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Scotland’s papers ‘simply not good enough’ says website boss

A website editor is asking readers to donate money for its re-launch in a bid to safeguard the future of Scottish journalism’ – claiming the country’s newspapers are ‘”simply not good enough”

Stewart Kirkpatrick, who set up the Caledonian Mercury last year, said in a blog post that newspapers have lost sights of their readers by focusing on advertisers and shareholders.

“Scotland’s newspapers are dying.  Soon they will be gone.  Their circulations are plummeting because they are simply not good enough,” he wrote.

“This is no reflection on the battered survivors clinging to their jobs in Scotland’s empty newsrooms. There are only so many bricks they can make from dwindling amounts of straw.”

Stewart was writing in the wake of the recent announcement of 90 job losses at the Daily Record, the paper where he started his career.

He is asking readers of the Mercury – along with “all those interested in the survival of Scottish journalism” – to donate cash to help fund the site’s relaunch.

“Scotland is about to enter a crucial decision-making period with a maimed and crippled media, incapable of properly enabling the debate we need to have,” he wrote.

“The Caledonian Mercury, imperfect as it is, is an attempt by journalists to do something about that”

“The Mercury will be re-launched soon, with the promise of a better site and more writers and a wider range of  services. To fund the relaunch readers are being asked to become ‘founders’ of the online publication.

“The ‘Caley Merc’ is a statement of belief in quality Scottish journalism, an act of faith and a line in the sand. We have proved our commitment to in-depth, intelligent, independent journalism – and to being an honest broker for all the voices of Scotland.”

The Mercury won the award for multimedia publisher of the year at the National Union of Journalists Regional Press Awards held last year.

Stewart founded the site after leaving The Scotsman, which he now describes as a “poor, lost” newspaper for which he nevertheless still holds “a deep affection.”


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  • June 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

    It’s not just Scotland. Newsrooms all over Britain have been savagely stripped and yet directors still expect quality papers and web sites. It’s unrealistic.
    Question is can websites makes decent money? Most haven’t so far especially the local ones.
    Good luck to the Merc.

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  • June 29, 2011 at 10:15 am

    It’s a difficult one this. In many ways I agree with Stewart – not on Scottish newspapers but on English – and I share his same frustrations. I also believe smaller (staff wise) websites run properly by people who care are the future of journalism, not corporate monsters. However, I don’t like a begging bowl like this. Stewart has to find ways to fund his website, which from experience I know is very, very difficult. Only hard work makes them pay at the moment – I do work on a website that has literally knocked the traditional media for six in the town it covers and it is still tough to make money . Conversely, the protection and help the traditional media seem to be getting – especially in terms of asking for Government help, forcing councils to advertise in them etc – sits equally uneasily with me. Sadly, it should all be a bit of a free-for-all in my view – no outside help and survival of the fittest.

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  • June 29, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Stewart has hit the nail on the head, but it’s not only Scotland. No reporters in the community, out and about every day = no readers!

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  • June 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    The root problem with the UK’s media is that they all hysterically believe that giving away news & features for almost nothing via online services WILL make them millions.

    When media owners first decided to rush like lemmings into online, IBM & Microsoft – two of the world’s most powerful companies – looked at this business model and quickly came to the conclusion that it was a quick road to bankrupcy.

    For years IBM has made more money from selling & managing online services than it does on hardware. The bosses know this, so why aren’t they charging a realistic price. I have been covering IT & business for over 30 years – and know that customers will pay good money for online if they really want it. If they don’t, then our employers should stop playhing silly b*****s and effectively market their print and broadcasting titles/channels.

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