Herald Group Managing Editor explores future of Scottish press

13 January 2015

Tom Thompson speaks at The Media in Scotland conference

Tom Thompson speaks at The Media in Scotland conference

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) today (Tuesday, January 13) brought together influential media practitioners, policy makers, politicians, academics and the public for a one-day conference ‘The Media in Scotland: After the Referendum’.

Tom Thomson, Managing Editor of the Herald & Times Group, explored the prospects of the Scottish press. The Herald & Times Group publishes The Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald and associated websites.

Mr Thomson said that newspapers across the UK had faced a “fairly steep decline” from 12m in 2005 to 7m in 2014.

He said that print advertising spend was being lost, with newspapers having to seize the opportunities available from the fastest growing part of the internet – digital display advertising.

However, 90% of the Herald’s revenue is still coming from print publications.

Mr Thomson said no Scottish publisher had yet “cracked it”, but insisted that the Herald was exploiting its print and digital assets and would explore new means of content provision.

He said the Sunday Herald’s “bold move” in supporting Scottish Independence in the Referendum vote had helped the paper to drive a 32% year-on-year circulation boost for December. Mr Thomson expects further growth to come from the commentary in the build-up to the General Election.

New daily paper, The National, launched in the wake of support for the independence vote, proved that “Innovation need not only be digital”, said Mr Thomson. A new website for the title is to launch this spring.

Other topics for discussion at the conference will be the new system of press regulation, whether the structure of broadcasting north of the border is fit for purpose, and what lessons can be learned from experiences elsewhere in the world, which are relevant to ensuring a vibrant media sector north of the border.

Ben McConville, Head of Social Sciences Media and Journalism at GCU, said: "The referendum campaign energised Scottish politics in ways we could not have imagined. This conference will explore how that energy has impacted on the Scottish media and their future prospects."