Newspaper launch:
Sunday Herald

Sunday May 22 2011 saw Scotland's Sunday Herald achieve a wider fame particularly online when it printed a front page picture of footballer Ryan Giggs with a 'censored' banner across his eyes. The paper had shown the Manchester United player in relation to a super-injunction to prevent the press writing about an affair or even mentioning the gagging order he was alleged to have had with Welsh model Imogen Thomas. Editor Richard Walker said the legal gag only applied in England and Wales. Giggs' name had been widely circulated on the terraces and on Twitter. On Monday, he was named by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming in the House of Commons using parliamentary privilege.

The launch of the Sunday Herald in Scotland as a broadsheet took place on February 7 1999. (On 20 November 2005, the paper switched to a tabloid format.) The masthead declared: 'Welcome to no ordinary newspaper' and 'Scotland's independent newspaper'. Editorially, it was an ambitious project with a strategy to unite a Scottish readership behind a truly national paper, instead of there being a traditional readership that was regionally-divided. The impetus was provided by devolution and the creation of a Scottish parliament in Edinburgh (opened in July 1999).

The paper's stated editorial stance was no less than to be in the business of 'nation-making and nation-shaping'. And, it declared, this role was one that no other paper could take on -- neither the London-based papers that regionalised their coverage, nor any other Scottish paper. For none of the others was controlled in Scotland; instead, they were 'largely directed by -- and take their orders from -- executives based in London' (except the Sunday Herald's own group and DC Thompson in Dundee).

This page covers:

Scottish newspaper groups

See the Scottish Newspapers page for later details on these. In 1999, the market was led by the following companies.
  • Scottish Media Newspapers Ltd (now part of Newsquest; then Scottish Media Group), Glasgow: the Herald (Founded 1783. ABC sales: 101,450 in Aug 98- Jan 99), Evening Times (Founded 1876. 117,650), Sunday Herald (target 50,000 within a year)
  • Mirror Group, London: Daily Record published in Scotland: claims highest national newspaper readership penetration in the world (ABC sales: 678,817 in Aug 98-Jan 99)
  • Aberdeen Journals Ltd: Press and Journal (107,520)
  • DC Thompson, Dundee: Courier and Advertiser (97,284)
  • Scotsman Publications Ltd, Edinburgh: Scotsman (ABC sales: 80,326 in Aug 98- Jan 99), Evening News (83,699) and Scotland on Sunday (127,465

Sunday Herald contents

The 60p package came in five parts.
  • broadsheet covering news and business
  • Seven Days, a current affairs broadsheet
  • sports tabloid
  • Directory lifestyle tabloid
  • M, a 64-page, A4, colour magazine

Broadsheet main section

20-page broadsheet covering news and business (10 pages in colour). Used 7.5-column grid. Solus advertising from 2-column up to 4/4-page on most pages.
  • 7 pages of news
  • 2 news in focus
  • 3 international
  • 6 business reading in from the back cover (finance, economy, enterprise and media)
  • 1 personal finance
  • 1 colour display advertising (page 16) for Kwik-Fit. (Chairman and founder Sir Tom Farmer was one of several business leaders interviewed on page 15.)

Seven Days, current affairs broadsheet

  • Seven Days, current affairs broadsheet with 20 pages (8 in colour):
    • 6 pages of features and columns
    • 2 pages comment (including editorial staff list of 58)
    • 1 colour display advertising (page 7) for Forrest Furnishings
    • 10 pages recruitment advertising
    • back page: Working Week (motivation, stress, office politics)

Sports tabloid

A 24-page sports tabloid (12 colour, little advertising).
  • pages 1-7: football reports
  • 8-9: football features
  • 10-11: feature based on survey of football fans
  • 12-13: centre spread on Five Nations rugby
  • 14-16: rugby
  • 17: athletics
  • 18: general round-up
  • 19: racing
  • 20-21: football statistics
  • 22-23 features (golf, Formula One)
  • 22 When Sunday Comes: column by Ron McKay 'the voice of sport'

Directory lifestyle tabloid

Directory lifestyle tabloid covering home life and social life (11 pages colour, 13 pages advertising). Contents by page:
  1. index-style cover (colour)
  2. advert: Wimpey Homes (colour)
  3. home life: property (colour)
  4. property classified
  5. home life: architecture by Deyan Sudjic
  6. home life (half page): to-let adverts
  7. home life (half page): Tilbury Douglas Homes advert (half page)
  8. property adverts with single-column editorial
  9. property adverts with single-column editorial
  10. home life: design (colour)
  11. Beazer Homes advert (full-page colour)
  12. social life: cinema listings (colour centre spread)
  13. social life: cinema listings (colour centre spread)
  14. Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition advert (full-page colour)
  15. social life: film plus half-page coupon for free glass of wine (colour)
  16. social life: arts listings
  17. social life: arts listings
  18. classified adverts plus single column editorial
  19. social life: food and drink
  20. classified adverts
  21. love life: half-page personal classified
  22. semi-display adverts (mono)
  23. semi-display adverts (colour)
  24. Bett Homes (full-page colour)

