By Frances Lengel
There was a correction in today’s Herald newspaper about their Faslane scare-story which acknowledged their 19k jobs total was ‘incorrect’ and headline ‘misleading’.
Just in case you missed it, it didn’t quite have the visual prominence of the original story, we’ve included it (above). For those of you with short-sight the maths are simple.
The Herald said there’d be 19,000 jobs at risk at Faslane.
Labour said there’d be 11,000 at risk.
The reality, under pressure, is that there are only 6,700 employed, of which about 500 relate to Trident.
So the Herald was only out by about 18,500.
Now here at Bella we are scrupulous about being even handed. So we read with some despair this account of the mishandling in the British Journalism Review of The Scotsman’s unraveling by Arthur MacMillan, news editor for Agence France-Presse (AFP):
The resurgence of politics in Scotland should have profited its national title, but it is now too late — the money’s running out
“The day after The Scotsman was sold to Johnston Press in 2005 for £160 million in cash, the latter’s highly-regarded chief executive appeared at the paper’s Edinburgh headquarters. Along with around 250 journalists and staff I listened intently to Tim Bowdler. “This is a great business and these are great newspapers,” he said of The Scotsman and its sister titles, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News, seeking to reassure anyone whose first instinct was that the new owners were a local newspaper outfit, not necessarily suited to owning Scotland’s national title.
After a tumultuous decade under the ownership of Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, however, there was an appetite for renewal and Johnston Press received a fairly warm welcome. Seizing the moment, Bowdler pointed out that the deal had the backing of Scotland’s top politicians, and though the reference was veiled he couldn’t resist a dig at the outgoing regime and the prodigal son who had led it. The son in question, present only in the minds of everyone listening, was Andrew Neil, the Paisley Grammar School boy who had conquered London at The Sunday Times in the 1980s and 1990s. A gallus and talented journalist who loved a fight, Neil had since tried to redraw the much smaller Scottish media market to his own liking, enraging many in the process. The sale of the Edinburgh papers, alongside scotsman.com – the group’s award-winning website – and a free newspaper franchise, said Neil’s critics, was confirmation that he had failed in his own land. With pleasantries dispensed, the new boss outlined his corporate thinking. Scotsman.com was key to growth and there was scope for improvement in the ageing, yet highly profitable, print business. There were no plans to cut jobs and the company would invest in content, Bowdler insisted. On the financial side, something Johnston Press was very interested in, there was a tax-efficient share purchase scheme that would allow staff to become “stakeholders” in the company. The message was unanimous: good times lay just around the corner.
By all accounts, however, the plan was not a success. Seven years later, the business has been sweated to stagnation. The website is a shadow of its former self. Resources have been slashed and hundreds of employees sacked. The Scotsman currently averages around 30,000 sales on weekdays.
Johnston Press, more than any other, is the British newspaper company that ate itself.”