Three of Scotland's leading and best-selling newspapers – the Sunday Post
, Daily Record
and Sunday Mail
– are losing sales on a relentlessly downward spiral. According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation ( ABC) figures for December 2019, year-on-year, DC Thomson's Sunday Post
saw its circulation drop by a staggering 19% to 87,335 copies.
This is a very dispiriting story for a newspaper which the Guinness Book of Records
once recorded had, in Scotland, the highest per capita readership anywhere in the world, and in 1969 had a total estimated readership of 2,931,000, representing more than 80% of the entire population of Scotland, aged 16 and over. As recently as 1999, it had a circulation of 700,000. In the new world of digital media, I reckon it will prove impossible to halt that steady loss of sales to any great extent. The sales of the Reach plc-owned Sunday Mail
dropped fairly alarmingly by 15% to 103,940 copies, and its sister paper, the Daily Record
, fell by a significant 12% to 104,906. These are the only Scottish daily and Sunday newspapers whose sales are now recorded by ABC.
Elsewhere, there is a mightily interesting circulation battle developing between the News Group Newspapers (NGN) and Daily Mail General Trust (DMGT), with The Sun
, after excluding bulk sales of 66,860, dropping 13% to 1,148,992 copies in December 2019 – only 7,814 copies ahead of the Daily Mail
, which fell by only 7% to 1,141,178. The Sun on Sunday
, after excluding bulk sales, dropped by 12% to 959,480, and is now only 4,983 copies ahead of the Mail on Sunday
, which fell by only 6% to 954,497. At this rate, it is only a matter of time before the Daily Mail
and Mail on Sunday
emerge as the UK's top-selling newspapers. I don't yet have the respective circulation figures for the Scottish editions of all four of these newspapers.
In an almost half-page promotional piece in Saturday's Daily Mail
, it was cock-a-hoop about its 'stunning success' in the ABC figures, pointing out that its Monday to Saturday sales reached their highest ever market share of 26%. It also pointed out: 'And on Saturdays, the Daily Mail
has increased its lead year-on-year by 38,000 copies – putting it 272,000 ahead of its nearest rival – The Sun
'. The price of the Saturday Daily Mail
has risen by 10p to £1.10, and it commented: 'This is the first rise for over three years, during which time the cost of many of our competitors has gone up far more. Even at £1.10, the Saturday Mail
is less than half the price of some rivals'. The price of the weekday Daily Mail
remains at 70p, and the Mail On Sunday
is £1.80. The weekday Scottish Sun
once again saw the smallest paid-for circulation drop among UK national newspapers in December 2019 – down only 2% to 163,449, while its stablemate, The Guardian
, kept its circulation decline to 5% for a sale of 133,412.
Telegraph Media Group (TMG), which owns the Daily Telegraph
and the Sunday Telegraph
, is pulling out of the ABC audit, claiming it is no longer a 'key metric' for its subscriber-first strategy. It will instead publish its core subscriber numbers each month as it focuses on its target of reaching 10 million registered users and one million paying subscribers by 2023. The latest ABC figures are the final time that TMG's two titles will be included. The Daily Telegraph
had a circulation of 317,817 in December, while the Sunday Telegraph
was on 248,288. Both were 12% down on December 2018.
The number of paying digital Daily Telegraph
subscribers has surpassed the number in print for the first time in its 164-year history. TMG said it had 213,868 digital subscribers and 209,443 in print in December, and said it had a 'very healthy' average revenue per subscription of £194. (TMG's 209,443 print circulation for the Daily Telegraph
in December does not correspond with the ABC figure of 317,817).
JPIMedia's editorial director for Scotland, Frank O'Donnell, is to become editor-in-chief of the DC Thomson-owned P&J
(the Press and Journal
) daily in Aberdeen in May, also overseeing the Evening Express
. O'Donnell has spent 19 years at Scotsman Publications (SP), editing The Scotsman
, Scotland on Sunday
and the Evening News
along the way, and he has light-heartedly pointed out that he has had 11 different positions in his 19-year stint at SP. His predecessor at the P&J
, Alan McCabe, along with Sunday Post
editor, Richard Prest, are on a long-term secondment as part of a Google-funded project designed to help DC Thomson create a 'more sustainable future'.
