Oh, how Kenneth Roy
puts his finger on the reasons for the decline of the local press. My brothers started their careers with the Falkirk Herald and Kirkintilloch Herald in the 1960s so 'Young Fred' and Tom McGowan were names that were talked about a lot in our household.
I didn't start my career in newspapers until 1981 when I went to work for the Galloway Gazette. Iain Brown [its proprietor] may have been a difficult man to work for but in the three years I was there I learned about the importance of the local paper and the crucial role it had (I use the past tense deliberately) in holding councillors to account and reporting on serious stories affecting their circulation areas. Brown got involved in real local issues and more or less singlehandedly oversaw the fundraising that resulted in the reopening of Newton Stewart cinema.
I then went to work for Scottish & Universal in Dumfries, working on the Dumfries and Galloway Standard under Alastair Warren and in my mind the even greater Elizabeth Martin – a woman who once again understood the job a local newspaper had to do. Between the Galloway News and the Standard we had a general manager, two editors, an advertising manager, circulation manager, production manager, accounts manager, an admin staff of 10, a dozen of so advertising sales people and about 20 editorial staff. Oh yes, and we printed in the town.
The rot set in when printing moved to Irvine and our deadlines became earlier. These days, although I now live on the south coast of England, I believe the staff of the Standard and Galloway News – those actually employed in Dumfries and Galloway – amounts to no more than a dozen. Oh, and please don't ask me about the Galloway Gazette. Iain Brown, if he's still around, must be despairing. Under Johnston Press ownership, it's not even a husk of a once great paper – there's not that much of it left.
The local press worked when it was local and understood its locality and employed local people. Sadly I don't think there is any way back for once great and well-respected titles.
While I pretty much agree with a lot of what Gerry Hassan
says in his article, in one respect at least he is totally wrong. To say that Scottish principals get their salaries 'all at our expense' is to suggest that universities' income comes soley from the public purse. In fact they operate in a mixed economy which includes student fees and research income from various sources, consultancies etc. So good article, but please get the facts right.
The only way such a review (Bobby Stewart
on the service he received in an Edinburgh New Town bar) can have any credibility is if the howf in question is named and shamed.
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