MEDIA: SCOTTISH NEWSPAPERS - The flowering of Scotland’s press Devolution has given the Scottish press a new agenda and titles are changing to combat competition from the ’tartan’ editions of the UK nationals.

The appointment of a new editor at the Scotsman - Rebecca Hardy was promoted from deputy last week - comes as the Edinburgh-based broadsheet is five weeks into a pounds 4 million effort to reposition the newspaper with a relaunch.

The appointment of a new editor at the Scotsman - Rebecca Hardy was

promoted from deputy last week - comes as the Edinburgh-based broadsheet

is five weeks into a pounds 4 million effort to reposition the newspaper

with a relaunch.

This relaunch involves a redesign, a new daily S2 second section, and

heaps of promotional activity. Perhaps, most crucially, the newspaper

has followed the Times in slashing its cover price in an effort to

entice new readers to sample it. The new price is 20 pence down from 45


this move has, according to sources at the newspaper, brought huge

circulation increases - as much as 40 per cent in the first week.

The Scotsman’s decision to relaunch follows redesigns at the newspaper’s

two Glasgow-based rivals, the Herald, and evening tabloid, the Evening

Times. These moves can be seen as representing a fight-back against the

Scottish editions of the UK red-tops and tabloid nationals which

launched ’tartan’ editions in the late-1990s.

This led to major circulation increases north of the border - largely at

the expense of the Scottish tabloid the Daily Record, which still sells

in excess of 600,000 copies.

The Scottish newspapers are also seeking to bring themselves up to


For example, the Scotsman’s new second section is comparable to the

Guardian’s G2 supplement. It includes lifestyle sections which have

become commonplace in the London-based papers, but less obvious in the

Scottish press. The challenge for the newspapers is to introduce this

new approach without alienating traditional readers.

While fending off the London predators, the two broadsheet daily titles

- the Scotsman and the Herald - are also competing against each


Scotland’s press has traditionally been dominated by regional titles,

and the papers believe that devolution has created the right atmosphere

to establish a strong national newspaper.

The cities in which the two papers are based have long been competitive

and Edinburgh’s elevation to a seat of democracy has exacerbated this

further, leading to a resurgence of city pride in Glasgow.

The position for the two Glasgow titles - especially the evening paper -

is complicated further by the political considerations relevant to

serving such a partisan city. The sensitivities of the Catholic Celtic

fans and the Protestant Rangers fans are never far from editors’


THE SCOTSMAN - Rebecca Hardy

ABC: 75,727 (July to December 1999)

Frequency: Daily

Position: Editor

’The changes are proving to be a huge success and we have been selling

more than 100,000 since the relaunch.

’We have attracted new readers and broadened our appeal. The idea is a

’cuckoo-in-the-nest’ one to attract new readers without alienating the

old ones, so we are introducing what the new readers want in the new

section and increasing the business and the politics in the existing


We are also committed to the price cut for the long term.

’We have introduced a tabloid section which will have lifestyle,

leisure, fashion, health and arts coverage. All our research suggested

that this is what our readers wanted - men as well as women.

’There was also a redesign which was quite subtle and we are confident

we will recapture some of the ground lost to London-based papers.

’It is no secret that the Scottish press has been slow to respond to the

changing face of newspapers, where readers want as much lifestyle as


’With the relaunch we decided to reposition the Scotsman as a newspaper

for a new Scotland and the figures are showing we are picking up in the

west and across the whole country.’

THE HERALD - Harry Reid

ABC: 100,603 (July to December 1999)

Frequency: Daily

Position: Editor

’We try to cover everything of significance in Scotland, and intensely

in our base constituency of Glasgow and west-central Scotland.

’Judging how much news to put in from outside Scotland is difficult.

There is always a degree of parochialism but we maintain three

journalists in Westminster - five in total in our London office - so we

have a good London service. We do foreign coverage but obviously we

cannot afford to have correspondents everywhere.

’We did a big redesign at the start of May which was very well received

- the appearance had become a little jaded. It is now more contemporary

and we are looking at developing the business pages. We know we have to

change but we must hold our core readers at the same time. The trick is

to keep evolving but at the same time make it appear the same.

’We are very pro-devolution - we never endorse a political party but we

campaigned strongly for a ’yes-yes’ vote in 1997, so much so that I

think we shocked some traditional readers. Our readers are all ages and

both genders equally. We do not really have many readers outside

Scotland, except perhaps a few in places like Brussels.’


ABC: 108,838 (July to December 1999)

Frequency: Nightly

Position: Editor

’We cover Glasgow and west-central Scotland, which involves just under

two million people - around half the population of Scotland.

About 85 per cent of the readers are in the greater Glasgow area. Our

competition tends to be the national tabloids which all have operations

up here. Our core readership is working class, although 39 per cent are


’We supply probably the most comprehensive local news coverage, but if

there is a big national or international story we will splash on


’We have changed the paper in the last few months. It had been very much

a red top tabloid, going head-to-head with the national titles. We

relaunched at the end of February, moving away from this market, and

gave it a distinctive new look. It was a gamble we felt was necessary.

Although it is still early days, we are pleased that the rate of

readership decline has been halved.

’Glasgow is a dynamic city these days and we are reflecting that.

Devolution has played a part in this. Glasgow was always the primary

Scottish city but since devolution the political focus has switched to

Edinburgh and Glasgow has felt overshadowed, so there has been a desire

to shout about it.’

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