Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Future of newspapers part I, part II and part III

Part I

I'm  very exercised by the fact that readers in the Western Isles can't get a copy of their daily newspaper now until the ferry arrives in the afternoon.

Loganair, the airline that supplied the islanders with their daily blatt, has upped their freight prices and made the exercise uneconomic, which is a huge blow to the reading public, the newsagents and the life on the edge.

My brother Donald Crichton is at the forefront of the campaign to have the decision reversed or to reach a happy compromise, hopefully that will bear some fruit.

Of course, I have a personal stake in all this (if we don't sell newspapers my job is on the line, and not just online). Also, one of the regular joys of going home is being able to read all the papers in the morning without having to actually do anything about what they contain - a pleasure denied.

For anyone feeling deprived of their morning read can I recommend the Daily Record App for your i-Pad which gives you an excellent "read as you see it in print" view of the paper. The app is free to download and free to read.

Not every bodach on Lewis has an i-Fhad yet, I realise, and the wireless connection leaves a lot to desired, but they're working on it I'm told. It probably is the future.

Part II

Other newspaper apps are available. I'm thinking of having to sign up for The Times app myself, just to make sure I can keep up with some of the Scottish news and comment from fellow Leosach Anguish MacLeod and others.

Michael Settle, my Herald colleague in the lobby, pointed out this morning that the Balkanisation of the British press is now almost complete. Of all the London papers today only the Financial Times carried an account of the Treasury report on the options for a Scottish currency post-independence.

I'm sure all the Scottish editions of the national newspapers did but readers in England are being deprived of the referendum debate which, believe me, they do have an interest in.

Despite the appetite news editors prefer to ghettoise Scottish news into Scottish editions. Breaking news - there are 800,000 Scots in England and a whole lot of other people who want to have a stake, and a voice, in the debate. Nationalism will be strengthened when England turns it back on Scotland, and the London newspapers are shaping that kind of future

Part III

This is a great time to be a Scottish journalist. There are huge stories to look forward to - from  the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup - and every day throws up a new twist on the path to a referendum.

Times are hard, people are losing their jobs in each year of newspaper cuts,  but during the Scottish Press Awards last week all the speeches seemed to largely reflect the huge uncertainty we feel as an industry, and the legal challenges, with little fanfare about the opportunities we face as a profession.

I felt we were being a bit hard on ourselves, especially when the room was brimful of talented people being patted on the back for doing a great job.

We are feeling a bit fragile I suppose (I certainly was), but the choice is to embrace what is a great period for newswriting, or just live in fear of the future.

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