Scotsman fires technology columnist for suggesting advertisers prefer online

The Scotsman has fired a columnist after he suggested that advertisers were abandoning the paper in favour of online for classified advertising in a blog post.

Nick Clayton, a technology columnist for 12 years and the paper’s former technology editor, said he was told on Friday that his column had been terminated for suggesting that online adverts were more effective than those in The Scotsman.

In a post on on Friday, he wrote about the problems facing newspapers as advertising moves online and mentioned he was in Edinburgh to sell his flat.

‘All but one of the too many estate agents I spoke to told me not to bother advertising in The Scotsman. Whether you’re looking for work or a home, the web’s the place to go,’he said in the post.

He also wrote of how expensive newspaper offices were unnecessary in an online age and that the role of the sub-editor as it stands would become obsolete.

Hours after the post went live Clayton was informed by the Edinburgh-based paper’s Saturday magazine editor Alison Gray, for whom he wrote a weekly column, that his services were no longer required.

Clayton said: ‘I really don’t understand why I’ve been fired after more than a dozen years as a loyal contributor to The Scotsman. I was merely reporting what estate agents had said to me about advertising in newspapers.”

He pointed out that in August The Scotsman reported that its parent company was feeling the pinch of an advertising downturn in a piece headlined: ‘Johnston Press hit by house market woes as property advertising slides”.

AllMediaScotland editor Mike Wilson tried to get Clayton reinstated and took down the offending post. But he received no reply, so he put the post back online and broke the news of Clayton’s dismissal.

Wilson told Press Gazette: ‘The thrust of the article is just about the internet and the threat it poses to newspapers in general – The Scotsman wasn’t in his sights at all.

‘Nick is one of the good guys and has written for that paper for a lot of years and is well respected. I am sure that people look out for his column, so I just don’t understand why they have done this.”

In a post yesterday, Clayton recalled another spat with Scotsman management a decade ago while he was technology editor. He said the paper’s then editor Martin Clarke, now an executive at the Daily Mail, was unhappy about an article Clayton wrote suggesting that recruitment advertising would go online

‘One of the reasons for running the article was, I believed, that this was something that was both a threat and an opportunity for The Scotsman,’said Clayton. ‘At the time, there was no major player in the market and it seemed to me to be a place where a well-respected brand could grab a substantial share.

‘I was called into the then editor, Martin Clarke’s office and rebuked. It was, however, probably the mildest telling-off I’ve ever had in my life.’

Clayton said Clarke told him the advertising department had complained that ‘this sort of piece makes their job harder’and not to do it again.

No one from The Scotsman was available for comment.



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