Scottish government announces £3 million boost for newspapers

Read all about it – Kate Forbes announces Government cash to save newspapers.
The Scottish government has announced a £3m advertising boost in the form of a public health information partnership for newspapers in Scotland.
National, regional and community titles operating in Scotland are set to benefit from the scheme which will highlight the ‘vital role’ played by the newspaper industry in informing the public about coronavirus developments.

Scottish titles will run ads in addition to those as part of the UK-wide ‘All in, all together’ campaign. The UK government has confirmed that it will continue to run this scheme in Scotland as well as the additional support given by the devolved government.

Kate Forbes, Holyrood’s cabinet secretary for finance said in a tweet announcing the spend:  “Scotland’s newspaper industry plays a vital role informing the public on COVID-19 developments and its impact. The Scottish government will continue to share public health messages in Scottish papers and on their digital sites.”

Scottish Newspaper Society director John McLellan told the SoE he welcomes the campaign:  “The SNS is delighted that the Scottish Government will be investing in our titles and it is recognition of the key role our titles play in communicating effectively with communities up and down Scotland.

“Newspapers are no different to any other business in feeling the full effects of the Covid-19 crisis, but this investment will help ensure that our publications are in a much better place to survive the crisis.

“The Scottish Government also recognises that news publishers’ platforms, especially local ones, are vital conduits for companies large and small to market their goods and services as they rebuild in the recovery.”

Bill Heaney, editor/publisher of The Democrat, said: “This is a welcome lifebelt for Scottish newspapers which should have come sooner, much sooner, even 20 years ago when the industry first asked for help to mitigate the effect government at every level withdrawing advertising from the press and placing it on-line.

“That move was a spear in the heart of the Scottish press, particularly local papers, many of which have closed and all of which are struggling badly to keep their heads above water. Even with the handout, many of them will still not survive.

“Let’s hope the SNP are not hoping for the press to go easy on them and that everyone in the party does not follow the lead of West Dunbartonshire Council and impose censorship on their critics in a bid to close them down.”

  • West Dunbartonshire Council have told The Democrat they will not follow the usual custom and practice in regard to the relationship between us and them. They insist we become members of IPSO, the organisation which replaced the failed Press Council, and we refused. They have also withdrawn media accreditation from our editor, who is an Editor Emeritus in the Society of Editors and an Honorary Life Member of the National Union of Journalists.


  1. So tax payers money is to be used to prop up newspapers.

    But who decides which one gets and which one doesn’t. That’s an interesting question.

    And what about all of the new vigorous new online journals that have arisen so vibrantly over the last few years. New and innovative why do they not get support. Why is it that only the dinosaur press owned by the mega corporations and billionaires are going to get the hand out. Online journals like the Ferret or even the Dumbarton Democrat. A little bit of seed corn would go a long way there.

    Or what about the more political journals like Wings of Scotland as an example. With unique audience numbers of around 700,000 they have readership numbers that some of the dinosaurs would give their eye teeth for.

    A free press is a good thing, indeed it is an essential thing. Suppressing it, as the SNP does here locally, or as the establishment does more nationally where it prosecutes political commentators like Craig Murray and Mark Hirst is a very bad thing. Using specialist police squads and prosecutors to persecute is straight out of 1930s Germany. More so when freedom of information is now being restricted.

    But of course the Democrat knows that locally. It’s banned. Denied any briefings, denied any comment, totally excluded.

    So big question is that against this background of news suppression and journalist persecution exactly who is it that the Scottish Government are going to glad hand with some cash.

    Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, the Barclay Brothers Scotsman, the American mega corporation Gannet……who?

    Maybe locally if editor Heaney got on his knees and said great things about the Council, told folks how great they were, never asked any difficult questions of government then he would get a few coppers thrown his way. Until then, I suspect he, like many of the new journals, will continue to get blackballed.

  2. Lots of people would love to be a journalist and I have helped many young people to achieve that ambition. It’s a great calling and something to be really proud of. But to be a banned journalist is the magna cum laude of the media trade, something you cannot buy. It is a badge of honour to have put the poultices who run West Dunbartonshire Council to the sword. And I have not the slightest intention of giving up on that. Not now, not ever.

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