If the news from earlier in the week - that Donald Martin, editor of the Evening Times had been promoted to the post of editor-in-chief of the Herald group of newspapers - wasn't worrying enough, news that one of Mr Martin's first acts in the newly-created role was to make all 235 journalists at The Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald redundant shows that things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse at the Newsquest's Glasgow titles.
In this humble commentator's opinion, Mr Martin's tenure at the Evening Times was a something of a disappointment, not just for the newspaper, but for local democracy in this city, as in effect Mr Martin turned the once-respected voice of the people of Glasgow into a cross between the Daily Star and the council's 'Glasgow Magazine'.
On many occasions Mr Martin refused to cover stories of fundamental importance to the people of Glasgow, instead focusing on double-page photo-shoots of Zzz-list dinner parties, or giving front-page headlines to trivial, obscure news items ("18-hour flight delay" remains a classic!).
During his time at the Evening Times Mr Martin's track record as editor was widely pilloried in the online version of his own newspaper by his own readers, where a scathing public vented their fury at their perceived 'loss' of a Glasgow publishing icon. Some of the comments, which escaped the online editor's 'red pen' and are therefore still available online, include:
"Donald Martin's editorship of this paper as been a nightmare."
"... the reporting from the Evening times this week has been terrible. Terrible. Its been worse than a local free newspaper. If Donald Martin the editor doesn't care about reporting what is really happening in Glasgow then the ET is going to lose a lot of readers. Invest in more investigative reporters please."
"It's interesting to note that Mr Martin adopts the same style and rhetoric as some of Glasgow's senior councillors: bombastic finger-waving coupled with empty growled threats. No doubt Mr Martin is also - like said councillors - a flailing anachronism adrift in a sea of mediocrity."
"Is Donald Martin that insecure that he needs to threaten and harass people so that he can feel good about himself? Nobody is disputing that litter is a problem. No one is disputing that people should be made to account for their actions. What is under dispute is why the Evening Times has appointed themselves #1 Big Man and is embarking upon a shameless campaign of bullying, intimidation, and violence."
"The attitude of the editor Donald Martin seems very out of step with the readers of this newspaper. I emphasise the word news here. Although the Evening Times has had a history of very good journalism in the 80's & 1990's and good social issue campaigns, this litter lout naming & shaming comes across as very petty and more in line with something that News International would do with The Sun or the Daily Record. The Evening Times is supposed to be better than that. I feel Donal Martin's talents would be more suited the tastes of The Scottish Sun or Daily Record."
"I am going to make a prediction: If Donald Martin doesn't change his strategy for the Evening Times then Newquest will either move Martin or sack him. This litter bug saga is just one of many articles which have totally alienated the readership of the Evening Times over the last couple of years. The readership of the Evening Times is more intelligent than Donald Martin realises. We are not Sun or Daily Record readers. We actually want to know whats happening in Glasgow . Why Martin doesn't see this i don't know."
"Mr Martin is very insecure: he's seen ET sales figures plummet, even with a 50% cut in cover price, together with point-of-sale freebies that amount to up to over 500% of that cover price (e.g. spaghetti bolognese sauce). This silly little campaign is the desperate act of a desperate publication, struggling for credibility... and losing!"
"I think the editor Donald Martin has lost the plot. This is not front page news. Considering all the other things that Glasgow wants to know, Martin really doesn't know his readers."
Now that Mr Martin is editor-in-chief of the Herald group of newspapers it would be a travesty if his 'winning formula' (which according to the latest ABC figures for the first half of 2008 saw the Evening Times' headline circulation fall 8.4 per cent year on year to an average of 72,535 a day) was allowed to devalue The Herald. Unfortunately his first move in the new post which has seen all journalists sacked and invited to re-apply for a diminished pool of jobs in a new multimedia editorial structure does not bode well for the future.
Commenting, STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith said:
"These forced changes by the Herald and Times Group and the manner of their implementation is very worrying. It will undoubtedly cause severe problems within the group and cause major worry for the employees and their families. This further diminution of the already overstretched capacity of Scottish journalism is of extreme concern in our democracy."
The NUJ's Scottish organiser, Paul Holleran, said:
"This is a brutal attempt at forcing changes which can only cause major problems in these titles. There are changes taking place across the media industry, with redundancies and new technology being introduced. Every other media employer in Scotland is working with the union to try to handle these changes in a civilised manner. No-one in the workforce will be surprised that this is the first action of the new editor-in-chief, Donald Martin. To say he's getting off on the wrong foot is the understatement of the year."
In a press release, Pete Wishart MP, SNP Culture spokesperson, said the cuts were "a sad day for Scottish journalism", adding:
"Any decision that threatens news coverage and quality is clearly troubling and these cut backs are a backward step by the group’s owners. When Newsquest acquired these newspapers they made a commitment to develop and invest in them, regrettably those words do not seem to have been backed up by investment."