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Former editor: Scottish dailies ‘living on borrowed time’

A former editor of The Herald in Scotland has spoken out about the future of the country’s regional daily newspapers saying they are ‘living on borrowed time’.

Charles McGhee, who stood down as Herald editor in 2008, was speaking as part of a discussion on the newspaper industry that was aired on Scottish television channel STV’s Scotland Tonight programme.

Said Charles: “Newspapers are living on borrowed time, particularly Scottish regional daily newspapers are living on borrowed time. I think the major national newspapers – such as The Sun, the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and The Times and so on – will continue to survive for quite a long time.

“But the economic base that has funded the journalism of newspapers like The Herald and The Scotsman – and many of our local papers in towns up and down the country – has disappeared, has gone online.

He added that the two newspapers, which are both losing sales at roughly ten per cent year-on-year, might not be here in ten years’ time if something radical doesn’t happen to change their fortunes.

The debate was prompted by a play called ‘Enquirer; currently being performed by the National Theatre of Scotland about the newspaper industry.

Charles McGhee was joined by Bill Leckie, of The Scottish Sun; Dorothy-Grace Elder, of the Scottish Daily Express, and blogger, Shelagh McKinlay.

Bill Leckie said one of the most worrying things about newspapers was that basic learning is being taken away.

He said: “I think the people who run newspapers – the accountants and a lot of owners – have forgotten that journalists are what make papers. If they would concentrate more resources on journalists, they would have better papers.”

The debate came at a time when the Nation Union of Journalists is calling on the Scottish Government to step in to save the media industry.

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish organiser, said “We believe there is a duty on government to intervene and help create a safer, robust environment for the press and media to operate.”

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  • May 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

    He can speak for himself. Last I checked The Courier in Dundee had a healthy bank balance. Its sales may well be declining (as with all others) but its multi-million pound profit margins seemed strong, And, because it’s a family-run business rather than a greedy expansion-at-all-costs congolmerate, it looks set to weather the storm far better, and for far longer, than many of the other regional/local publishers out there who stretched themselves wafer thin in the pursuit of the almighty pound and are paying the price now.

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