Chief's departure stuns staff
Scotsman editor in shock exit as anniversary looms
Staff were described as “utterly speechless” at the timing of his exit.
Stewart was editor of the Evening News and Scotland on Sunday before becoming editor of The Scotsman and then assuming control of all three titles.
His tenure included introduction of the Friends of The Scotsman, featuring articles written by subscribers.
Insiders say that in recent months he had become less visible on the news room floor at The Scotsman as sales and revenue dwindled. The paper is now outsold by the Scottish edition of The Times, selling as few as 14,000 full-priced papers, according to some estimates.
The Scotsman has also been sold through roadside huts at a discounted £1, with biscuits, a bag and a packet of crisps thrown in.
There has been criticism that little has been done to hold on to high profile staff, leaving it to be filled with articles from wire services. There is talk of even more job cuts.
It is owned by London-based Johnston Press, a former Edinburgh company, whose tenure has been a troubled one, focused mainly on managing its enormous debt and cutting back on costs. Editorial investment has been minimal.
In 2014 Scotsman Publications left its home close to the Scottish Parliament and the BBC in Holyrood Road, where it had been based under the Barclay Brothers’ ownership. It moved into an office block on the fringe of the city centre.
Amid the cost-cutting, the executives of Johnston Press have continued to pay themselves huge bonuses.
In April 2015 the group announced that Ashley Highfield, the chief executive, received a total pay and bonus package of £1.65 million including a £645,000 bonus.
This was more than three times the £592,000 he received a year earlier.
Figures published in November showed that the group was being propped up by growth in sales and circulation of the ‘i’ newspaper, which it bought in April. In spite of refinancing the group, its debt has risen.