A journalism venture that aimed to create Scotland’s largest newspaper and become the UK’s biggest multi-media platform has ended before it began after investors apparently pulled out, putting new recruits out of a job.
Scottish News was registered in November last year and began recruiting for 800 journalists in January ahead of a planned Spring 2018 launch of a service covering “every town, city and island” in Scotland.
Editorial recruits who had already accepted job offers are now being given ex gratia payments – those made with a moral rather than legal obligation – Press Gazette understands.
The sole company director is 34-year-old John Wyllie, whose website describes him as a freelance entrepreneur with 10 years’ experience in various fields, including PR, viral marketing, and business development.
In a statement Wyllie said: “Despite our very best intentions we are all extremely disappointed that the plans to launch Scottish News haven’t been able to progress as expected.
“We have been on an incredible journey so far to realise our aim of launching an innovative and exciting new company which would bring new jobs to the Glasgow area and allow us to invest in a city we love.
“Sadly, we have however been let down on promised investment and it is with deep regret that this left us with no alternative but to withdraw the employment offers made.
“This decision was made with a heavy heart having explored all other alternatives within the time frame we had and we wish everyone well in their future careers.”
Job adverts began to appear online in January for 800 jobs, including a chief editor, 300 journalists, and 300 full-time and 200 part-time social media content writers and bloggers.
At the time Dominic Bascombe, organiser of NUJ Scotland, questioned the scale of the operation.
He said: “A venture claiming to want over 800 journalists in Scotland raises suspicions. This is a number of jobs far above and beyond even the biggest media players in Scotland and indeed across the UK.
“We would urge anyone considering joining such an unknown venture to ensure that they do proper due diligence in their employment search.”
The job adverts, listed on the S1 Jobs website, described the company as an “exciting, dynamic new media brand with a vision and passion to succeed in becoming the UK’s largest multi-media platform”.
It continued: “We believe the people of Scotland deserve unbiased quality content and this is exactly what we aim to deliver.
“Launching in 2018, we will become the largest single printed newspaper in Scotland – the voice for the people and the largest and best quality content creators offering niche categories and free speech.
“We will have a presence in every local geo-demographic town, city and island in Scotland.
“Employee satisfaction and wellbeing will be at the heart of our business and we will boast an enviable work culture where we encourage teamwork, collaboration and will also invest heavily in professional development and technology.”
The company’s website appeared to have deleted the majority of its pages on Monday, the same day new recruits were reportedly told they no longer had job offers.
Now, the entire website has been taken down with the exception of its front page, which simply shows the Scottish News logo.
Its “About Us” page previously said: “We are a dedicated team of people who are passionate about the quality and integrity of news in Scotland and beyond. We are bringing to Scotland a news product with a difference, so watch this space.”
John Toner, NUJ Scottish organiser, said today: “The NUJ expressed its scepticism about the feasibility of this enterprise from the outset.
“We are, nevertheless, very sad to hear that journalists who had accepted job offers from Scottish News have had their hopes dashed.”