Dundee-based major publisher DC Thomson is significantly upping its efforts to halt the steady haemorrhaging of readers from its flagship newspaper – the Sunday Post
. At the weekend it targeted potential new readers in north and north-east Scotland with a half-price voucher offer which was featured very prominently via a large house ad on the front page of its Aberdeen-based daily, the Press & Journal
. The offer cut the cover price of the Post
from £2 to £1. Urgent remedial action is needed because, by July, the Post's
circulation had slumped to 95,015 sales – down 17% year-on-year.
Of course, DC Thomson has deep pockets and has always been a very financially astute firm. In the year-end March 2018, the company had total revenue of £207.3m – up 2.9% year-on-year, with pre-tax profit climbing to £71.4m – up from £54m the previous year. Significantly, circulation sales generated nearly double the income made from advertising – a ratio of 66% to 34% which enabled DC Thomson to report: 'This ratio gives our business more protection against advertising declines than many publishing businesses, and it is important in the context of the competition from businesses such as Facebook and Google'.
On a historical note, back in 1969 the Sunday Post
had a staggering estimated readership of 2,931,000 – 80% of the entire Scottish population of folk over 16 years. The Guinness Book of Records
recorded that its circulation once represented the highest newspaper readership penetration in the world per head of population. As to the current circulation woes, it is not as if the Post
is giving its readers a poor editorial product. Far from it. On Sunday, it offered a 72-page main paper including six pages of sport; a 24-page sports supplement titled Post Match
, and a 52-page very readable colour magazine called P.S
. An added bonus was a full print replica of the 36-page Sunday Post
of 3 September 1939, on the eve of the declaration of the second world war. The cover price was twopence.
Interestingly the half-price offer co-incided with the P&J's
cover price rising by 10p – from £1.20 to £1.30, Monday to Friday, and to £1.50 on Saturdays. The P&J
is the UK's top selling regional daily newspaper with a heathy circulation of around 45,000 copies. However, there are concerns about its advertising revenue in the face of increasing competition from other media strands, including the internet. On Saturday, the P&J
took time to explain to its readers the reasoning behind its 10p rise and outlined the raison d'etre of the ethos of the newspaper. A news story on page 2 read: 'Each time you buy a copy of the Press & Journal
, you are making an investment in the local journalism which sits at the heart of what we do. We don't take your support for granted and we try to serve our communities by maintaining the high standards you have come to expect from us'.
Then we came to the nub of the matter as the P&J
explained: 'The connection we have with these communities is something we value and we believe that it is valued by our readers in these uncertain times. However, we are facing battles against a changing media and wider economic landscape with the rise of unregulated social media, increasing costs in recent years, and competition for advertising from less locally focused internet rivals. Our challenge is to ensure that the editorial quality and production values are upheld. We understand that raising the price will not be popular but it will enable us to continue to produce our unique blend of local, regional and national news, sport, business, farming and features. We also provide a platform for issues and voices that may otherwise go unheard and we know that we remain, for many, the first port of call when it comes to local community news'.
The BBC launched a new politics programme on BBC Two on Wednesday of this week (4 September). The Andrew Neil Show
will run live for half-an-hour every Wednesday at 7pm, and feature, according to the BBC, 'in-depth analysis and forensic questioning' of major politicians as well as a round-up of current major political stories. It means that Neil, a former editor of the Sunday Times
, will continue to have his own show after his late-night BBC One politics chat show, This Week
, has ended after 16 years, following his decision to step down from late-night broadcasting.
Neil, who will also continue to host the midday BBC Two programme, Politics Live
, on a Thursday, said: 'The autumn of 2019 is destined to be one of the most intriguing and significant in British politics for at least a generation. I'm delighted to be fronting a weekly show in prime time on BBC Two that will be on top of the story, whatever direction it takes'.
BBC News director Fran Unsworth said that Neil's recent interviews with Tory party leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt had been hailed as a 'masterclass of political interviewing', adding: 'As Britain moves towards the Brexit deadline, this show will be a must-watch for anyone who wants to understand what's going on'.
It's surprising that the BBC hasn't given the show a 60-minute spot – in direct competition with the hour-long Channel 4 News
bulletin. This Week's
11.30pm Thursday timeslot will be replaced from next month by Brexitcast
– the BBC's podcast about Brexit fronted by its political editor Laura Kuenssberg and Europe editor Katya Adler.
An interesting schedules development on the TV weekend political programming front is that Sky News
has brought forward its hour-long Sophie Ridge on Sunday
programme to a 8.30am start to avoid a clash with The Andrew Marr Show
on BBC One. However, unknown to Sky, Marr's show has been brought forward an hour to 9am from this Sunday.
