The political editor of the Liverpool Echo
daily newspaper, Liam Thorp, has revealed that he has been 'overwhelmed' with the support he has received after publicly revealing his mental health struggles while reporting on the 'relentlessness and bleakness' of the coronavirus crisis.
Media website, HoldTheFrontPage (HTFP), reports how Thorp went public on Twitter to relate how he 'broke down' and is now taking time off work to recover after discussing his situation with management. A number of regional journalists and others also came forward to share similar experiences as a result of Liam's decision to go public.
Thorp wrote: 'Had a real wobble yesterday, broke down a bit, felt like everything just hit me at once, the relentlessness and bleakness of it all. Won't be the only one, think a lot of people are struggling. It's difficult when you can't really switch off from this stuff, when it is your job to consume it, digest it, feel it all – I know I'm really lucky to have a good job and so many others are in a much, much worse position – but just explaining a bit.
'I'm even luckier to have very understanding colleagues and bosses and a remarkably patient better-half. The best thing I could advise is talking about it (sounds obvious I know) – I emailed my bosses to explain the situation and they were great, told me to take any time I needed and offered support. Felt like a big weight just lifted off, think I'd been bottling it up for a while.'
Amongst those who went on Twitter to sympathise and support Thorp was Steph Brawn, who works as a local democracy reporter in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde with Reach plc. She said: 'It's so good you have been open about this Liam, more people need to be. I have had a few wobbles throughout this crisis, and I don't suppose I've seen the last of them just yet'.
Speaking to HTFP, Thorp added: 'I was initially a bit nervous about putting my feelings out there on Twitter but the response was amazing, overwhelming and really cathartic for me. So many people got in touch with kind messages but perhaps most importantly many people – including lots of media colleagues – responded by sharing their own struggles... I hope maybe they felt more able to do that having seen someone else do it first. My bosses have been brilliant and really supportive and have suggested I take a couple of days off to recharge so that's what I will be doing'.
Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson (DCT) is creating up to 20 new jobs to give readers of its four regional daily newspapers 'a level and quality of content not seen before' in the industry.
The recruitment drive sees the company invest in its regional news operation in order to offer more digital products and content, alongside its print titles. DCT's regional titles are the Press and Journal
(P&J), Evening Express
in Aberdeen, and The Courier
and Evening Telegraph
in Dundee. The company also publishes the Sunday Post
The editorial development programme, called 'Apollo', sees the company creating specialist mini-publishing teams covering specific topics in what management are terming a 'dynamic way forward for the business', while existing staff are already being moved into different roles. Journalists will put increased emphasis on the use of video, live broadcasting, programme making, audio producing, animation, interactive graphics and live events to tell stories.
DCT says the programme will allow it to 'serve communities with a level and quality of content not seen before in the UK regional news market'. The roles being recruited in the newsroom include a data content specialist, an audio producer, group picture editor, head of live news, head of comment, head of sport, head of transport and environment, and head of business. Live news reporter posts and four social media roles will also be created. A number of journalists are also sought to report on live news and sport, and leaders are being recruited to head up teams covering live news, business, entertainment, sport and transport and environment.
Richard Neville, head of new brands at DC Thomson Media, explains: 'We are hoping the fortunes of society in general take an upturn in 2021, but we also believe changes in our news brands team will result in a new and dynamic way forward for our publishing business. We want to hear from anyone who wants to join a progressive, ambitious and innovative publisher'.
David Clegg, editor of The Courier,
said: 'We are searching for talented newsroom leaders who can complement the existing team and help us develop a deeper relationship with our readers. We have a strong connection with our communities through print – now we must develop that further online'.
Press and Journal
editor, Frank O'Donnell, added: 'This is a top-to-bottom revolution in how we approach content. This isn't about writing the same content and putting it online, this is identifying innovative, compelling ideas that fulfil a need for new audiences. We have to be ambitious, take risks and be comfortable with not getting everything right. This is an exciting time to be part of a forward-thinking company which wants to invest in journalism'.
The Scottish Sun's
editor, Alan Muir, has announced he is leaving the tabloid after a 34 years' association which has taken him from a newsdesk casual to editor. Muir, a graduate of the journalism course at Edinburgh Napier University, began his career as a reporter on the Ayr Advertiser
and was subsequently editor of the Ayrshire Leader
The Rennie Media blog reports: 'While still at the Ayr Advertiser
weekly, Muir did his first shift at Kinning Park in June 1987, where editor Jack Irvine was assembling what he called his "dirty dozen" to take on the Daily Record
. That team early on included Andy Lines, Bruce Waddell, Ewan Watt and Jackie Bird. After an early baptism of fire, Muir rose through the ranks and as news editor saw the Scottish Sun
overtake the Daily Record
in 2006 to become Scotland's best-selling daily newspaper'.
Muir was appointed editor in 2016 – succeeding Gordon Smart, and the Rennie Media blog points out: 'Alan joked he was a "dinosaur" but was passionate about supporting new talent. He reckoned the old world of print and the new world of digital could learn from each other'.
In a farewell blog, Muir, 56, said: 'In equal measure, it has been both a terrifying and magical roller-coaster that I thought I'd never want to get off. The one thing that has been constant, however, are all the brilliant people I've had the good fortune to work with over the years – on the paper and outwith it. I'm really grateful for that. They have all made the decades fly by'. News UK is now advertising for an editor-in-chief to replace Muir.
The Rennie Media blog is written and produced by Allan Rennie, the former MD of Media Scotland and a former editor of both the Daily Record
and Sunday Mail
Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, Lorraine Kelly, Fern Brady, Alex Norton and Ian Rankin are some of the names lined up to take part in a new series of Shelf Isolation
on BBC Scotland. Fronted by Damian Barr, the series will return for six episodes in late February. It will feature guests speaking with Barr remotely, from their homes, about the books and box sets, music and movies that are helping them through the coronavirus crisis.
The series kicks off with a special conversation between Damian and Stuart who will chat about life since his debut novel Shuggie Bain
won the Booker Prize and share his own cultural influences and recommendations on what to read, watch and listen to during lockdown.
Barr explains: 'I love getting recommendations from friends about what to read, watch or listen to, and that's what Shelf Isolation
is all about. It gives a unique insight into the cultural life of some of Scotland's most familiar names'.
is part of BBC Scotland's continued effort to commission programming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the year, it has worked closely with the independent production sector and collaborated with creative partners to bring a variety of content, across all genres, to help entertain and engage audiences. Shelf Isolation
is produced for BBC Scotland by IWC Media, a Banijay UK company.