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Gavin Greig [userpic]

Caledonian Mercury

January 25th, 2010 (07:53 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Hurrah! for a new Scottish newspaper, albeit not a very traditional one. The Caledonian Mercury, a name last used for a Scottish paper in 1867, is mostly going to appear online, with occasional print editions. It’s a commercial venture written by real journalists working freelance, and is an attempt to break out of the straitjackets (various) of the current print media.

It makes the expected promises about wanting to be a positive contribution to journalism north of the border. It makes a rather less expected, but welcome, promise not to subject itself to the Scottish cringe.

It’ll be interesting to see how it measures up. My impression on its first day of official publication is that it’s made a good start.

There isn’t as much content as in the more traditional newspapers, and some of it’s obviously been written as much as a few weeks ahead of the launch date, but what is there covers stories I haven’t seen addressed elsewhere, and covers them well, so on day 1 it has added value.

It’s difficult to address the issue of the Scottish cringe without straying into partisan politics, and generating more heat than light. I think that’s a shame, as a pride in Scotland should not be in itself a political issue. Venture into the comment sections in other online news sources, though, and you’ll see vehement amateur politicians metaphorically kicking lumps out of each other, and accusing the publication and each other of outrageous bias; either as tartan-swathed revolutionaries or Anglophile Quislings.

No-one comes out of that sort of “debate” smelling of roses, and I’m hesitant to suggest that either side might have a point; but it does seem to me that at a time when there’s an SNP government in Holyrood there’s a lack of traditional news outlets – even Scottish ones – prepared to give Scottish issues a fair shake and discuss what’s being done or said seriously, on its merits – or even to discuss them at all, sometimes.

My first impression is that the Caledonian Mercury’s political coverage hasn’t succumbed to using unprofessionally prejudicial language, but has been quite even-handed and considered in its coverage of the parties. There’s more coverage of some parties than others, but that may balance out over time.

If for no other reason, you must visit it as the new home of Rab McNeil’s Holyrood sketch – once upon a time the last reason I clung on to buying The Scotsman! (And I like their unicorn.)