Staff merging as sales decline
Herald titles facing shake-up as Newsquest orders change
The Sunday Herald has been subject to a backlash from nationalists
The Herald and Sunday Herald editorial teams are poised to merge amid speculation that further change is on the cards at the Glasgow-based titles.
Sunday Herald staff were told at a meeting last week that they would be expected to also work for the daily Herald, after owner Newsquest considered closing the title, according to sources.
One option is to rebrand the tabloid Sunday Herald as the Herald on Sunday, with a return to a broadsheet format.
The Sunday Herald has been a staunch supporter of independence but has faced a backlash from nationalists who claim it has softened its stance. There was talk of a boycott after the paper used a photo of a small number of unionist counter-protestors at a pro-independence rally on its front page.
Newsquest managers have considered turning The National, the pro-independence daily newspaper, into a seven-day operation to win back disaffected Sunday Herald readers and help underpin The National which sells fewer than 10,000 copies a day.
Sunday Herald editor Neil Mackay resigned last week after three years in charge, citing “health reasons”. In a posting on Twitter he said: “I’m leaving as Sunday Herald editor but returning as writer-at-large across the Herald titles.
“Some ill-health made me reassess my priorities. I loved my years as editor but the role is all-consuming and getting back to writing is what I want. Salute to the team – best in the business.”
His departure followed the resignation of news editor Angela Haggerty after just three months in the job. She was previously sacked by the paper in a row with Rangers Football Club. She said she was leaving because of “threats and abuse” aimed at her online.
Newsquest last year announced that Graeme Smith, editor of The Herald, and Graham Shields, editor of the Evening Times would leave and be replaced by Donald Martin as editor-in-chief.
Smith and Shield’s exit followed the departure in 2015 of Richard Walker from the Sunday Herald and Tony Carlin from the Evening Times.
There is speculation that Walker could be brought back as editor of a new Sunday National.
He drove the circulation to a high of 32,204 copies in the run-up to the independence referendum. But since then sales have dwindled to 18,387, although many readers have moved online.
The Herald sells 25,869 copies, according to ABC figures for the last six months of 2017.
The Sunday Herald’s launch in 1999 was hailed as a great boost for jobs in journalism, but what it really did was split the indigenous Sunday sale. Edinburgh-based Scotland on Sunday was at the time outselling The Sunday Times Scotland and never recovered from this cannibalising of its readership.
Some argue that there have always been too many newspapers in Scotland, a case made stronger by the shift towards online consumption of news which has raised more questions about the survival of some titles.
Scotland on Sunday‘s former staffers held a get-together last week to mark 30 years since it launched. Late into the night there were about half a dozen hardy souls left in the bar, more than the current complement of full-time dedicated staff.