The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland

Quieter little voices

Posted on August 03, 2013 by

It’s been an interesting week for the Scottish media. First the Sun’s website vanished behind the clouds of a paywall, and today the Daily Record unveiled a new version of its tablet app which no longer gives readers the weekday paper for free.


(Both papers, naturally, presented these new restrictions as enhancements.)

That’s all well and good, of course – if we’re going to have a media at all in Scotland, papers need to make money to pay journalists with. But it’ll be fascinating to see if the increasing retreat of the print press from public access has an effect on the independence debate.

Readers of this site won’t need reminding that we spend much of our time holding the Scottish media to account for misinforming and sometimes outright lying to the public. But with the country’s two biggest-selling newspapers now both voluntarily reducing their reach, such failings may become less and less relevant.

It’s well-documented, of course, that that reach was already in steep decline, with circulation figures falling every month. But the economic imperatives of publishing that are causing proprietors to sacrifice readership numbers in order to concentrate on monetising those prepared to pay can only increase the influence of websites and social media in the 14 months between now and the independence referendum.

The Sun, Record, Herald, Telegraph and Times are now all behind varying degrees of paywall. Stats released by this week showed the curious fact that generally speaking, newspapers with online paywalls have seen the biggest falls in PRINT sales since the 2010 general election.


The press is of course overwhelmingly Unionist – not a single one of the publications above is supportive of independence. For so long as they continue to distort, spin, misrepresent and lie in the name of the Union, Yes supporters can only regard their growing woes as a good news story.

Print Friendly

    33 to “Quieter little voices”

    1. DougtheDug says:

      I don’t think it’s going to make a huge impact as there’s not going to be a significant decline in the print circulation of these papers between now and 2014 and much of the populace get their news and views via the television.
      The problem as always is going to be the BBC’s eagerness to run with Better Together press releases and its reluctance to question any of the “facts” in them allied with an attitude which is exactly the opposite when dealing with Yes Scotland.
      Its shift from being Labour’s PR wing to Better Together’s PR wing has been seamless.

    2. Patrick says:

      Sorry to be pedantic but the graphic shows @Daily_Telegraph behind a paywall, not sure if this is the case – I’ve never paid them

    3. HandandShrimp says:

      I don’t bother with papers behind pay walls – it is as simple as that. Given the amount of news on the internet with blogs like this and other sources I really don’t see a lot of point in papers in any more and after I cancelled the Herald a couple of years ago I haven’t taken a daily paper.

    4. pmcrek says:

      DougtheDug on the bright side though, only around 500,000 people watch Reporting Scotland and most of the BBCs political coverage and about 1/2 of them according to a recent BBC poll dont actually believe any of it 🙂

    5. HandandShrimp says:

      I would agree, thankfully the other news channels are not quite so fawning in support of Better Together. I think also the recent opinion poll showing that 52% did not think the BBC serve the interests of Scotland highlights that the BBC is in its partisan support for a moribund party is slowing shooting itself in all its appendages. The BBC used to have pretty much universal support from all but the most far right of the disgusted from Morningside sorts. 

    6. Doug Daniel says:

      Could the steeper decline of print sales for papers with a paywall not simply point to people choosing to forego the print version and moving to the online one instead? I recently decided to subscribe to the Herald, and as a result I’ve not bought a print version of the Sunday Herald – no point paying for something twice!

    7. HandandShrimp says:

      I think that is a fair point, do they include on line sales in the figures?

      I think pay walls might be attractive because it is way cheaper to make, no distribution costs, no newsagents cut and easy to change if the story changes. They don’t have to sell as much to make money. I think the day of the paper is numbered.

    8. DougtheDug says:

      It’s encouraging that the BBC’s unearned reputation for impartiality is failing in Scotland but the problem is that there is no TV channel in Scotland which supports independence and therefore although the BBC may not be watched by many or believed by many its ouput is partial with no alternative voice being broadcast as the output from STV and Border is no different.

    9. HandandShrimp says:

      I wouldn’t say that STV is anything like pro-independence but I find them less aggressively pro-Better Together. There is more of a chance of a fair hearing on an STV discussion and they do push the BT representative to answer questions.
      That said the Newsweek (or whatever it is called now)  thing this morning on the Beeb was pretty fair. This show has frequently been the best by far on the BBC.

