The fight to save Scotland’s newspapers starts here

After more than 100 years as Scottish institutions, The Daily Record and The Sunday Mail are on the brink.

Following last month’s announcement of 90 job losses – around 40% of the editorial staff – the papers’ owners in London, Trinity Mirror, have now done the one thing readers and journalists were always assured would never happen.

They are trying to turn your newspapers into token Scottish editions of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.

Just over a decade ago, they tried to launch a Scottish edition of the Mirror. It failed, not because of any lack of effort or ability on the part of the journalists who worked on it – but because Scottish readers had no appetite for a Daily Mirror with a few token Scottish trimmings.

Yet now they are trying it again – only in a more subtle, sneaky way.

This week, you will have noticed a sudden, dramatic change to the design and layout of the Record. This was carried out for one reason only – to mimic the design of the Mirror and make it easier for pages written and produced in London to be pasted directly into your Daily Record and Sunday Mail.

From the start of August, approximately half of the content in the Record and Mail will be written, designed and sub-edited in England. This includes a significant proportion of the news content and almost all of the features content, including long-established, much-loved sections such as Woman and Vital, along with supplements and our magazines.

The news pages will be produced in London and the features work has been sub-contracted out to the Press Association in Howden, Yorkshire.

The Trinity Mirror board think that you won’t notice what’s happening and they can sneak these scandalous changes past you – but already hundreds of our loyal readers have called or written in to complain. In addition, outraged Scottish politicians and are busy lobbying the Trinity Mirror board in London and their Scottish executives, demanding that they halt their catastrophic plans.

We are now calling on you, our readers, to help us fight these changes.

These proud papers have been at the centre of Scottish media culture for more than 100 years. They’ve provided excellent news, sport and cultural reportage and analysis during that time – stories written by the people of Scotland, about the people of Scotland, for the people of Scotland.

If the Trinity Mirror board get their way, Scottish content in the Record and Mail will be piecemeal.

Real-life Scottish features will be replaced by real-life English ones.
Scottish showbiz coverage will be drastically reduced.
UK and international news will be written in England for an English audience.
What Scottish news remains will be competing for space with homogenised, non-specific, space-filling content from agencies and English papers.

Trinity Mirror will claim that times are hard for newspapers and tough decisions have to be made. And it’s true that many newspaper groups in the UK are struggling to survive.

Trinity Mirror is not one of them. The last available financial results for the Scottish titles show that the Record and the Mail made almost £15m profit.

Given that the Scottish market is a tenth of the size of the English market, this means the Record and the Mail are disproportionately profitable for Trinity Mirror. Yet the board seem hell-bent on destroying them.

Trinity Mirror’s overall profits for 2010, reported in March this year, were £123.3million – UP 17% on 2009. This represented a hefty 16.2% profit margin (up from 13.8%) on group revenue of £761.5million. Many companies would be delighted with a 16% profit margin in the good times, never mind the middle of a global recession.

Times are hard, they tell us – yet in the past 11 years, Trinity Mirror annual reports reveal profits totaling nearly £2BILLION.

Times are hard – yet last year the group’s chief executive Sly Bailey took a £1.6million pay and bonus package, the latest in a long-line of seven-figure rewards, while thousands of staff across Trinity Mirror have been kicked out on the street. Now almost 100 Scottish journalists and their families are losing sleep about their futures and whether they will be able to pay their bills next month.

At a time when The News Of The World, the Sunday Mail’s biggest rival, has suddenly disappeared from the marketplace and newspaper publishers are scrambling to attract its former readers by advertising heavily and offering cover price discounts, the Trinity Mirror board are refusing to advertise the Sunday Mail or discount its cover price. Yet the Sunday Mirror is being advertised heavily in Scotland.

You may well speculate about the motives for such a baffling strategy and what it may imply about their attitudes towards, and their long-term plans for, the Daily Record and Sunday Mail.

Make no mistake, this is the start of a process that could ultimately see the Daily Record and Sunday Mail brands disappear from Scotland forever.

If they get away with this first step, it is more than likely that more Scottish journalists will be axed in the near future and the Scottish content of the papers will diminish even further.

This site is designed to raise awareness about these unprecedented cuts and, especially, the Anglifcation of a product considered to be as much a part of Scottish society and culture as Irn-Bru, The Old Firm, whisky and Tunnock’s.

We also hope that you will help us spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and across the internet.

The Record and The Mail are determinedly Scottish products and what is happening to them amounts cultural vandalism.

Please “Like” our Facebook site – there’s a link to it at the top of the column to your right – and link to it via Twitter and whatever other social media tools you have at your disposal – and ask your friends to do the same.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them here and we will respond as best we can.

You may also wish to contact managing director Mark Hollinshead and editor Bruce Waddell to complain about these plans. Call 0141 309 3000 and ask for their offices or write to them at: Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail, One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA. If you do, leave a message here to let us know you have.

Please join our fight and spread the word about the fact that two of the few truly Scottish newspapers currently face losing half of their staff and half their content – and, as a result, their entire Scottish identity.

In newspapers with a proud history of campaigning and a sure moral compass, the one story we are not being allowed to publish is the one about the crusading Scottish workplace losing half its staff to drive up profits for profiteering English paymasters.

This is not about people pledging allegiance to the Daily Record or anti-English bias.

This is about people showing their disgust at corporate greed.
Showing their support for a vibrant Scottish press in Scotland as we head towards an independence referendum.
And raising awareness about the plight of the Scottish newspaper industry, which is on the brink of disappearing altogether.

We appreciate your support.

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