Post on page 20 under the strapline ‘The page that gets things done’… although not yet in this case.

These and more sections all created the sentiment that this paper was ‘yours’ and that you could find several bits of information useful to you every week.

The Post’s head office is actually based in Dundee, but it had to be this week’s review after copies were given to every delegate attending the Society of Editor’s Conference in Glasgow by editor Donald Martin, this year’s SoE president.

Like many urban Scottish titles, the Post was packed with hard news peculiar to the Celtic nation, my favourites including:

  • ‘Boss fears bad Goodie will be stabbing victim’ on page three, highlighting Dundee United’s worries for their star striker David Goodwillie, who likes his nights on the town;

  • ‘Families at risk from radiation on the beach’ on page five, reporting health concerns caused by the luminous dials of wrecked warplanes which were bulldozed in Dalgety Bay, Fife, after World War 2;

  • ‘Murder victim’s son may stand at election’ on page 17, telling how Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill faces a challenge from John MacLellan, furious at the lack on answers about the impending release of his father’s killer; and

  • ‘Cafe culture is fuelling Scots binge drinking’ on page 27, revealing that those north of the border are choosing alcoholic instead of caffeine shots at their local coffee shops, (surprise, surprise!)

    The total pagination was 88, with 44 of them carrying more than 200 news and feature reads, plus a spread of TV and radio listings and a whole page of Oor Wullie and The Broons cartoon strips.

    There were another 94 reports in 17 pages of sport, plus a double-page spread packed with results and league tables.

    Regular columnists appeared throughout the paper, including entire pages for breakfast TV presenter Lorraine Kelly on page 21, award-winning journalist Lesley Riddoch on page 23 and football legend Alan Brazil on page 76.

    One of the other things I strangely liked was the fact that 24 pages out of 88 were black and white: whether by design or press restrictions, this gave the Post a traditional feel.

    The Scots are known for loving their own Sunday papers, and while there have been declines the Post was still selling 328,710 a week in the latest figures I could find.

  • Sex-ad rating: ten out of ten – not a single one.

    Read Steve’s previous blog posts here



  • Steve Dyson worked in the regional press for 20 years, editing weekly, Sunday and daily newspapers in the North East and the Midlands from 2002 until the end of 2009. To contact him, email steve.dysonmedia@googlemail.com.

    Steve’s blog is available via an RSS feed. Click here to subscribe.

  • 7 comments

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    • November 18, 2010 at 10:04 am
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      Totally agree that the Post is a great paper. I’ve read it a few times on holidays to Scotland and always found it an entertaining, intelligent package. Also, at 328,710 copies, it sells much more than dreary English ‘nationals’ like The Independent and Independent on Sunday.

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    • November 18, 2010 at 10:35 am
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      As a Scottish journalist working in England, I am amazed there is nothing like this in England. It’s a great newspaper/magazine. BTW, Steve, you might need to employ a sub – May won £24,000, not £2,000!!!

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    • November 18, 2010 at 11:54 am
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      328,000!!!! Does that make it the biggest regional newspaper in Britain? I think it does.

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    • November 18, 2010 at 11:56 am
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      An interesting semantic one, that. I think it would probably consider itself a Scottish national title.

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    • November 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm
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      Rich: although the p1 headline says ‘£24,000 Cash Bingo’ if you can see the caption, it explains that May Barr’s share was just £2,000′.

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    • November 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm
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      My mistake ed! I assumed it was regional because it comes out of Dundee… That said, 328,000 for a non-UK wide national knocks most others into a cocked hat – eg Wales on Sunday, Scotland on Sunday. Doesn’t it?

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