Kenneth Roy has greeted the new chief executive of Johnston Press, Ashley Highfield, with a reminder about the parlous state of his company’s Edinburgh-based flagship, The Scotsman.
Calling Highfield the man with the golden hiya (due to his handsome welcoming “gift” of shares worth £500,000), Roy then points to The Scotsman’s print circulation decline.
While it used to sell 80,000+, its sale has since declined steadily, achieving just 38,787 last month.
But will digital be its saviour? Highfield, though lacking newspaper experience, comes from a background in new technology and online publishing. “Ominously,” notes Roy, “he is also described as a management consultant.”
He continues: “It is therefore fairly safe to assume that (a) Johnston Press may be seeing a new future for itself online; and (b) it will be employing fewer journalists in the future.”
Then he speculates that “sooner or later – probably sooner – a serious newspaper in Britain will ditch print, giving it up as a lost cause, and go for broke online.
“Could it be The Guardian, which in print is sinking faster in the west than most of its rivals, but has an internet-savvy readership?
“Or might we see some pre-emptive strike north of the border – Mr Highfield, anxious to justify his golden hiya, leading the dear old Scotsperson into some revolutionary reincarnation? Stranger things have undoubtedly happened.”
Source: Scottish Review
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.