The lively award-winning monthly community newspaper serving the Outer Hebrides – Am Pàipear –
has launched a new subscription-based digital service at www.ampaipear.com
complementing its print edition. Subscribers, who can sign-up for either £2 a month or £20 a year, will be able to read a digital version of the newspaper, access exclusive online news delivered in text, audio and video formats, and listen to a new regular show, Am Podcast
, on Thursdays.
has been edited for the past eight years by South Uist-born, Iain Stephen Morrison, 34, whom, commendably, combines that role whilst also being a fully-fledged crofter on his father, mother and brother's large croft at Stillgarry, South Uist. Before taking up his current post, Morrison, whose first language is Gaelic, was a journalist with BBC Alba and BBC Radio nan Gaidheal.
The monthly, which sells at £1.50, is based in Balivanich on Benbecula and will have been in circulation for 45 years later this year. Although principally serving the 4,000 residents on the islands of Berneray, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay, it is available across the entire Western Isles.
Morrison told Scottish Review
: 'With the launch of the digital initiative, the staff team is determined to mark this milestone with ambition and a strong return from the challenges of COVID-19. Am Pàipear
seeks to be even more resilient as an enterprise in the long-term; sustain its service; reach new audiences; and continue to offer well-paid positions of employment within the media sector in the economically fragile Outer Hebrides.
'I should underline though, that while we are putting a huge emphasis on digital, we want print to remain the heart of our business. We have exciting plans to deliver news across all our platforms and, additionally, are looking to engage the next generation of our audience through content created especially for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. We have never been more committed to our mission to inform, entertain and support better connected islands.'
has created the role of graduate digital journalist to support development of the new online service, and Abigail Taylor, 23, was selected from almost 60 candidates UK-wide. Abigail is originally from Northern Ireland but has lived in Scotland since 2015. She is a graduate in journalism and politics from Stirling University where she edited the multi-award-winning student newspaper – Brig
. Morrison points out: 'We are indebted to Highlands and Islands Enterprise for believing in our vision and offering financial support towards our graduate digital journalist role through the ScotGrad programme'.
Joanna Peteranna, Head of Enterprise Support with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, told Scottish Review
: 'We are delighted to see Am Pàipear
evolve into new methods of news delivery through this innovative service. Am Pàipear
has played an important role in Uist for more than 40 years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have really highlighted just how important it is to have the ability to get accurate, relevant and up-to-date news out into people's homes.
'With more and more people of all generations able to access the internet, we hope this new development will reach audiences of all ages and ensure that Am Pàipear
can continue to serve the community for many years to come.'
One of Scotland's leading web development companies, mtc media, created the online platform for Am Pàipear
. Morrison says: 'I want to thank our partners at mtc media, who have captured our brand and created a world-class online home for Am Pàipear
. I am grateful to Alix Foreman, Scott Wilson, Kurt Scott and Karol Rusek, in particular, for their time, skill and commitment, along with the wider team at mtc media'. Foreman, who is business development executive of mtc media, said: 'Am Pàipear
had a clear vision for their online presence from the onset and have been a joy to work with'.
is a record six-time winner of the award for Community Newspaper of the Year and also a former winner of the prize for Best Use of Digital Media –
both in the Highlands and Islands Media Awards.
Splendid news from Dumfries on Bert Houston. He is still a very productive working journalist at the age of 87 and has firmly declared that he has no plans to retire. Houston has notched up 70 years covering news and sport in the Dumfries area, and is believed be the oldest working journalist in Scotland – and possibly the UK.
He began his career on the then Dumfriesshire newspapers –
subsequently working on short-term contracts or freelancing for multiple titles and broadcasting outlets. More recently, he has been covering courts, military issues and sport for titles including the Dumfries Courier
and the Dumfries & Galloway Standard,
as well as various news agencies.
The Dumfries Courier
paid tribute to him by featuring his milestone on its front page, as well as running a centre spread and a piece on the sports section. Its editor, Fiona Reid, whom edits all four newspapers in the DNG Media stable, told me: 'We couldn't miss the opportunity to celebrate Bert's achievements. He received a letter of recognition from the Prime Minister, a letter of congratulations from Lord Lieutenant (and TV journalist) Fiona Armstrong and a lifetime achievement award from David Mundell MP.
'In journalistic terms, Bert is a proper legend – and it comes as no surprise to me that he continues to work well into his 80s and has still as much of a nose for news now as he always has had. These letters and award are very well deserved and I am delighted that he has been recognised nationally for an outstanding career.'
Houston confided to the Dumfries & Galloway Standard
: 'If I had to sum up my journalism career in one sentence – I was in a constant fight with the clock. My biggest piece of advice for any journalist is that there is a story in everything if you only look hard enough'.
Dundee-headquartered publisher, DC Thomson Media, has been selected among eight European companies from more than 50 candidates for a Europe-wide Google project – Google News Initiative Subscriptions Lab – aimed at strengthening the digital subscription capabilities and growing reader revenue of its newspapers.
The announcement follows an overhaul by DC Thomson Media of its newspaper business which has seen the publisher of four daily and one Sunday title make substantial changes to its publishing model and focus on driving digital growth and subscriptions through its Apollo transformation programme.
The company's Head of News Brands, Richard Neville, told Scottish Review
: 'We are delighted to be taking part in the GNI Subscriptions Lab. Our focus is on delivering quality content to our readers. The specialist knowledge and insight this programme will provide will give our newsrooms a real boost and help us to drive revenue through our digital content. To extend our network of like-minded European publishers will also give us access to even more help, advice and good practice to learn from'.
DC Thomson Media is the only UK company chosen but the Irish Independent
is also taking part in the eight-month programme.
is running a new weekly politics podcast – The Steamie
– in the countdown to the Scottish Parliament election on 6 May. The podcast's title is a nod to The Scotsman's
original politics blog, with much of the 'talk o' the steamie' now happening online as Scotland starts its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The paper's political reporter, Conor Matchett, told readers: 'Too much of Scottish politics takes place on Twitter and other social media with the loss of nuance and respectful debate. The Steamie
will hopefully provide listeners, and those with an interest in the goings on in Holyrood and Westminster, a fresh, less fervent way into the issues. This is particularly important ahead of an election like no other, and at a key juncture in Scotland's history where often issues are skimmed over rather than examined in depth'.
My congratulations to the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard
weekly which has marked its 150th anniversary with a celebratory eight-page pull out. Editor Gordon Neish said: 'Looking back over the history of the paper, and particularly the editors who came before me, it's clear that I stand on the shoulders of giants. I aim to uphold the traditions of the paper while constantly looking to appeal to a modern audience'.
Peter Laidlaw, Managing Director of publishers, Argyll Media Ltd, points out: 'Over the years the leadership of the owners and editors has been vital and at no time more so than when facing the coronavirus pandemic of the last year. Our editor, Gordon Neish, has led an outstanding effort by all the team – reporters, advertising and production staff – to help keep the local community together in the face of unprecedented challenges'.