Colour magazine

M, a 64-page heat-set, A4 colour magazine with seven-day TV listings. 10 pages of adverts made up of display and 3 pages semi-display in the travel section:
  • cover: Mel C profile of the Spice Girls
  • contents and columns: 3 pages
  • reportage, profiles, features: 14 pages
  • fashion: 4 pages
  • food: 4 pages
  • travel: 5 pages
  • salon (film, TV, books): 6 pages
  • 2 pages TV review
  • 14 pages of TV listings
  • horoscopes: 1 page

Web site and interactivity

The sixth part was a well-executed website. In fact, interactivity was a selling point of the whole paper, with readers given the opportunity to set the agenda for the paper:
  • corrections section (as seen in the Guardian);
  • e-mail addresses with writers' by-lines;
  • web addresses with features, such as a profile of the MD of coffee-makers Matthew Algie;
  • opinion polls by MORI every month of a thousand Scots;
  • the opportunity to vote on issues on the website;
  • free packets of Love Hearts sweets with copies of issue 2 (on sale Valentine's Day);
  • Valentine's Day in Venice on a flight chartered by the paper;
  • a voucher for a free glass of wine at wine bars around Scotland.
The whole package was up-market, though marred by the absence of any radio listings. Both broadsheet sections had business sections on their back pages. Even some of the names of the features might seem familiar to a web-surfing, sport-following, middle-class eye: a Salon section in the magazine (Salon is a web-based magazine); When Sunday Comes column (When Saturday Comes is a widely-distributed football fanzine); and comment from 'Private Aye' (Private Eye is a UK weekly satirical magazine).

The nation-forming agenda

The nation-forming aspiration had a commercial as well as a cultural agenda. Scotland's two biggest morning papers had specific heartlands, the Glasgow-based Herald for the West Coast and Edinburgh-based Scotsman for the East. This reflected their differing commercial activities: Glasgow for ship-building, engineering and football; Edinburgh for banking, insurance and rugby. Then the Press and Journal rules the North from Aberdeen and DC Thompson's Courier and Advertiser in Tayside. The success of the 50p Scotland on Sunday (from Scotsman owners) must have given the owners of the Herald an economic imperative as its great rival the Scotsman gained a foothold into the West Coast advertising base.

A news item in the main paper promoted the long-term merger of Glasgow and Edinburgh as the two cities expanded towards each other. However, any move to unite the nation around a common agenda may ultimately be compromised by the Sunday Herald's roots: Celtic's win over Hearts was the sports tabloid lead, not Scotland's defeat of the Welsh in the Five Nation's rugby tournament. Glasburgh would be the merged city, not Edingow. There was a Glasgow agenda to several news and features and the paper's mascot, a cartoon mouse [link], rubs his back on a Macintosh chair, itself a symbol of the city. Even staying with the Herald name betrays its partisanship when it comes to the crunch.

In the long-term, to become truly a national Scottish paper, might the Sunday Herald be faced with the same agonising decision as the Manchester Guardian in 1961 -- to move to the capital?

The editor: Andrew Jaspan

Andrew Jaspan was a very experienced editor, having held the post at the Sunday Times Scotland (1988-89), the London-based Sunday Observer (1995-96), and the Herald's great rivals, the Scotsman (1994-95) and Scotland on Sunday, which he launched (1989-94). So he should know the opposition inside out and have a feel for what would go down well north of the border from the ideas of the London papers. (Jaspan carried on in the job until September 2004, when he left to take up the editorship of The Age in Melbourne. Richard Walker, his deputy, took over.

The mysterious mouse

The Independent was criticised at its launch in 1986 for a lack of humour and taking itself too seriously. The Sunday Herald has headed off that criticism with a cartoon mouse who peeks around the editorial comment. Many other publications have mascots: the Express has its knight and Private Eye another, the Independent its eagle and heraldry brings us lions, unicorns and griffins. The Italian magazine Max has its lion.

But why a mouse? Surely it was not inspired by the 'Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie' of Burns? Nor his 'The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley.' Could it be because a mouse can go anywhere: to see a queen, or up a clock? And Shakespeare saw virtue in the mouse in Twelfth Night.

Horace, poet laureate to the Roman emperor Augustus wrote: 'Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.' Or, 'Mountains will be in labour and will give forth a ridiculous mouse.' Or perhaps it is a warning to those who might want to bring the Sunday Herald down, taken from Richard Braithwaite's Barnabee's Journal: I saw a Puritan-one hanging of his cat on Monday, for killing of a mouse on Sunday.'

In the end, the Sunday Herald wants to be the mouse that roared. (Though why the mouse should be called Harold is another question.)

Sources and links

Robert Burns: To a Mouse

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie
O what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!