    10. Richard Lucas says:

      I suppose the collapse in newspaper sales is the reason that the Tories peddle racism on poster vans these days #racistvan

    11. JLT says:

      I agree with Doug the Dug. Break the BBC, you break the media entirely.
      The only thing is, and it must be annoying the hell out of the BBC; as much as it tries to spin the referendum to a ‘No’ vote, it must look upon what the British Government is continually doing and curse.
      In its own way, the BBC is really fighting on two fronts. It is fighting against Independence, yet at the same time, it must find ways to put a positive spin on things such as the Bedroom Tax, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, downgrading of the Armed Forces, the reform of the Benefits system, etc. How can it paint a rosy picture of Unionism, when the very Union Government it loves, is hammering the Scottish people themselves?
      While the BBC, and the media, do try to promote these things in a more positive light, it is at the same time, gradually losing support as folk become sickened by Government policies, or what is blatantly, complete lies from the No mob.
      Most folk in Scotland are slowly learning the truth, and much to the chagrin and frustration of the BBC, as well as other parts of the media, the ‘Yes’ vote, just keeps on rising; slowly …but it is rising!
      I don’t know …but I feel something has to give. If the media keep on telling lies, and tries to spin Tory policies, then the more they anger the people of Scotland, the more the BBC will lose the argument. The BBC and media can’t have it both ways.
      If the Yes vote creeps to 45 to 50% by next summer, I think some papers may begin to hedge their bets, and may jump ship. Then watch the BBC panic!

    12. Richard Lucas says:

      Handily, old Rupert’s TV cash cow Sky contains the seeds of the BBC’s destruction.  Now we can easily access alternative views from news programmes all over the world.  Alex Salmond gets interviewed without contempt on Russia Today, Al Jaz shows us a view of the world that US client Britain would never allow. French, Indian and other views all there. I just wish that Germany’s Deutsche Welle  in English was available as well, but the dam has been breached.

    13. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Sorry to be pedantic but the graphic shows @Daily_Telegraph behind a paywall, not sure if this is the case – I’ve never paid them”

      It’s quite recent, but the Telegraph is now behind a paywall similar to (and as easily circumvented as) the Herald’s. You get a certain number of pages free a month, so if you only visit it occasionally you might not have encountered it.

    14. Gallowglass says:

      I stopped buying the Scotsman years ago.  I did buy it largely to pain myself with their torturous bias almost falling into the esteemed brand myself and perceiving others doing the same, trying to see what was in the side comments and boxes that you don’t see in online editions.  I honestly don’t care any longer, and I don’t think others do either if their circulations are anything to go by.  I think the biggest influence the print media has is actually the billboards.

    15. Iain says:

      Anyone know when the regional figures will next be out? It’d be interesting to compare SoS/SH circulations to see if the latter’s recent, slightly more Yes friendly approach is bearing any fruit.

    16. Steve Kidd says:

      Sad to say but Alex S have an excellent tv interview this week and it was on RT

    17. Colin Duffy says:

      I just don`t buy any of the Brit Nat press titles. Rarely does the media chime with public opinion, I think so anyway.
      I find it really insulting actually that so many of them have to lie and spin to try and shape public opinion to their agenda.
      A friend of mine made the mistake of going to the Daily Retard with a story of how he was conned by his business partner but he was now starting his own business, they twisted it around and made him out to be the bad guy.
      They are nothing but sensationalist scum in my opinion. Look at what they done to the hillsborough fans. Liverpool doesn`t buy the sun anymore and when Scots realize what the media have done in this country I hope the worst offenders are punished for it .

    18. seoc says:

      I dropped the ‘Glasgow Herald’ as it then was, some 25 years ago, after writing expressing my disgust at their increasing attempts to anglicise Scotland.
      They didn’t bother to reply.
      BBC Scotland seems to be in a similar position today – jaikit own a shoogly nail. It has little time left to become an honest trader, but an apology to the Scottish people and a return to journalistic integrity might just save them.
      Ah hae ma doots though, they seem to be doomed.

    19. Jamie Arriere says:

      Just having a thought – as more and more people are coming on this site and seeing everyone railing against the BBC, in order that they don’t think we’re a bunch of whingers or conspiracy theorists, it would be useful to have a reference section (called ‘Misreporting Scotland’) detailing the procession of BBC ‘misreports’ – even if it is a list of links to previous posts and news pages. If people can easily see how insidious and relentless it is, the argument will stand up to scrutiny.
      Just a suggestion (not a criticism) to highlight what is a major obstacle in the debate.

