Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A New Year and a New Start…

Firstly, can I say a happy new year!

2010 was one of those Fin de Siècle years where there were changes.  David Tennant’s Doctor gave way to Matt Smith, Jonathan Ross quit the Beeb, Gus MacPherson left the Buddies but the biggest changes came as a result of the Westminster election, which saw the last hurrah of Scottish Labour’s big beasts that emerged in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  Smith, Dewar & Cook all no longer with us, Robertson & Reid now enjoy life outside politics while in May Brown lost the General Election.


This air of change continued a couple of weeks ago with the re-design of the Sunday Herald.  The papers last change was when the paper downsized to a tabloid, just after most of the English based broadsheets did something similar.  This change however is a change that I don’t think has worked.  It is now essentially a 92 page “news magazine” – however there are several things that don’t work.


Firstly, because there are 92 pages, some things do not have the space that they had before.  Sport has been reduced to about 10 pages, political comment has also been reduced, and scattered around the 92 pages.  The letters section has also been reduced, not by much but the perception of a huge cut is there, this gives the impression of a views-paper who wants to talk but not to listen.  Television has been reduced from 16 pages to about 3 pages, Music reviews have been cut, while I am still to locate Theatre reviews.  Thankfully Joanna Blythman has been cut to just the restaurant review.  Rather mystifyingly the resident grump of the Herald newspapers, Iain Bell, sees an increase in his space (if last week is anything to go by).


The other thing that i think doesn’t work is the “quality newspaper” angle.  Subconsciously or otherwise, i think that the Journalists have began to produce journalism which is rather full of itself, a tad egotistical, and a bit snobby.  In short totally against everything that the old Sunday Herald produced.  I don’t think that you produce “quality” if you think about it,to use the old advertising slogan – “Just Do It”.  Subconsciously I suspect that the journalists have started to analyse whether their writing will appeal or not.  Rather bizarrely the most difficult articles to write are ones for the red-top tabloids, it is more difficult to write an article to explain things in an easily understood manner than it is to write an article full of jargon and obscure words.  I get the impression that in the race to give the veneer of “quality”, some of the writers have forgotten this.


The editorial on Sunday was ecstatic about its initial sales figures for a couple of weeks ago.  If Sunday was anything to go by, i would imagine that the sales figures would look less good.  I went down to the local shops late, and was surprised to find lots of unsold copies left – i normally struggle to get a copy after 11:30am.  2011 looks to be as turbulent as 2010 was, the media and the blogosphere are already gearing up to the forthcoming Holyrood elections.  Unfortunately one of Scotland’s national newspapers has decided to do the print equivalent of the self indulgent 5th album.  Not a good move at a crucial time for Scotland, and sadly not the brightest note to enter the fifth year of this blog.


Stuart Winton said...

Thanks for that Allan. It's mainly the comments section I read in newspapers, and certainly rarely the sport, TV and the other, er, peripheral bits.

So I couldn't really get a handle on how the SH had changed as a whole.

I did notice the price had gone up (30%?) and find the tabloid format more convenient, but from what you say it seems little more than a cost-cutting exercise masquearading as a revamp, which is a shame, but I suppose in these difficult times the publishers may have to do such things just to keep the title afloat.

Allan said...

Hi Stuart.

I think the price went back up to £1.30 a couple of months ago, certainly before the re-vamp anyway. I do like the "periferal" bits - i suppose the only good thing is that in the sports section, it's not seen a total invasion of football - it remains to be seen if that stay's the case.

I was surprised to see the amount of unsold Herald's last week though...