Meanwhile Sky News
political correspondent, Lewis Goodall, is joining BBC Two's nightly current affairs show, Newsnight
, as policy editor. Goodall was a producer/reporter with Newsnight
before switching to Sky News
in 2017. Somehow I don't think his new colleagues at the BBC will be too chuffed with his valedictory remarks on his imminent departure from Sky. Says Goodall: 'I am leaving with a heavy heart. It (Sky News
) has the best politics team in Westminster. It is the imp in the machine of broadcast news with a unique spirit. They have given me opportunities I would have received nowhere else. The British media is so enriched for its presence'.
DC Thomson Media is welcoming home its prodigal son, David Clegg, to be the new editor of its flagship daily newspaper The Courier.
David will take over the editor's chair next month when the current editor, Catriona MacInnes, retires after 30 years with the company and two years as editor of The Courier
. Clegg is political editor and an assistant editor of the Daily Record
which has wasted no time in lining up a replacement – Paul Hutcheon, the politics and investigations editor at the Herald on Sunday
Clegg is a former political editor of The Courier
. He moved to the Daily Record
in 2012. He was named Journalist of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards in April this year, and has previously been awarded the Political Journalist of the Year title four times. Clegg, a very friendly and charismatic chap, said of his appointment: 'I am delighted to be "coming home" to DC Thomson Media at such an exciting time for business and the wider Courier
country. I cannot wait to get back to work with the talented team at The Courier
and play my part in telling the region's fantastic story'.
And the man who lured him back to Dundee, Richard Neville, head of newspapers at DC Thomson Media, commented: 'We're delighted to have David joining us as editor of The Courier
. He is one of the stars of Scottish journalism and has a proven track record in both regional and national newspapers. He will be a fantastic leader for The Courier
team and will bring a new perspective to a title he knows very well'.
I hope that Clegg will inject more dynamism and reader-friendly facets to its news and features pages, as well as more humour to what is a somewhat staid daily newspaper. The Courier
has a daily sale of around 33,000 copies. When Clegg was political editor of The Courier
before departing to Glasgow, he wrote an extremely readable and oft controversial Saturday column/diary which wasn't afraid to extract the urine from the good and the great of the Scottish establishment and particularly our political class. More of the same, please David.
Co-incidentally, Paul Hutcheon's father, Bill, is a former editor of The Courier
. Hutcheon, 42, joined the Sunday Herald
in 2004 as its Scottish political editor, going on to become its investigations editor. When Newsquest closed the Sunday Herald
and replaced it with the Herald on Sunday
, he was appointed politics and investigations editor. He has been named Journalist of the Year three times at the Scottish Press Awards and been Political Journalist of the Year on five separate occasions.
Daily Record editor-in-chief David Dick said: 'Paul is one of the finest journalists in the country and I am absolutely delighted he is joining the outstanding team at Scotland's newspaper of the year. Our political coverage is second to none and he will be a great addition to our brilliant team of political reporters across the group including the Daily Record's
Andy Phillip at Holyrood and Torcuil Crichton at Westminister, John Ferguson at the Sunday Mail
and Tom Martin at the Scottish Daily Express
The tabloid-size P&J
regional newspaper has been intriguing regular readers these past few days with in-house ads announcing that this week 'for one day only we go large!', with visions that the daily might revert to broadsheet format for the day, but equally thinking that it would be pretty expensive to set up the presses for just one day.
All was revealed on Tuesday (3 September) when the P&J
produced a 20-page special broadsheet colour pull-out printed on top-quality newsprint, titled: Destination Aberdeen – A place to Build Your Future
, explaining that the Granite City is a Global City
, and pointing out: 'From high on the east coast of Scotland, the Aberdeen city region has, and continues to, punch above its weight. We're open to the world'. The supplement carried an impressive amount of advertising and the paper also carried a 70-page inserted issue of its Energy Voice
is currently the UK Regional Daily Newspaper of the Year and the pull-out will have impressed the expected 36,000 people, many of them oil and gas professionals from across 130 countries, in Aberdeen for the biennial four-day SPE Offshore Europe exhibition and conference which got underway on Tuesday. It is the first-ever event at P&J Live, the recently opened £333m exhibition and conference complex close to Aberdeen International Airport in Dyce on the outskirts of the city. The P&J Energy Voice Gold Awards presentation ceremony, which was being held in association with Aberdeen Standard Investments on Friday night, was being hosted by BBC TV business reporter and presenter, Ben Thompson.