JOURNALISM: New project to highlight independent local news publishers



A Google-funded project, highlighting the work of Scottish independent community-based news publishers, is to be launched in Glasgow with the multilingual hyperlocal magazine, Greater Govanhill, awarded a grant to embark on a collaborative initiative.

The project aims to ‘develop an innovative news product showcasing the best stories from Scotland’s independent local, community-based media’. The grant is part of Google News Initiative’s Innovation Challenge for Europe – a programme which aims to help smaller titles produce original journalism to create a ‘more sustainable and diverse news ecosystem’.

A description of the Greater Govanhill project explains: ‘Right across Scotland, a wide range of independent local news publishers are providing communities with a vital service by sharing public interest news. Yet many are on the brink – surviving on little or no income [only] thanks to the dedication of a few key individuals. We need to strengthen this sector, and collaboration is a key means of doing this. It will enable publishers to share skills, resources and information – strengthening the sector and exploring new revenue opportunities’.

The project will use innovative membership software and impact tracking software to enable publishers to trial new practices. The benefits include maximising resources and increased revenue possibilities – uniting those with diverse expertise, stronger content and enhanced reach.

Ludovic Blecher, head of innovation at Google News Initiative, told Scottish Review: ‘With 605 applicants from 38 countries, we were impressed by the diversity and the quality of the proposed projects. There were creative solutions to common business challenges, including news organisations engaging with more diverse audiences, and providing greater transparency into how powerful institutions such as businesses and governmental organisations operate’.

Less than a year after its launch in December 2020, Greater Govanhill magazine, which was founded and is currently edited by Rhiannon J Davies, won the Regional Magazine of the Year award from News Awards UK. The judges described it as ‘fresh and innovative’, and a ‘runaway winner’. It has subsequently picked up further awards.

Greater Govanhill’s first issue was paid for by a community crowdfunding exercise and it has since raised funds through a mix of advertising from local independent organisations, membership revenue, and small-scale grant funding.

Rhiannon impressed upon Scottish Review: ‘We believe in doing journalism differently. We want to do journalism that serves the community and brings about positive change. A huge part of that is being open, approachable and inclusive’.

2. PPA Scotland reveals shortlists for its annual awards
The Professional Publishers Association Scotland (PPA Scotland) has revealed the shortlists for its annual awards. This year’s winners will be announced at a dinner at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth on 30 November.

The shortlists are dominated by publications involving the DC Thomson (DCT) and Think Publishing stables, while Holyrood magazine and its editor Mandy Rhodes are in the running for several awards. Mandy is shortlisted in three categories – Editor, Columnist and Writer of the Year – with another three Holyrood writers also vying for top prizes. Meanwhile, Holyrood magazine itself is in contention in four categories: Business Publication, Commercial Performance, Event and Magazine Cover.

DC Thomson’s golf magazine, bunkered, is well to the fore: shortlisted in the Event, Magazine and Podcast categories. Robert Wight, editor of DCT’s The Scots Magazine, is in the running for Editor of the Year, while the magazine is contesting the Brand Extension and Consumer Publication categories.

The shortlists for this year’s awards include:

Brand Extension: Little Escapes, DC Thomson; Love Scotland Podcast, National Trust for Scotland, Think; Scottish Caravans & Motorhomes Touring Special 2, The Scots Magazine, DC Thomson.

Business Publication: EHN, Think; Holyrood, Dods Group; Surgeons’ News, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Children’s Magazine: 110% Gaming, DC Thomson; Beano, DC Thomson; and Splash!, Whale & Dolphin Conservation.

Columnist: Michael McEwan, bunkered, DC Thomson; Mandy Rhodes, Holyrood, Dods Group; Louise Wilson, Holyrood, Dods Group.

Commercial Performance: Holyrood, Dods Group; Ski & Board, Think.

Consumer Publication: The Big IssueEnable Magazine, DC Publishing; Menopause MattersThe Scots Magazine, DC Thomson.

Customer/Member Publication: Historic Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Think; Insight, Children in Scotland; National Trust for Scotland Members’ Magazine, National Trust for Scotland, Think; RPS Journal, Royal Photographic Society, Think.

Designer: Adele Juraza, Beer52; Mark Neil, The Big Issue; Amanda Richardson, Think.

Editor of the Year: Pamela Brook, Menopause Matters; Rhiannon J Davies, Greater Govanhill; Mandy Rhodes, Holyrood, Dods Group; Bryce Ritchie, bunkered, DC Thomson; Alan Roden, 1919 Magazine; Sarah Speirs, CA Magazine, ICAS, The River Group; Robert Wight, The Scots Magazine, DC Thomson.

Event: The Art of Breaking The Rules, Beano, DC Thomson; bunkered LIVE, DC Thomson; COP26 Fringe Festival, Holyrood, Dods Group.

Launch/Relaunch: Botanics, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Think; Glug, Beer52; The List, List Publishing.

Magazine Cover: The Big Issue Redesign cover, The Big Issue; DONE? – Is This The End of Tiger Woods?, bunkered, DC Thomson; Party Faithful, Holyrood, Dods Group; Six young photographers to watch, RPS Journal, Think.

Media Brand: Winner to be announced on the night.

Newsletter: Menopause MattersMy Weekly, DC Thomson; and Petplan customer content, Think.

Podcast: The bunkered Podcast, DC Thomson; and Love Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Think.

Sustainability Initiative: Winner to be announced on the night.

Writer of the Year: Gemma Fraser, 1919 Magazine; Laura Kelly, The Big Issue; Chris Marshall, Holyrood, Dods Group; Mandy Rhodes, Holyrood, Dods Group; Ciaran Sneddon, RPS Journal, Think; Margaret Taylor, Holyrood, Dods Group.

Young Journalist: Eilidh Akilade, The Skinny; Rory Doherty, The Skinny; Robyn Gilmour, Ferment, Beer52; Megan Merino, The List, List Publishing; Xuanlin Tham, The Skinny.

3. Journalistic duo from The Scotsman win awards
Two journalists on The Scotsman’s staff are featuring in National World’s inaugural Editorial Excellence Awards. Martyn McLaughlin won the Best Use of Data category and David Hepburn triumphed in the Digital Engagement of the Year section at the awards ceremony in Leeds, co-hosted by National World’s deputy editor-in-chief, Gary Shipton.

Gary told Scottish Review: ‘As we worked through more than 100 entries for the 15 awards, the extraordinary talent, creativity and expertise of our journalists shone through. Whether they are taking videos, recording podcasts, or bringing their own unique and trusted insights to key local stories, the professionalism of today’s reporters and videographers is outstanding.

‘Their powerful investigative skills, for example, in campaigning to reduce suicides among young people was particularly notable. There was also no shortage of humour as demonstrated by a winning video of a biscuit dunking test. As we celebrate this level of achievement we can be hugely optimistic about the future of our industry.’

National World’s Journalist of the Year is Stephen Briggs, of the Peterborough Telegraph, and the Lifestyle/Features Journalist of the Year award has gone to Abbey Maclure, of the Yorkshire Evening Post. The most improved brand was Belfast-based Farming Life.

4. Alex Forsyth to host BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions?
BBC political correspondent Alex Forsyth is the new host of Any Questions? on BBC Radio 4 – succeeding Chris Mason in the wake of his appointment as the BBC’s political editor. Alex’s debut programme will be broadcast on Friday 4 November from East Midlands Airport, with members of a live audience putting questions to a panel drawn from across the entire political spectrum. Alex told us: ‘Any Questions? is one of the rare forums that allows people to put their questions directly to politicians and leaders, and I see my role as trying to get the answers they seek’.

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