Happy new year – and some ideas for 2012 – from The Caledonian Mercury

caledonian mercuryA very happy new year to you all. Everyone at The Caledonian Mercury wishes you a’ the best for 2012.

This year is a crucial one for Scotland. And a crucial one for the Caley Merc.

First we have to overcome the kind of hangover that can only be described with frequent reference to scarier bits of the Old Testament.

Second, we face a year of enormous stories: from the Arab spring turning into its summer to the apparent meltdown of late model capitalism, from the Euroturmoil to the ongoing circus of the Westminster coalition.

Third, while the independence referendum will not happen this year, the debate will get more serious. There is much heat and very little light being shed on the facts of what is Scotland’s most important constitutional decision in 300 years.

However, the Scottish media is in a parlous state and not fit for purpose for the challenges ahead, as shown by Iain “Happy” Hepburn’s gloomy tour d’horizon in The Drum. In this piece he takes his customary swipe at our own august organ, pointing out the lack of a print edition and the reality of our situation compared to our bullish launch predictions.

Fair enough.

Since 25 January, 2010, we (and more specifically and accurately I) have made enough mistakes to write a book about how not to start a newspaper. (In fact, I have started work on one. It’s called Situation Excellent after Ferdinand Foch’s famous bulletin from the battle of the Marne: “Hard pressed on my right; center is yielding; impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent, I shall attack!”)

It has not been an easy two years. We are an independent publication, owned by the people who work for it. We have no rich backers. We are not owned by a large corporation. We are not a millionaire’s plaything. We have no major advertisers.

We have something that we feel is far more valuable than any of that: a close relationship with our readers. It is thanks to them – and especially our donors – that our experiment in finding an online future for Scottish quality journalism continues.

And continue it will.

Early next year:

  • We will unveil a redesign that better delivers that journalism.
  • We will publish stories in a more structured way and to a clearer timetable.
  • We will introduce a better comment system.
  • We will endeavour to give back more to our donors than simply the knowledge that they have been generous.
  • We want to start carrying out investigations – funded by our readers.

The Caledonian Mercury still stands for independent, investigative Scottish journalism. It aims to bring facts to bear on – and be an honest broker for – the debate over Scotland’s future. It is a platform for the voices of Scotland not heard in the media and we want it to be a place to discover emerging journalists.

As I wrote on 25 January, 2010:

This newspaper is an experiment in the evolution of media. It is a statement of belief in a better public life. It does not fear the possibility of failure and instead relishes the prospect of change. Most importantly, it holds dear the pledge of its antecedent: “To assert no falsehood and to hide no truth.”

Thank you all for reading and a happy new year.

Stewart Kirkpatrick
Editor, The Caledonian Mercury