    20. Robert says:

      The circulation figure above – is that how many they sell in a whole month? Or is it the average daily circulation figure for that month? If it is the average daily then the Sun and the Record (similar circulation) are reaching around 10% of Scots every day. I reckon about 85% of those readers buy them mainly for the sport. If there was a better Scottish Sport/football news and gossip website then you could put those circulation figures down a lot over the next few years. Maybe the Yes campaign need to start a football gossip website!!! :o) 

    21. Dorothy Devine says:

      The BBBC in Scotland is trying to serve two masters in its support of the union. As I remember the immediate aftermath of the GE the news presenters were trying to shoehorn in the word
      ” Cuts” to every possible news broadcast as many times as possible being true to the Labour party in the process – now they are in a quandary as they desperately try to deny democracy in Scotland along with the rest of the ” establishment” and are splicing  their anti Tory rhetoric with anti independence/Yes Scotland /SNP /Alex Salmond  and their pro labour /No Scotland/Better together – fair ties them in knots.
      However it does not excuse them for the  drivel they  deliver.
      I have to believe that there are those employed in the mainstream media who are ,if not pro independence ,are at least fair minded and would wish for unbiased reporting .
      Surely  all mainstream journalism has not sunk so low or become so lazy that it will allow utter balderdash , piffle  and lies to go unchallenged?

    22. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “The circulation figure above – is that how many they sell in a whole month?”

      It’s daily.

    23. Seasick Dave says:

      Its sad really, in what should be the most exciting time in any of our lifetimes, that our ‘national’ press sees fit to nullify our aspirations with lies, half truths and propaganda.
      Never mind, karma rules 🙂

    24. Juteman says:

      The victory will taste all the sweeter Seasick Dave.
      To misquote Rob Roy, ‘independent despite them’.

    25. Shinty says:

      The decline in unionist rags can only be bad news for those of us with puppies, budgerigars and coal fires.

    26. Helena Brown says:

      Shinty, buy puppy pads, sheets of sandpaper and you can always use the unsolicited mail to light the fire, job done

    27. Juteman says:

      Sandpaper would cause havoc with my piles, Helena.

    28. Morag says:

      I’ve figured out an alternative way to deal with the used cat litter.
      I don’t know how I’m going to cope in chutney-making season, which is almost on us, though.

    29. Hazel Lewry says:

      You can get around the Telegraph pay-wall by clearing your cookies regularly too! Not sure about the rest of them. But it’s so easy to find the same stories in different web-sites that it makes me wonder why anyone would pay?

    30. Richie says:

      You can bypass the Herald paywall (and presumably the Telegragh) by using a private tab/window. The way you do when you go to gentlemen’s interest sites.

    31. Ken Johnston says:

      The ITV franchise in Scotland is due for renewal in 2014, I believe.
      Maybe some gentle inferring about renewing on a Yes vote might make them more amenable to be even-handed in the next 400 days.
      O/T But I think this is good. As said on Newsnight England last night. Fri.
      A quote from Jim Messina, the metadata polling guru Cameron has just recruited from Obama.
      Speaking of the Republicans. :-
      We have the maths, they have the myths. Transfer that to here, and how apt.
      YES Scotland has the maths, Project Fear has the myths.
      Good, Eh.

    32. Midgehunter says:

      @ Richard Lucas
      “I just wish that Germany’s Deutsche Welle  in English was available as well, but the dam has been breached”
      No need for the dambusters, those times are over thank goodness. However the Germans have cottoned on to the fact that English is widely spoken in Scotland.
      Just for you Richard
        (Top right click for English) Website
      Try this one too – top info
      Hope this helps, viele Grüsse.

    33. Angus McPhee says:

      Surely though The biggest reach and influence of the red tops is in the Howfs in the workplace at breakfast and T break… that’s just not going to work on a tablet. don’t these people even know where their readers are?

    Comment - please read this page for comment rules. HTML tags like <i> and <b> are permitted. Use paragraph breaks in long comments. DO NOT SIGN YOUR COMMENTS, either with a name or a slogan. If your comment does not appear immediately, DO NOT REPOST IT. Ignore these rules and I WILL KILL YOU WITH HAMMERS.

    ↑ Top