Still cutting-edge in the face of cutbacks

Friday the 13th had more resonance than usual for staff at Glasgow’s award-winning evening newspaper, the Evening Times. On top of the normal workload, it was also arguably deadline day for their own futures. As part of a proposed budget cut, the appeal had gone out to everyone working on the title a few days before – come back with cost-saving ideas.

The splash headline could hardly have summed up the situation more succinctly – “praying for a miracle” – except that the accompanying story was about missing crewmen from an oil rig ship in the North Sea. A saving of between £2 million and £3 million is being sought by management across the three Glasgow titles operated by Newsquest – of which the Evening Times is one, the others being The Herald and the Sunday Herald.

In other words, if there are not enough good ideas and voluntary redundancies by the end of June, then there is the very real prospect of compulsory redundancies and resultant industrial action led by the NUJ.

The Evening Times has just been chosen as the regional newspaper of the year at the Newspaper Society’s circulation, editorial and promotions awards – praised by the judges for its “brave investigations, solid, tight editorial and being a strong paper from front cover to back” – but its recent acquisition of awards doesn’t end there.

Two years ago, under Charles McGhee – now editor of sister title, The Herald – it won newspaper of the year titles at both the Scottish Press Awards and the Press Gazette Regional Press Awards. But two years ago, there were more staff.

McGhee has since been succeeded by Donald Martin, who was editor of the Evening Express in Aberdeen until March of last year. Under McGhee, the Evening Times was strong on campaigns. It seemed like a paper that didn’t pick a fight for the sake of it. Under Martin, there remains a campaigning zeal, perhaps more so than before, including one to “get Glasgow moving”, a component of which has been publishing reader photographs of instances of bad driving. “

Martin has produced a product with real edge, that gets people talking, even if only to tell their friends they are in the page 12 vox-pop selection. There are fewer heavy think pieces than before.

Pages 4 and 5 in the late news edition was, in many ways, the paper in microcosm. It feasted on the schizophrenic Glasgow we are too familiar with – of deprivation versus renaissance, of almost 100,000 people drawing benefits versus the city still inspired by its reign as European City of Culture. The stark divide was underpinned by the paper’s own manifesto for Glasgow, ahead of upcoming elections to both the local authority and the Scottish Parliament.

So, there was a campaign in there. Plus a thumping bold photograph, typical of solid, good design. There were the “vox pops” – Paula, from Cathcart, thought people could “be lazy and stay on the dole”. The manifesto urged for ways to assist immigrants keep their money in Glasgow.

What did the judges say? From front to back?

Nothing quite divides Glasgow like football, and the reporting of the Old Firm pairing of Celtic and Rangers has enjoyed the consistency of a pretty unchanged team for some years.

What Glaswegians think of their daily

Interviews by Aaron Lavery

Charles Boyd, 62, retired “I buy the Evening Times most weekdays; it’s a good paper. It tells you everything that’s going on in Glasgow. It’s well designed – compact and easy to read, and plenty of different sections for people with different interests. It covers most of the different areas of the city, but sometimes areas like Bishopbriggs where I live aren’t covered as much as other areas that have more crime or more going on. They also tell you what’s going on around the world, with lots of pictures. They cover quite a lot of football, but the stuff they cover is done quite well – it’s not just Rangers and Celtic. They could do with more coverage of other sports, though.”

Sarah-Jane Thomson, 22, nurse “My boyfriend brings a copy of the Evening Times every night. I also have a read of it at work; it’s a decent paper and probably the first one I’d pick up. It covers things that the Record and the Sun don’t – local news specific to different parts of Glasgow. It also seems a bit more realistic than the tabloids. It’s a nice size – compact and easy to carry on your way to work. There’s also a few editions every day, so whichever one you get the news is up to date. There’s maybe too much sport in it. Too much football definitely.

They should probably try to cover some other sports like rugby.”

Alan Cameron, 24, quantity surveyor “I get the Evening Times delivered every day at home. It’s normally the only paper I read. It’s OK, the best of a bad bunch to be honest. Most of the papers have the same stuff in but the Times puts a local angle on it so that makes it more interesting to a Glaswegian. It’s well set out, easy to follow, with a nice balance of pictures and stories. I generally read the sport more than any other section.

I’m a Rangers fan and it’s the best way to find out news on them. Everyone in my house passes it round, but it’s not a serious read”.

Chris Diamond, 31, designer.

“I do read it occasionally, but generally I think it’s rotten. It just looks the same as any other newspaper – nothing special.

The only decent thing in it is the food column and that’s probably the oldest thing in it as well.

There’s no real news in there – just local tittle-tattle, silly campaigns they set up about nothing.

I don’t really care about parents parking outside schools or anything like that.”

Michael McCallum, 40, builder “I read the Evening Times once or twice a week – if a headline catches my eye or if it’s the day with the jobs section in. I usually wait and get the cheap edition in the evening – I think that’s a great idea. It’s usually a different story to what’s in the Record or the Sun. It also has a lot on local crime that you don’t get in the other papers – if something has happened where you live you can usually find it in the Evening Times the next day. I don’t really like the extra sections you get with it – cars or houses or stuff like that. I wouldn’t bother reading any of that.”

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