Peter Preston – who was the editor of the Guardian for 20 years (1975-1995) – penned a brief little sketch about the demise of the Scottish press in yesterday’s Observer . Apart from the gaff of referring to the Scottish Parliament as an ‘assembly’ he seems to confer the failing Scottish media somehow on devolution itself. He seems also to ignore that, the, er, entire media landscape has changed in the past 13 years due to something called ‘the internet’. Finally he seems to have forgotten that new media forms have grown up in that time (including the one your reading). Here’s his article:
“It’s 13 years since Scotland got its own assembly, 13 years that have blotted out much cross-border news and – at least in theory – given Scotland’s indigenous media scope to grow and prosper. It’s 12 years – as supporting evidence for that buoyant theory – since the Scottish Media Group launched a brand new Sunday Herald in Glasgow, going head to head against Edinburgh’s Scotland on Sunday.
And today, the week of the country’s next election, with the Herald under ultimate transatlantic ownership by Gannett of Virginia, and Scotland on Sunday having passed from Thomson to the Barclay brothers to Johnston Press?
Well, a few days before the Sunday Herald launched, its great rival sold 130,000. And once the new Herald got up steam, it seemed to settle near the 60,000 sales mark. But in March, it sold 31,123, a 25.5% slump year-on-year, with scant sign of recovery from a poorly received January revamp.”
No doubt the SoS and the Herald are failing and intractably unionist-oriented and conservative, but the reasons for their failure are not as he describes.