Just when it seemed that Edinburgh and Glasgow's newspaper titles, epitomised by The Scotsman
and The Herald
, would soon be members of the same newspaper group – Newsquest – there now could be a much different scenario following reports that former Local World newspaper group chief executive, David Montgomery, could be the surprise new buyer of JPI Media. Media website HoldTheFrontPage (HTFP) reported: 'David Montgomery is said to be the surprise new front-runner amid unconfirmed reports that Newsquest had dropped out of the race'.
It had seemed Newsquest was poised to buy JPIMedia after Reach plc announced it was pulling out of the bidding war. Meanwhile, JPIMedia unloaded its flagship i
national daily to the Daily Mail's
stable for £49.6m. One cannot blame the lay person for being more than a bit confused by the wheeling and dealing involving three of the UK's largest newspaper groups – Reach plc, Newsquest and JPIMedia – and this newcomer, National World.
Local World had been a consortium of regional newspaper publishers and investors which bought Northcliffe Media, and then sold it on to Trinity Mirror – now Reach – in 2015. Montgomery has now formed this new company – National World – as a takeover vehicle with the aim of building a stake in the UK newspaper sector. The Financial Times
reported that Montgomery was invited in for detailed takeover discussions by JPIMedia at the weekend.
Meanwhile John Toner, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) national organiser, said journalists on JPIMedia's Scottish titles, which include The Scotsman
, Scotland on Sunday
and the Evening News
, plus a number of weekly titles, have expressed their anxiety over the prospect of a takeover. Toner pointed out: 'We remind any potential owner that it remains the position of the joint NUJ chapel in Edinburgh that any threat of compulsory redundancies will trigger a ballot for industrial action'.
HTFP had earlier reported: 'Newsquest is believed to have secured "preferred bidder" status for JPIMedia's regional titles after topping Reach's estimated £50m bid for the company... the move clears the way for a merger between JPIMedia and Newsquest, although this is expected to be subject to a Competition and Markets Authority investigation focusing on the two companies' Scottish portfolios. It is estimated that such an investigation would take around four months, during which time Newsquest would operate JPIMedia's major Scottish titles... as a separate business'.
Newsquest Scotland own The Herald
, Herald on Sunday
, Evening Times
, The National
and the National on Sunday
, plus a number of Scottish weekly newspapers. The Herald
and Herald on Sunday
face compulsory editorial redundancies should voluntary redundancies not be forthcoming. The NUJ chapel is holding an industrial action ballot which closes on 9 December.
In a trading update, Reach had confirmed that 'it is no longer in active discusssions about acquiring certain of JPIMedia's assets,' adding: 'Merger and acquisition opportunities which would accelerate the company's strategy will continue to be reviewed on a regular and disciplined basis'. In a message to staff, confirming the sale of the i
daily to Daily Mail General Trust (DMGT), all JPIMedia chief executive David King would say on possible other sales was: 'I will update you further on progress with the regional newspaper business review in due course'. JPIMedia has debts of around £175m.
Reach plc's portfolio of titles include the Daily Record
and Sunday Mail
, Scottish Daily Express
and Scottish Sunday Express
, the Daily Star
, the Paisley Daily Express
and a number of Scottish weekly newspapers and websites. And it is set to launch seven new websites under its 'Live' brand in 2020, some in direct competition with JPIMedia and Newsquest brands. Around 45 journalists are being recruited for its new sites in cities including Sheffield, Newport, Bradford and Sunderland. In recent years, it has launched Edinburgh Live, Glasgow Live, Belfast Live, Leeds Live and Lancs Live.
DMGT's purchase of the i
national daily has been predicted for some time. In his newspaper last Saturday, the i's
editor, Oliver Duff, wryly commented: 'Good morning. After four owners in four years, we are finally settling down. As with every other change in i's
ownership, you won't notice any difference in our journalism, which will remain independent and politically impartial. Our staff and contributors continue just as they are'. He welcomed the news that DMGT had told the City that it intended to invest in i's
journalism and also that it had issued public guarantees of editorial independence.
Two Scottish entries are through to the final of the Press Gazette's British Journalism Awards, which will be held in the Hilton Bankside, London, on Tuesday 10 December. The awards attracted 560 entries and required 60 judges. Every major UK journalism organisation has submitted entries. Press Gazette editor-in-chief Dominic Ponsford said: 'Because our entry criteria is so strict, publications really do only enter their best work, making the jobs of the judges particularly hard. With only about 20% of entries making it to the short-lists, being a finalist is a superb achievement in itself'. Finalists from Scotland in the Foreign Affairs category are Jean Mackenzie and Hayley Valentine from The Nine
/BBC Scotland with The Rise of the Right
; and Mark Daly, BBC Panorama
, in the Sports category. Dundee-born broadcaster Eddie Mair is a finalist in two sections with the same entry – Interviewer of the Year and Political Journalism categories – with Eddie Mair Grills Liz Truss over austerity, Brexit and more
Women in Journalism (WIJ) has appointed author Barbara Taylor Bradford as its first ambassador. Taylor Bradford, a pioneering female journalist, will use the role to raise the profile of the organisation in both the UK and the US, where she now lives. WIJ was founded by former Sunday Mirror
and Sunday Express
editor Eve Pollard 25 years ago and currently has 650 members. Its current chair is Sunday Times
editorial direct Eleanor Mills. Taylor Bradford, 86, who has written 34 novels, began her career as the only woman in the reporters' room at the Yorkshire Evening Post
in 1948. She moved to London, aged 18, and was appointed women's editor at Women's Own
before becoming one of Fleet Street's first female reporters at the London Evening News
. She went to the US after marrying a Hollywood producer and began writing a syndicated interior design and lifestyle column that appeared three times a week in 183 newspapers for 12 years. At a WIJ dinner to celebrate her new role, she said: 'I'm a journalist down to the very bottom of my toes and like nothing better than being in a room with my peers'.
Congratulations to two Scottish newspaper trainee journalists and two student journalists for featuring prominently on the prize list at the National Council for Training of Journalists (NCTJ) annual journalism skills conference. Edinburgh's Evening News
produced two award-winners: Shona Elliott, for her community news project, and Conor Matchett for the top scoop/ exclusive. The third award went to Gianni Marini and Greg Ockrim of Glasgow Caledonian University for the student multimedia story/campaign.
John Wilson was presented with the NCTJ Chairman's award for 2019 – the training body's top honour – for his outstanding contribution to journalism training and education. He retired in June after 37 years with JPIMedia and its predecessor companies. He became group editorial trainer for Johnston Press in 2006 and editorial learning and development manager in 2015 – training hundreds of journalists across the business.
Presenting John with his award, NCTJ chairman, Kim Fletcher, said: 'John is a brilliant trainer and outstanding communicator who is held in the highest esteem by all those who have worked and trained with him. Generous, modest, warm-hearted, patient, passionate about his craft and his beliefs, and universally regarded as a true gentleman and a genuinely lovely man, John is a fountain of knowledge and renowned for his professionalism and calmness'.