Letter to the Editor

Skylark 2

Former (Glasgow) Herald journalist Stuart McKinlay congratulated us for our “scoop” on the Skylark story published earlier today, but the editor told him that although we did the photo montage and got the quote from the MSP, the Dumbarton Reporter had it first. Stuart, a Valeman who once also worked for the Lennox Herald,  then wrote this:

Dear Editor,

Well done the Reporter then, too. I can’t always get it (or the Lennox), being in Glasgow, but it seems a much-improved newspaper and trying hard. The Lennox, though, appears to be uneasy with a central production professional gloss but without a truly local “feel”.

I recall years ago assisting in killing the Helensburgh and Gareloch Times when S&UN insisted on improving it, which is to say giving it a makeover in the image of their other weeklies. It was selling mainly on the strength of affection for its quaint appearance and nostalgic appeal; The Advertiser had truly cornered the market with vim, vigour, and cheek. The clone went down sadly looking modern but unresourced for vital local staffing. Helensburgh will suffer racy impertinence, but not a lack of charm.

The future of the market is contracting in a self-fulfilling financial vortex of diminishing confidence in the “product”, as our beloved newspapers are called by our unbeloved accountants. Old dead-tree press lovers are harder to attract, we are told, so we’ll do less and less to attract them. Fewer people are grounded in the tactile experience of books and newspapers, we are told by the bony-fingered bean-counters who have never caught the invigorating whiff of ink, content as they are with managing only decline in their dusty incomprehension. Ah well, we had the best of times, we are told, and mustn’t grumble. We take the money and leave.

So much for the bad news; the good news is that online newspapers such as The Democrat are taking up the duty of delivering news, views, and whimsy, and blowing fresh air along the corridors of power, which need that as much as ever, and perhaps more so, but I still say, despite all market studies, you can’t sleep comfortably on a park bench covered only by a laptop.

Stuart McKinlay, Glasgow


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