JPIMedia announced O'Donnell's departure along with the news of a restructuring of its titles in Scotland in line with its UK 'Digital Acceleration' editorial programme, already launched in England, which sees journalists focusing on producing digital content. A new all-Scotland top tier will be created, incorporating the three Edinburgh-based titles, the Falkirk Herald
, Fife Free Press
and the Southern Reporter
into the programme model. All the other Scottish weekly newspapers in the JPIMedia stable will form part of a small titles unit sitting alongside the digital acceleration structure. O'Donnell's departure is not a part of the restructuring programme and JPIMedia said it will be seeking a new editorial director for Scotland.
North of Scotland freelance, Iain Grant, has won a major award in recognition of his lifetime services to journalism in the Highlands and Islands. Caithness-based Iain will be presented with the Barron Trophy at the annual Highlands and Islands Press Ball and media awards ceremony at the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness, on Friday 7 February. Iain, whose home is in Thurso, was born in Renfrewshire and moved, aged 13, to Armadale, North Sutherland, where his late father John was a GP. He is married to Jane and they have three children.
As well as freelancing, predominantly for the P&J
, but serving all UK media outlets, he has also had a spell as editor of the British mainland's most northerly weekly newspapers – the Wick-based John O'Groat Journal
and the Caithness Courier
. Gordon Fyfe, chair of the judging panel, told Scottish Review: 'Iain is a most worthy winner of our prestigious trophy. He is a well-respected newsgatherer, known for the accuracy and quality of his reports and broadcasts. He has also made his mark on the Caithness community with his volunteering endeavours. I know just how much time he has devoted to playing, coaching and organising football and rugby in Caithness'. A number of category winners, including journalist of the year, will be announced on the night at the Inverness event.
Glasgow-born screenwriter, Krysty Wilson-Cairns, has been nominated for an Oscar in the original screenplay category at next month's Academy Awards on 20 February in Hollywood, for the war film, 1917
, which she co-wrote with the film's director Sam Mendes. 1917
has attracted 10 Oscar nominations, including for best film, and Mendes has been nominated as best director. The film won the best dramatic picture award and Mendes was voted best director at the recent Golden Globes Awards ceremony in Hollywood, and won best film category at the Producers Guild of America awards on 18 January.
Krysty, 32, grew up in a single-parent working-class household in Shawlands in Glasgow, and was privately educated at Craigholme School in the city. She studied digital film and television at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating in 2009. She then spent a year at the BBC Comedy Unit in Glasgow before moving to London, where she gained an MA in screenwriting from the National Film and Television School. Krysty sold her first film script for the science fiction thriller Aether
, which provided her breakthrough by leading to a staff writer role on the US television series Penny Dreadful
. She was named as one of the top 10 'Screenwriters to Watch' by the entertainment trade magazine Variety
in 2019. Her next project is Edgar Wright's psychological horror film, Last Night in Soho
, for which she has co-written the screenplay with Wright, and will also have a cameo role as a bartender.
Canada's most influential daily newspaper, the upmarket, right-of-centre The Globe and Mail
(circulation: 291,571), which, ultimately, is owned by the Thomson Corporation Inc, is vehemently opposed to Harry and Meghan's plans to reside in Canada. It said in an editorial that the suggestion of residence was breaking an 'unspoken constitutional taboo' and advised the couple: 'You are welcome to visit, but so long as you are senior royals, Canada cannot allow you to come to stay'. It added that while the Queen is Canada's monarch, she and the monarchy 'neither rules nor resides. They reign from a distance. Close to our hearts, far from our hearths'.
Thomson Corporation once owned a string of national and regional newspapers in the UK, including The Times
, Sunday Times
, The Scotsman
and the P&J
, and is well-versed on the monarchy and the British Establishment.