Kingdom of Scotland Scotland emerged as an independent polity during the Early Middle Ages, with some historians dating its foundation from the reign of Kenneth MacAlpin in The Auld Alliance of Scotland and France against English interests was first invoked at this time and remained active through to the s. After James VII of Scotland II of England was deposed in amid Catholic-Protestant disputes, and as the line of Protestant Stuarts showed signs of failing as indeed occurred inEnglish fears that Scotland would select a different monarch, potentially causing conflict within Great Britain, and the bankruptcy of many Scottish nobles through the Darien scheme led to the formal union of the two kingdoms inwith the Treaty of Union and subsequent Acts of Unionto form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
When I first read it, back in the s, I was amazed that it had any audience at all. So I was astonished to be told that its odd mix of quirky news, sentimental stories and cartoon strips had made it the best-selling paper in Scotland by far. What a contrast to now.
For anyone that knows this paper, it is an astounding achievement. Who you calling sleepy? It might not have fitted easily beside externally recognised Scottish stereotypes such as whisky distilleries, country houses and golf hotels.
But by the early s it was hard to imagine the Post as a player in any rational world of media marketing. It was serving grandparents — and pretty much no one else. Even by the standards of the wider newspaper industry, the Scotland paper seemed set full throttle for oblivion.
You needed to remind yourself that once, the Post had served a huge demographic. In the late s it claimed a readership of a staggering 2. Its sales once represented the highest per-capita readership penetration in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
And when its decline later gathered pace, it was seen as emblematic of Scotland paper same trend putting paid to both the Kirk and the Scottish Tories. If the foundations for this were not exactly revolutionary — more news, better reporting, new features, layout and design enhancements — they have certainly had the desired effect.
This includes the other Scottish newspaper titles with national presumptions: DC Thomson is really the sole Scottish proprietor of newspapers beyond local level. When you reflect that the Gaelic language BBC Alba is the only indigenous TV channel, all this external ownership becomes all the more significant — not least for the varied needs of Scottish civil society.
This is highly anomalous by European standards. Ireland, to take an adjacent case, has several TV channels owned and controlled in the Republic, and a viable indigenous press.
The Scottish press is generally under-resourced and likely to become more so, partly because of this pattern of ownership.
It is the poor cousin of London newspapers and conglomerate interests — witness the rampant Scottish editions of The Times, Sun and Daily Mail.
This pattern is not new and not getting any better. Scoop of the Year DC Thomson Scottish titles have displayed far too much reliance on secondary source material, opinion pieces and features.
So it is refreshing to see the Post putting real effort and resources into one of the major absences in Scottish journalism — investigative reporting. The title was rightly praised at the Press Awards for its difficult and painful stories on the discovery of a mass grave at an orphanage near Glasgow.
And on the front page and beyonda well researched, detailed and balanced account of a benefits case which avoids the often prejudicial and sensational nature of UK newspaper finger-pointing at recipients.
Sales are now below , and more than one-fifth of them are from south of the border. This is no less dismal than the rest of the Scottish press — and in some cases worse. Editorial reinvigoration is enough of an achievement — sales revival in the current market seems to remain the stuff of fantasy.
The consolation for DC Thomson in this difficult environment is that profits from other ventures such as technology services are more than making up for the print decline. So, while the future of the Sunday Post remains far from certain, it stands as an object lesson in how to reinvent yourself.
Maybe it can provide some encouragement to countless other titles simultaneously battling to maintain readers and credibility.Newspapers of Scotland online.
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