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> Disaster For Glasgow's Herald & Times, Betrayal of democracy in Glasgow
GG
post 3rd Dec 2008, 08:43pm
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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:
QUOTE
"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:
QUOTE
"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:
QUOTE
"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:
QUOTE
"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."

GG.


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pumps100
post 4th Dec 2008, 09:12am
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Thanks for flagging this up. I never appreciated that the papers were under US ownership. I used to follow the online edition of the Evening Times but I noticed in the past few years it went really downhill - formatted as if by 2nd year pupils.

The jury is certainly out on Mr Martin - he has had rapid quite a jump up for this present position. But the Scottish titles will be small fry compared to the US titles. I understand the expectations that the formerly overpriced Herald will go tabloid. And I wonder also if the Evening Times apparent bias in terms of coverage towards the team from the east end of the city will be a theme that migrates to the other titles?

I saw the below on a blog this morning.

Regards

Ian

Yesterday's poser over whether Donald Martin would make a good appointment for the titles met with a resounding no.

A majority of 78.1% said it would be the end of the world as they know it; some 12.5 said they preferred The Scotsman anyway, while just 9.4% think he will do a magnificent job.
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*Guest joethetaxi **
post 4th Dec 2008, 01:14pm
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The press and media in Scotland are in a dreadful state. They are being mismanaged and asset stripped. Sure this industry is suffering more than most through the changes in technology but this cannot excuse poor reporting and coverage of Scottish issues which will inevtiably be the result of fewer journalists on the ground.

The Evening Times and others had at one time a proud record of campaigning journalism.

STV is a shambles and BBC Scotland is shedding staff today too.

We need more investment from BBC and we need someone to restructure STV and perhaps one or more of Scottish newapaper titles to get them back on song.

Those who leave editorial team use your contacts well and set up decent guerrilla online alternative - why not wrap it in ebay or with other commercial partner.

Those that stay on in editorial teams are going to be too knackered to rebuild these titles.

All stats show Scotand to be a news hungry and politcally aware region - surely we deserve more than the fare that is currently being served to us.
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pumps100
post 4th Dec 2008, 05:45pm
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The only point I would like to make is that people in Glasgow had at one time one of the highest paper readership rates per capita in the world e.g morning paper, national, evening paper and so on.

Regards

Ian
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*Brad*
post 4th Dec 2008, 06:29pm
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I agree Ian, as I was one of those people who would buy three newspapers each and every day - four on a Saturday with the pink Evening Times. Glasgow had a fine brigade of tough-talking, hard-nose investigative journalists who were not afraid to mix it up with the establishment; this made for great news stories and great newspapers.

Now what we have is only the fading memory of a type of journalist who would go out in the field, ruffle some feathers and at the end of the day produce the goods. I expect the type of journalist Mr Martin is looking for is one who will be primarily desk-based (rehashing already-available web info), who most of all can be trusted not to upset the establishment, especially those who take out lucrative advertising contracts in the new, combined monstrosity.

What I think will happen is after Gannet has asset-stripped the group to its own content, they will sell and leave, and the people of Glasgow will have long disposed of any trust in The Herald and the Evening Times, or whatever remains thereafter.
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pumps100
post 4th Dec 2008, 07:48pm
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I would say that something appears to be stinking...

Was I not reading just a few months ago for the need for Scotland to be better represented with its own Culture Ministry headed by Rab C. Nesbitt's spouse Elaine C Smith?

Seems a long time away now.

Regards

Ian
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flam
post 4th Dec 2008, 09:46pm
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Hi All Where is Alex Salmond ,in the days before he was First Minister he would have had his band of loyal supporters outside the Times and Herald offices,or is he still on the sick,well lets have Nicola shouting from the tops, and to think we give Jonathon Ross all these millions,and BBC will likely be sacking people shocking Cheers Flim
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Tennscot
post 5th Dec 2008, 03:27am
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I grew up reading the Record,Express, Times, News, & Citizen. Citizen.. Long Gone, Kemsley House (Citizen) a Night Club and the Times a Comedy Club led by an unfunny Comedian. They could have promoted Steve Martin.
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Tennscot
post 5th Dec 2008, 03:29am
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Kemsley House should have read Evening News. Old age is creeping in.
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wellfield
post 5th Dec 2008, 06:18am
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Ah wonder what "Pat Roller" would think of Glasgow papers these days,his wee nightly crime column used to take up about 2" of space---not so today.
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pumps100
post 5th Dec 2008, 09:24am
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Good point by Flam. Where is Alex Salmond? He should be trying to help salvage matters. Is he still doing a punters column in any of the rags re the horses?
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*Taz*
post 5th Dec 2008, 11:30am
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IMO Mr Martin's template for the evening rag might have looked something like this:

- minimize crime reporting, especially the explosion in city centre crime
- demonize anyone/anything the council is in a huff with
- grossly exaggerate 'investment' in the city, while trivializing job losses
- never,ever seriously criticize a large public sector advertiser
- include a Glasgow schools' 'false feel-good' story once a week
- convert editorial space into advertorial space whenever possible
- highlight a New Labour council numpty at least once a day
- ignore the problems of ordinary Glaswegians every day

Taz.
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Glaswegian
post 5th Dec 2008, 12:19pm
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QUOTE (pumps100 @ 5th Dec 2008, 09:23am) *
Good point by Flam. Where is Alex Salmond? He should be trying to help salvage matters. Is he still doing a punters column in any of the rags re the horses?


The First Minister has questioned the long-term credibility of the group if its American multi-national does not reconsider its path:

QUOTE
First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament Mr Salmond said: "This is a difficult time for the Scottish media and the Scottish press. There's a range of possible redundancies across a number of outlets. But nonetheless it would be far better to approach these in a manner of negotiation."

"If this was happening in another employer in Scotland, if an approach was being taken to make an entire workforce redundant and then to ask people to re-apply for their jobs, what would we imagine that the editorial stance of The Herald newspaper - in its traditions - would be?

"The owners of the Herald group should think carefully about the credibility of the newspaper given the actions and style that they've adopted."


--------------------
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Telling it like it is!
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*RIKKI*
post 5th Dec 2008, 12:57pm
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The party’s workplace organiser Richie Venton said :

“The Herald’s American owners, Gannet, made a profit of 26.3 million in Scotland last year and their behaviour with these sackings is outrageous.”

“As a party we offer our full support to Herald workers facing this vicious attack on their jobs and we will do all we can to build solidarity with them across Scotland and beyond.”

“It is imperative that this attack on workers jobs and conditions is defeated and that this greedy employer is made to think again,”
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pumps100
post 5th Dec 2008, 04:14pm
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QUOTE (Taz @ 5th Dec 2008, 03:29pm) *
IMO Mr Martin's template for the evening rag might have looked something like this:

- minimize crime reporting, especially the explosion in city centre crime
- demonize anyone/anything the council is in a huff with
- grossly exaggerate 'investment' in the city, while trivializing job losses
- ignore the problems of ordinary Glaswegians every day
- and so on...


Good post. But you forgot the Mr Martins apparent bias towards all things green and white. Close to Glasgow City fathers and ...

Check out todays sports page as an example:-

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/sport/

Regards

Ian
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