Editor quits after dummy captions ridicule local event

The editor of a Scottish weekly newspaper has resigned after dummy photo captions that ridiculed people taking part in a major local event were printed in his paper.

Willie Mack, editor of the awardwinning Selkirk-based Southern Reporter, quit this week following an internal inquiry into the blunder.

Mack is understood to have written the three dummy standby captions himself while waiting for the photographer’s proper captions to arrive.

His captions ridiculed Scottish Borders history and tradition by suggesting that those taking part in the St Ronan’s Games Week and Cleikum Ceremonies “should get out more for their sanity”.

The event was covered in a full-page spread of stories and pictures and the offending captions were not spotted when the presses rolled at Falkirk where the weekly is printed.

One of the captions read in full: “CAPTION CAPTION: about these pious little bleeders and the lady busser doing that interminably boring thing so cherished by Border festivals.

“What on earth is going on in this picture – these people have got to get out more often for their peace of mind and sanity.”

The Southern Reporter’s switchboard received dozens of calls from angry readers seeking an explanation.

Games committee treasurer Norman Scott said: “We had a great week of celebrations and now the Southern Reporter has destroyed everything.

“We have a committee meeting next month, but it will be my intention to seek legal advice with a view to suing for substantial compensation.

Whoever wrote these words must be at least in league with the devil.”

Games officials said they had been contacted by Mack, who had apologised for any offence caused to readers.

Mack became editor four years ago when the Smail family sold the Tweeddale Press Group to Johnston Press.

He had previously worked on papers in the west of Scotland. Johnston Press immediately launched an internal investigation.

Danny Cammiade, director of operations, said: “This was an isolated incident for which the editor has apologised to the organisers.”

The Southern Reporter, which has a circulation of 18,500, was named the best weekly newspaper in Scotland in 2002 and 2003.

By Hamish Mackay

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