Scotsman Chief Hits Back at Sunday Herald Defence of its Sales Drop

The editor-in-chief of The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News has hit back at claims made by the publishers and editor of rival title, the 'new Sunday Herald'.

It follows news released just two hours ago that the Sunday Herald – which relaunched in January as a single section 'news magazine' – had seen its average sale in Scotland fall by 21 per cent between February last year and last month: from 41,796 to 32,936.

The drop in circulation prompted the new Sunday Herald's publishers, the Herald & Times Group, to assure the paper “is not losing money despite intensive counter-marketing and cover price cutting by other newspapers, which undoubtedly affected our circulation in February”. Last week, Scotland on Sunday promoted its 'six great sections' and was available for £1 – instead of £1.70 – in the West of Scotland.

The rebuttal is from John McLellan, editor-in-chief at Scotsman Publications.

It is partly aimed at Sunday Herald editor, Richard Walker, who told allmediascotland: “Scotland on Sunday makes us try harder and makes us a better newspaper. It is a competitor I respect. Equally, the Sunday Herald makes SoS a better paper. But there's a difference between healthy competition and trying to drive a competitor out of business. I detect a bit of a 'fight to the death' attitude from some in the SoS camp. I don't really understand that. You can be competitors without being deadly enemies.”

Says McLellan, in response: “Richard seems to have forgotten it was the Sunday Herald which until recently traded at an unviable £1 a copy for the best part of a year, so it’s a bit rich being lectured by him about competition.

“And who set out to wound who? No-one should be fooled into believing the launch of the Sunday Herald was about anything other than stopping a highly successful Scotland on Sunday in its tracks to protect the Glasgow Herald’s classified markets.”

Walker further said: “The important thing, surely, is that indigenous Scottish journalism can survive and flourish. It's vital that happens otherwise there is a real risk that important Scottish stories will not get the coverage and the prominence that they deserve and that would have a real impact on the country. Of course I want to sell more papers than Scotland on Sunday and of course they want to sell more papers than we do. That's entirely right and natural. But I don't want to see Scottish journalism wounded and reduced as the two main Scottish quality Sundays spend so much time and energy tearing themselves apart that the London-based titles can make even more successful inroads into the Scottish market.”

It prompted McLellan to add: “Maybe Richard thinks we should sit back and let the thousands of readers deserting the Sunday Herald go to a London-based title rather than Scotland on Sunday? It seems very strange for him to attack us for making sure there is a future for one indigenous quality Sunday because the Sunday Herald has proved beyond all reasonable doubt there isn’t room for two.”

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