1. New editors at The National and Glasgow Times
Newsquest has completed a clean sweep of female editor appointments at its Glasgow daily titles following the appointment of Catherine Salmond as the first woman to edit The Herald
in its 239-year history. Stacey Mullen has taken over at the Glasgow Times
, while Laura Webster becomes editor of The National
Stewart Ward has been appointed managing editor of both print titles, and will also edit the Sunday National
. Both the Glasgow Times
and The National
were previously edited by Callum Baird, who is now editor-in-chief of Newsquest Scotland.
The print editions of both newspapers are being produced by a new combined production team headed by Stewart Ward who has been appointed to the new role of managing editor. He will also edit the Sunday National
. All three new editors will report to Callum Baird in their new roles.
Callum Baird is now editor-in-chief of Newsquest Scotland. He previously edited both the Glasgow Times
and The National,
while the Sunday National
was edited by Roxanne Sorooshian. She resigned in October to take up a full-time lecturing post in journalism at City of Glasgow College.
Stacey Mullen, previously assistant editor of the Glasgow Times
, tells us: 'I am a proud Glaswegian and it is a huge honour for me to be editor of the Glasgow Times
. This is a newspaper I have adored reading since I was a little girl and now I am leading its future coverage of Glasgow on our growing digital platforms. With the support of my amazing team, I want our title to be the number one choice for news in Glasgow and I promise to continue being a voice for the communities we serve'.
Laura Webster, formerly news and features editor at The National
, told Scottish Review
: 'Since joining The National
in 2018, it has been non-stop. There have been four Prime Ministers and four elections, and general political chaos to underline everything. We will continue showcasing the very best news, features and analysis our journalists have to offer; tell the stories about Scotland which need to be heard; and develop our digital media output even further'.
Stewart Ward pointed out: 'Callum Baird, Roxanne Sorooshian, Richard Walker and the Sunday National's
top team have established such a really strong identity for this title since it took up the torch from the Sunday Herald
. We lead our nation's political conversation on a Sunday – with a fantastic offering on culture, history and the environment to boot. In my years at The National
I have been inspired by the energy of the grassroots independence movement – it is that same dedication and drive I hope to bring to the editor's role'.
Callum Baird declared: 'Stacey has done a brilliant job in driving the traffic of the Glasgow Times
in the last few months. She has shown great leadership to build a new team of exceptional digital journalists and deliver huge audience growth in a very short time – achieving our targets with a strong focus on good local Glasgow stories.
'Laura has led The National's
content strategy this year as news and features editor and she has been a major factor in our growth in digital subscriptions and engagement across all platforms since joining us in 2018. I have been carrying out the editor's role at The National
now for more than seven years – I wouldn't be passing this title on if I didn't think it was in very safe hands. I am excited to see where Laura takes the title next.
'Stewart has done an excellent job overseeing the Sunday National
since the departure of Roxanne, and, as part of his expanded new role, he will also edit the Sunday National
2. Kamal Ahmed is new president of the Society of Editors
Kamal Ahmed, currently editor-in-chief and co-founder of The News Movement, has been elected as the new president of the Society of Editors (SoE).
Kamal, a former editorial director and economics editor of BBC News, was unanimously elected at the Society's AGM. He takes over from Martin Breen, deputy editor-in-chief of Northern Ireland's Belfast Telegraph
and Sunday Life
. Alison Phillips, editor of the Daily Mirror
, has been elected as vice-president.
Kamal told Scottish Review
: 'I am very honoured to be asked to be the president of the Society of Editors. The Society has a vital role in upholding the value of great journalism, freedom of expression, promoting diversity and supporting the brilliant and vital media industry we enjoy and are so fortunate to have in the UK. As a mixed-black person, I am also very aware that throughout my career I have often been the first person of colour
to have been afforded senior roles in the industry. That is not because I was better than anyone who went before, but because media is changing – and I have been fortunate enough to have mentors and supporters who were willing to take a chance on a kid with big hair from a bog-ordinary background in west London.
'We know we have a lot more to do. But the destination is clear and the Society itself has had its own difficult moments. From that we have learned, and with Alison Phillips, Ian MacGregor, Dawn Alford, the highly skilled board and the SoE team, we will constantly support a more diverse, more engaging, more successful media industry.'
Alison Phillips added: 'There has not been a time in our recent history where threats to the press and wider media have been quite so concerning. We have a huge job on our hands to keep fighting for a free press which ensures we can live in a decently run democracy. In addition, there is a growing need for us to explain the importance of a free press to the wider public – some of whom take too much for granted. And while our industry has taken steps to do better around diversity, there is still a huge amount of work to be done. This is something that will be at the forefront of our minds in the coming year'.
