After 41 years of providing journalists with news and opinion about their industry, the Press Gazette has been shut down.
That it should happen now will strike many as deeply ironic: following a recent takeover – involving former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan – the magazine is arguably livelier and more informative than it has ever been.
For this journalist – operating as a freelance for many, many years – the Press Gazette was more than just an interesting read. It was a connection; a lifeline, even. Freelancing can be quite lonely.
The Press Gazette’s Scottish stringer, Hamish Mackay, was essential reading if you wanted to remain more than vaguely in touch with what your colleagues and potential employers were up to.
Apparently, one of the last-ditch plans to save the title was an appeal to media organisations to buy shares in the magazine; but to remain hands-off, editorially. It comes as no surprise that nothing appears to have materialised: those same media organisations had been ‘killing the Press Gazette by a thousand cuts’ by declining to buy recruitment ad space.
Week after week, and the magazine might only have a couple of pages of job adverts; a pale reflection of the number actually out there.
Reading Harry Reid’s recent book about the history of the Scottish Press, he talks with understandable nostalgia of journalists at once rivals and clubable. The 1960s, in particular, really do sound like a golden era of Scottish journalism. But tell that to the few hardy souls who regulary attend NUJ meetings, or to the committee of the Edinburgh Press Club – now considering selling up. Low turnouts at both speak of hacks who barely care less.
The demise of the Press Gazette arguably opens new opportunities for a website such as allmediascotland.com – that’s one bit of the competition out of the way. The reality could not be further from the truth. The same forces of indifference that appear to have done in the magnificent Press Gazette will find allmediascotland.com probably even easier prey.