Scotsman executive editor predicts merger with The Herald

Executive editor of The Scotsman Bill Jamieson has predicted his paper and The Herald would be brought together and run as one business ‘in the next few years’as a way of shielding the titles against a growing crisis in the Scottish press.

Jamieson floated an idea where the Scotsman and the Herald would adopt a system similar to the Lebedev-owned Independent titles and the London Evening Standard, which operate as separate businesses but share services and a building with DMGT.

He said the two papers could ‘shelter under a common umbrella of shared services’while remaining editorially separate.

Separate companies, Johnston Press and Newsquest, currently own the Scotsman and the Herald respectively.

Jamieson, while admitted that he had ‘no inside track on what managers are thinking’floated the idea in an article about the crisis in the Scottish newspaper sector for The Scottish Review.

He said collapse of the ad market, a dwindling public appetite for paying for print and the encroachment of publicly-funded competition in the form of BBC News or through ‘newspapers’ published by local authorities as a propaganda tool were the three main reasons why newspapers were under threat in Scotland.

Response to this crisis led newspaper groups into ‘severe and sustained cost-cutting’he said, which would ultimately just exacerbate the structural problems ‘slashing at the very raison d’etre and means of newspaper survival: the provision of broad, comprehensive, accurate, reliable and up-to-the-hour news and analysis”.

Jamieson also criticised the lack of ‘strategic thinking being done at the editorial (as opposed to managerial) end”, saying it had deepened the crisis in the industry.

‘What hope is there for newspaper titles in Scotland? I do not profess to have any inside track on what newspaper managements are thinking,’he said.

‘But it would be surprising to me if in the next few years the Scotsman and Herald titles are not brought in under one management.

‘The two titles could remain editorially separate with their own editors, geographic, cultural and political biases.

‘But they would shelter under a common umbrella of shared services – marketing, distribution, advertising, HR, wages, library and IT services.

‘This would shave millions of pounds off costs while offering advertisers a more compelling circulation proposition and also maintaining the editorial integrity of the two titles where it matters.”

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