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)
’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)
’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.’
THE EVENING TIMES - Charles McGhee
ABC: 108,838 (July to December 1999)
’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.’