Will Hagerty, associate editor at The Sun,
Lucy Rock, deputy editor of The Observer
and Joseph Harker, senior editor (Diversity and Development) at The Guardian
, were all elected to the SoE board.
3. BBC has problems with liberal bias… says its own chairman
BBC chairman Richard Sharp has confessed that the broadcaster 'does have a liberal bias' and admits it is 'fighting against it'. A former Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan banker, Richard admits that the BBC has been too London-centric and warned that the broadcaster has to 'raise our game'.
He told The Sunday Times
that Brexit had come as a 'big surprise to the BBC'. He added: 'The BBC didn't understand the mind
of the country'.
Richard, who donates his £160,000 BBC salary to charity, suggested ongoing efforts to transfer departments to the north of England, Scotland and Wales would help ensure the same mistakes are not made again.
He referred to former BBC Newsnight
presenter Emily Maitlis's monologue about the Dominic Cummings trip to Barnard Castle during lockdown, which the BBC itself ruled had breached impartiality rules. Richard claimed Maitlis was 'wrong' and stressed the BBC is not a 'campaigning institution'. He explained: 'Our approach is to present the facts and not to lead with a broadcaster's opinion'.
He also highlighted areas where he believes the BBC needs to improve. On its business coverage, he admitted: 'I have got Bloomberg TV on in here for a reason. It is excellent. We have to raise our game'.
He praised the BBC's correspondents and editors as 'first-rate' but said that the topics of business and finance 'are not as well understood as they should be' across the BBC. Richard stressed: 'We need to do a better job of explaining them – especially when inflation is forcing the government and the opposition to make very difficult choices'.
Richard succeeded Sir David Clementi in February 2021 as the BBC faced increasing scrutiny over issues including equal pay, diversity, free TV licences for the over-75s and competition from streaming services such as Netflix.
He and director-general Tim Davie introduced a 10-point plan encompassing impartiality, anti-bias training and reviews of news output.
4. John Ryley steps down as head of Sky News
John Ryley is stepping down as head of Sky News after 17 years. John, who has been with Sky for 28 years, began his career as a BBC graduate news trainee and went on to be programme editor of ITV's News at Ten
before joining Sky in 1995 as an output editor. He was appointed executive editor in 2000 and head of news in 2006. In 2021, he was awarded an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Royal Television Society which said he had 'effected genuine change in our industry,' adding: 'His style is innovative, idiosyncratic. His integrity, influence and authority colossal'.
5. Wordle: The most Googled word
BBC digital journalist, Brandon Drenon, tells us: 'Americans dug for new word definitions in Google this year, looking up terms like tacit
– driven by a nearly singular pursuit – Wordle. The word Wordle itself crowned the top spot as Google's most searched term globally and in the US in 2022. The searches were revealed by the tech giant in their annual Year in Search
Released by Welsh-born software engineer Josh Wardle in 2021, the viral web-based word game's simplicity has found mass appeal. Users are given a maximum of six attempts to guess the word of the day. It is always a five-letter word and the word is the same for everyone. Wordle, which was sold to the New York Times Company by Wardle in January, became so popular that Google searches from desperate players looking for answers affected other top Google searches. Seven of the top 10 searched-for word definitions in 2022 were Wordle answers – including cacao
Drenon explains: 'Major events also made an impact in online searches. The death of Queen Elizabeth II in September made the top five for overall global search interest. Ukraine was the third most widely searched term. As far as celebrities go, Johnny Depp topped the search-interest charts among actors following his defamation case against Amber Heard over the summer. Depp was followed by Will Smith, who made headlines after slapping comedian Chris Rock live onstage in front of millions tuned into the Academy Awards. Tennis icon Serena Williams appeared as the number two most-searched athlete in the US – flung into the spotlight by the announcement of her retirement and the media storm trailing Williams' final moments of her last US Open'.
Drenon continues: 'And Googlers in the US showed a keen interest in getting rich quick. Lottery games Mega Millions and Powerball numbers were high in the top 10 search-interest spots in the US and globally'.
The Google trend report also made note of the interesting ways in which users searched for information, like taking a photograph, speaking into the phone and… humming! Phones today use algorithms to solve that common conundrum of 'what's this song?' And users can hum, whistle or sing 10-15 seconds of a melody into their phone to figure out what song might be stuck in their heads. These trending lists, according to Google, are based on the terms that had the highest spike in searches in 2022 compared to previous years.
6. Publishers urged to let journalists build own identities
Publishers are being urged to let individual journalists build their own identities rather than the corporate brands of the titles they work for – aimed at attracting younger audiences on social media platforms such as TikTok.
(HTFP) reports that a new study by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University has examined the Chinese-owned video hosting service's relationship with journalism and how it can be best utilised by publishers. HTFP tells us: 'Researchers interviewed people working in newsrooms around the world for the project, including staff at The News Movement, a social media-first news service in which UK regional newspaper publisher National World bought a $1.25m stake in November in a bid to attract a younger audience to its titles'.
