One of the UK newspaper and magazine industry's leading figures, Lorna Willis, chief executive officer of the Norfolk-headquartered Archant group, has hit out at industry outsiders who accuse the regional press of 'not doing a good job'. Discussing the regional media on the The Media Show
on BBC Radio 4, Willis criticised what she termed the 'arrogance' of external commentators commenting on innovation within the sector. Archant produces four daily newspapers; around 50 weeklies; and upwards of 80 magazines.
Willis highlighted Archant's recent link with Google which has seen it launch a number of new projects, and called for the regional press to 'get past' the argument about technology companies having 'eaten our lunch' with regards to local advertising.
She declared: 'There is a level of arrogance that comes from outside this industry; that looks in and says: they are just not doing a good job
. Actually, we're doing a bloody excellent job – and what Google did was give us the space to breathe. They said: Okay: you've got some amazing talent in this business. Here you go; here's some cash. Go and innovate, and go and be sustainable
Asked if the partnership with Google provided Archant with a 'sustainable financial platform to build on', Willis said: 'It will do. We are going through the news experiment. So yes, that's absolutely the plan'. Praising Google, she added: 'They got to know our business at a micro level and asked how they could help'. However, she also hit out at other technology firms' relationships with the regional press, claiming Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat 'don't engage'.
Predictably, Rupert Murdoch-owned News UK is launching its own TV news channel in the UK – TalkTV – early next year (2022), with Piers Morgan as its first major signing on a reported £50 million deal over three years, making him the UK's highest-earning journalist. As part of the deal, Morgan will write a weekly column for The Sun
and the New York Post
Since selling its stake in Sky, News UK's parent company, News Corp, did not have a UK television outlet and it reveals that TalkTV will feature 'proper' hourly news bulletins, sports and entertainment shows, as well as current affairs, debate, opinion and documentaries. It will also air on the Fox Nation streaming service in the US and Sky News in Australia.
TalkTV will use contributors and programming from across News UK brands including The Sun
, The Times
and the Sunday Times
, Times Radio, Virgin Radio, Talkradio and Talksport. The announcement on TalkTV coincides with newly-launched television news channel GB News facing problems following the departure of chairman and lead presenter Andrew Neil, and disappointing listening figures. Indeed, there is already media industry speculation that News UK may well launch a buy-out bid for GB News.
Scott Taunton, chief executive of News UK Broadcasting. said: 'News UK's brands already engage millions of people through print, digital and audio, and we are using those brands to create video programming. We have some of media's biggest names on our radio stations and in our newspapers... some of the most talented people in news, sports and entertainment journalism will be taking part as contributors or creating original content for TalkTV'.
I have a soft spot for ITV's political editor, Robert Peston, so I was much interested in his views on how retaining his weekly television political show, Peston
, is a bonus. Speaking on Radio 4's Fortunately... with Fi and Jane
podcast, Peston, 61, the son of a Labour life peer, explained: 'My great uncle used to say: Every day that I wake up is a bonus
– and quite often I think: Every day I keep my show as a white middle-class male is a bonus
'I am very fortunate that I got my breaks before people noticed the genuine terrible discrimination there is around the place including in [the media] industry against women and against people from ethnic minority backgrounds. I wonder, truthfully, if I were 30 whether all sorts of doors that were open to me then would be open to me today, because the competition is much more intense.'
Peston, an Oxford graduate and a former business and economics editor of the BBC, revealed he is the only white, middle-aged, middle-class male working on his show. He admitted he was fortunate to do his job but cautioned that he will probably have to leave before too long, explaining: 'I am astonishingly fortunate to do what I do. As soon as people think I am not there on merit, I guess I'll have to go... Everyone else [on Peston
] is a woman or person of colour. It is the best team I have ever worked with. They are phenomenally bright, creative, and [it is] just a transformed working environment for the better'.
Two very well-known folk in Scottish broadcasting and newspaper circles, are to have a romantic wedding in Northern Ireland next year. Lorraine Herbison and Mark Hollinshead will tie the knot at the Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort in Ballymena, County Antrim, on 24 July – sentimentally choosing Ballymena as it is not far from Lorraine's family home.
