At long last a Scottish newspaper editor appears to have the guts to tackle the Scottish Government on its lamentable record in addressing and attempting to deal with the tragically ever-mounting roll of drug deaths in Scotland – especially among our young folk.
David Clegg, editor of Dundee-based regional daily, The Courier
, has launched what I very much hope is the beginning of a concerted campaign to press the Scottish Government into decisive and effective action on a Scottish scandal – his launch pad a very striking front page in The Courier
published immediately following the SNP's sweeping election victory in early May.
urged Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to take action on the drugs deaths – forcibly illustrating its point with a front page entirely devoted to a photograph showing Sturgeon, with her back turned, walking into her official residence at Bute House, Edinburgh, accompanied by a large heading appealing: 'Don't turn your back on drug deaths, Nicola'.
The Courier had been galvanised into action following an investigation by its sister daily, Dundee's Evening Telegraph
, which revealed that, in 2019, 72 people had died from drugs on its patch. David Clegg told media industry website, HoldTheFrontPage
: 'The Courier's
election coverage was the biggest and best we have ever produced, with reporters at counts across the country and an hourly newscast being streamed live on our website and social media accounts on Friday and Saturday to keep viewers up-to-date with all the latest developments.
'When it came to print [on Monday 10 May] we wanted to provide more than just the best reporting and analysis of the results and what they would mean. It also provided an opportunity for us to stop, take stock and ensure we fought for our readers and the issues that really matter in the communities where they live and work.'
Clegg explained: 'Scotland has the worst drugs death crisis in Europe and Dundee has been particularly hard hit by tragedy. Fatalities in the city rose from 66 to 72 in 2019 – the sixth consecutive annual increase'. Dundee, co-incidentally, contains the two safest seats in the Scottish Parliament – both held by SNP candidates re-elected with increased majorities.
Clegg pointed out: 'During the election campaign, SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, admitted she had taken her "eye off the ball" on drug deaths and promised action. Our striking front page reminds her of that pledge and calls for her to make the issue a top priority for her government. The Courier
will continue to hold the Scottish Government to account on this issue in the months and years ahead'.
I am delighted to hear this pledge from David Clegg whom I have long admired for his forthrightness and fair-mindedness and I trust he gives the Scottish Government's newly-appointed Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, a fair hearing but an equally hard time if he doesn't appear to be delivering the goods.
And wouldn't it coalesce into a really powerful campaign if the other newspapers in DC Thomson Media's stable – The Press and Journal
(P&J), the Evening Telegraph
, Aberdeen's Evening Express
, and the Sunday Post –
joined forces with The Courier
in tackling one of the most desperate issues of our times?
Trustees of the Journalists' Charity (JC) have appointed Christine Warwick as the organisation's new chair. Christine, who succeeds Aberdeen-born Ramsay Smith, an executive director of Glasgow-based Media House International, in the role, has spent a long career in and around the media in both newspaper journalism and public relations. Based in Wales, she represents the charity's Welsh committee on the national council of trustees and is actively involved in the organisation of the annual Wales Media Awards. Paul Jones, former head of foundation training at PA Media, continues in his role as deputy chair.
The charity's chief executive officer, James Brindle, has welcomed Christine to the role at what is a crucial COVID-19 related time for journalism and the charity. He said: 'Christine has been a passionate advocate for the charity and its unique offer during her time as a trustee, and I am very much looking forward to working together to do more to help journalists at this difficult time. I'd also like to express my thanks to Ramsay Smith for his time and support over the last two years – the charity and the industry owes Ramsay a great debt of gratitude for his tireless service over many years'.
Shrewd work by the Scottish Daily Mail
in signing up new Tory MSP, former STV and The Scottish Sun
investigative journalist, Russell Findlay, for a two-page spread featuring a diary on his experience of the first eight days at the Scottish Parliament.
Findlay has written a most readable piece, and I especially liked this quote: 'Departing presiding officer, Ken Macintosh, is upbeat. Little wonder – he's been paroled after 22 years. Some murderers do less… He also warns us that calling another MSP a liar is strictly off limits. Given the SNP's casually selective relationship with the truth, I make a note to buy a thesaurus'. Ouch!
I have by now read many many thousands of words on the Martin Bashir/ BBC/ Princess Diana furore. Two quotes stand out for me amongst this veritable torrent of words. In an excellent first-person feature in the Scottish Daily Mail
, Patrick Jephson, Diana's equerry and private secretary from 1988-96, writes: 'In a scathing comment after Bashir's subsequent Michael Jackson interview – itself now facing calls for renewed investigation – the New York Times
described his journalism style as callous self-interest masked as sympathy
And from Prince William in his very wise yet incisive public statement on 20 May: 'In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important. These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too'.
is celebrating its bicentenary which has given a daily newspaper columnist the opportunity to cattily recall an instance in 2007 when The Guardian
, somewhat famous for its mistakes, had to carry a correction. It read: 'We misspelled the word misspelled twice, as mispelled in the Corrections and Clarifications column'.
The former home of Glasgow's three sister dailies is set to become a 300-bedroom hotel. Developer MRP has completed the purchase of the old Renfield Street offices of The Herald
, Glasgow Times
and The National
. A four-star Maldron hotel, with a bar, restaurant and business facilities, is now set to open on the site.
understands the sale of Renfield Street was agreed for a price of more than £10 million with vendor Aegon Asset Management. Angus Monteith, development director at MRP, told The Times
: 'The purchase is part of a major, long-term investment project for us in this area of Glasgow'.