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Chief's departure stuns staff

Scotsman editor in shock exit as anniversary looms

Ian Stewart, editor in chief at The Scotsman Publications, is leaving just three weeks before the paper is due to celebrate its bicentenary.

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.

Take out the bag, crisps and biscuits and how much is left for the paper?

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.

10 Comments to Scotsman editor in shock exit as anniversary looms

  1. Stopped buying this unionist rag when Andrew Neil took over. After he departed to spread his twisted reasoning on the BBC I tried reading it on line, but more hate filled unionist drivel fills article upon article. It looks likely, “The National,” if it has not yet done so, will very shortly overtake The Scotsman in sales. Such a situation is self inflicted upon what was once, a national treasure. Ian Stewart is being pragmatic, the end game is not far off.

  2. Like Iain Taylor, I used to buy both The Scotsman and Scotland On Sunday, but haven’t bought either for about 20 years. Iain’s depiction of the character of both papers as “some rarely encountered composite of John Buchan, Harry Lauder, and the Duke of Buccleuch” brilliantly encapsulates their problem.

  3. I began buying the Scotsman every day when I was a student, then I staarted buying Scotland on Sunday. I haven’t bought them for about 20 years since those in charge decided it should represent the views of some rarely encountered composite of John Buchan, Harry Lauder and the Duke of Buccleuch.

    • “[S]ome rarely encountered composite of John Buchan, Harry Lauder and the Duke of Buccleuch.”

      Excellent – the Hootsmon’s Union-flag-wrapped demograph to a tee!

  4. This once good newspaper has been in decline since 1996 when the awful Andrew Neil took over as Editor in Chief, and dragged it down the road of his right wing agenda, losing its once loyal readership – and sales. I would like to see it taken over by someone who is capable of making it a balanced publication, and not a mouthpiece for raving unionists – but doubt if such an animal with the required amount of dosh exists. A new Editor in Chief will just follow the same old agenda of the current proprietors!

    • Unbiased reporting might be a start. Their support of the status quo rather than Scottish Independence was clearly a mistake. (Cf The National stats)

  5. Pathetic prejudiced comment.

    A sad day no doubt approaches for a once great newspaper.

    Quite a lot of us will miss it We will !

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