Lorraine is head of news and sport for Bauer Media in Scotland – responsible for the news output on Bauer Media's eight Scottish radio stations which include Radio Clyde in Glasgow, Radio Forth in Edinburgh and NorthSound Radio in Aberdeen. Mark was part of the team at National World plc which recently bought out JPIMedia for £10.2 million, and he now sits on the board of the listed company as chief commercial officer.
Lorraine told me: 'As I belong to Northern Ireland we decided that it would be really great for me to return to my homeland for our wedding. Mind you, as I moved to Scotland in 1993, I have now lived longer in Scotland than in Northern Ireland'.
Lorraine first moved to Scotland to do a postgraduate course in journalism – run jointly then by Strathclyde University and Glasgow Caledonian University. Her first job in journalism was as a trainee reporter on the Lennox Herald
weekly newspaper. She then worked for the Glasgow Evening Times
for four years before joining Radio Clyde. She subsequently had various roles on the commercial radio station, including head of news and sport, before a restructuring in 2013 led to her being promoted to head of news and sport for Bauer Media in Scotland.
Wolverhampton-born Mark moved to Glasgow in 1997 to become managing director of the Daily Record
and Sunday Mail
. He was subsequently managing director of Trinity Mirror's nationals division, which included the Daily Mirror
and Sunday People
, and the company's chief operating officer between 2012 and 2015. He is the co-founder and current chairman of Glasgow-based Hollicom public relations and strategic communications agency.
London-based LBC radio station has appointed Gina Davidson to the new role of Scotland political editor as it attempts to strengthen its coverage away from its traditional London heartland. Gina joins LBC after three years at The Scotsman
where she was latterly deputy political editor. Her previous media posts included stints at the Edinburgh Evening News
, the Press Association (PA) and a spell in television. She points out: 'Scottish politics is never quiet and LBC has chosen a perfect moment to increase its brand of political coverage north of the border'.
LBC, which is available across the UK on DAB digital radio and television, is owned by Global, Europe's largest radio company. LBC's managing editor, Tom Cheal, said: 'Gina is an outstanding journalist with a proven track record of breaking important stories. We are excited to welcome her to LBC at a defining moment in the history of the country – reaffirming Global's commitment to investing in and delivering quality journalism across the UK'.
Congratulations to The Herald's
reporter, Caroline Wilson, who has won The Local Hero Award, sponsored by Google News Initiative, in the Association for Online Publishing's Digital Publishing Awards. Caroline triumphed for her contribution to The Herald's
Think Dementia campaign – launched in 2019 in a bid to get better care for 90,000 people living with dementia across Scotland.
Caroline commented: 'It's great to get this recognition for The Herald's
Think Dementia campaign. We want to ensure that people with advanced dementia have access to free nursing care at the end of their lives – in line with other terminal conditions'.
Well, well! The Scottish Mail on Sunday
(SMOS), usually very inventive with its reader contests, is turning the clock back by running a Spot the Ball competition for the next 10 weeks with a weekly top prize of £10,000. The SMOS readily admits this is one of the 'oldest football challenges in newspapers'. I well remember in the distant past Aberdeen's Evening Express
doing very nicely revenue-wise from its Fix-the-Ball competition.
I'd like to commend Sky News's newly-extended nightly news review and press preview programme. Two reviewers, predominantly media folk, are featured each night. Among the regular reviewers are David Clegg, editor of The Courier,
and Scottish-born Pippa Crerar, political editor of the Daily Mirror
. Both are very informed, incisive contributors. This programme is well worth watching.
The winners of the 42nd Scottish Press Awards will be announced on Wednesday 29 September. Nine new awards had been introduced, bringing the total number of categories up to 33. This is the top awards for the Scottish newspaper industry, in both print and digital formats, and the best showcase for Scottish journalistic talent. We will carry a full report on the awards in next week's column.