The News Movement, which has 63,000 followers on TikTok, told Reuters Institute that it 'is still learning what works but says that young people identify more with personalities than they do with brands'. The News Movement's head of audience, Valentina Park, explained: 'This is why TikTok allows creators and news organisations like us that are fresh to the scene to have resonance. The way that authenticity comes through is through our journalists – not necessarily through an opaque brand'.
The research revealed that 81% of UK news organisations currently have some form of presence on TikTok. However, in a report on the study's findings, Reuters Institute senior research associate, Nic Newman, questioned whether publishers would be able to monetise TikTok, or similar platforms, in the near future.
Newman writes: 'Commercial publishers would like to find ways to be compensated for the value they provide to the platform. This could be direct payments or access to the creator fund that allocates money for popular posts. Short videos do not lend themselves to interruptive advertising but publishers would like the ability to put onward links to websites or apps, which is currently very limited. These links would also make sponsored posts more viable as it would provide a way for advertisers to track further interest.
'It is still relatively early days and platform features are constantly changing. TikTok has raised the maximum length of videos to 10 minutes and is pushing longer live streams. It is also trialling a subscription model – similar to Amazon's live-streaming platform, Twitch, in which fans pay to gain better access to a creator's channel. These approaches may open up more monetisation options in the future but are mainly aimed at incentivising creators. Until there is a clearer monetisation path for publishers, investments are likely to be constrained.'
7. Reach to launch a dedicated operation in US in 2023
Reach plc is to launch a dedicated operation in the US next year and current staff are being invited to apply for a raft of newly-created roles and overseas secondments.
The expansion will see the launch of US operations for Reach's national titles: the Daily Mirror
, Daily Express
and the Irish Daily Star
. There will be a new online version of the Irish Daily Star
which is currently a print-only title in Ireland. The new site will launch as IrishStar.com
and will cater for Irish-Americans, with individual correspondents covering New York City, Boston and Pennsylvania.
Reach said: 'Recruitment has begun across reporting, social media, multimedia and editor roles for jobs to start in the new year. Current staff are also invited to apply for roles and overseas secondments. We will begin hiring journalists already based in the US in the coming months and are planning to secure a New York office'.
Reach will also bolster its 24/7 sports coverage to more closely serve US-based soccer fans – especially for the Manchester Evening News
, and for Liverpool.com
which covers Liverpool FC.
Reach's editor-in-chief, Lloyd Embley, explained: 'The experience and data we have gathered over recent years – both on our existing national titles and from launching dozens of newsbrands from scratch, will ensure we are in a strong position to take advantage of this opportunity to reach millions more readers every day'.
8. Edinburgh International Film Festival could be revived
The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) may be revived after Screen Scotland – the national body behind the Scottish movie and TV industry – acquired the intellectual property rights to the event.
reports that EIFF announced the deal with the administrators to the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI) – the charity that previously ran the festival and which collapsed under a weight of rising costs in October. The rights, including the festival's domain name and brand assets, will be provided 'as appropriate' to a future operator of the festival, confirmed Screen Scotland.
Screen Scotland says that 'an options appraisal' for an international film festival in Edinburgh in 2023 is already underway – led by Kristy Matheson, who was creative director of the EIFF, and her colleagues. The work is being funded with an award of up to £97,647 from Creative Scotland – drawn from the 2022/23 Regular Funding Awards originally allocated to the CMI.
Screen Scotland said it anticipated that the options appraisal will be completed by the end of January, and further announcements will be made in due course.
Commenting on the sale of the rights, Chad Griffin, joint administrator and partner with FRP Advisory, said: 'Screen Scotland sits within Creative Scotland and is well-placed to take forward the development of the Edinburgh International Film Festival which is a crucial part of Edinburgh's cultural programming'.
9. I wish you all much rude health and happiness in 2023!
This is my final column of 2022. I will be back in action in 2023 on 11 January – primarily taking an in-depth look at Terry Murden's very successful, informative and extremely well-designed Daily Business
website which he produces on a seven-days-a-week basis from his Edinburgh base. It includes an especially readable Media and Creative section.
Thus, may I take this opportunity to thank you, all my many readers across the globe – including in the US, Australia, the Middle East, Scandinavia and Europe – for your continued support and succour during 2022.
I trust that following a very merry, if suitably peaceful festive period, you will be endowed with a most healthy, happy, prosperous and enriching 2023. Slainte!
Should you wish to get in touch with me, please email me at: email@example.com
Caithness-born Hamish Mackay is now in his 57th year as an occasional/sometimes regular contributor to the UK's exceedingly diverse media market