The publisher of the Scottish local newspaper, the Wee County News, has gone into liquidation.
Staff at Forth Independent Newspapers were told of the news today.
In total, seven full-time journalists are affected, plus several regular freelancers. The papers involved are (based in Alloa:) the Wee County News, the Allanwater News, the Strathallan News and Eastside News and (based in East Kilbride:) the East Kilbride Mail, Eastwood Today and the Avondale Mail.
All the papers were free titles except the Wee County News, which was founded in 1995 and sold for 45p.
The East Kilbride Mail was bought four years ago, by Forth Independent, for an undisclosed sum. The Wee County News was part of a management buyout – thus creating Forth Independent – nine years ago. It had previously been published by Johnston Press, publishers of The Scotsman.
Operations director, Willie Mack, and managing director, Pauline McCart, have yet to respond to attempts by allmediascotland.com to reach them.
Earlier this year, allmediascotland.com reported the Wee County News was among just four Scottish local newspapers to have bucked a national trend of declining year-on-year sales: its average sale of 6,045 between June and December last year represented a 3.1 per cent year-on-year increase.
The Wee County News editor, Martin Little, told allmediascotland.com: “It's a very sad day for all involved at Forth Independent Newspapers. I would like to thank the very many talented staff I have worked with during my time at both the Alloa and East Kilbride offices, for their tireless efforts over the years.”
Little, who also edited the Strathallan News, the Allanwater News and the Eastside News, added: “There were very many proud moments for all involved, most notably the rise in circulation of the Wee County News last year and also the launch of the highly successful Strathallan News, in South Perthshire.”
Little has been Wee County News editor for two years. He continued: ”Putting aside the personal disappointment, my thoughts are with the thousands of people who looked forward to receiving each of our titles every week. Communities have been at the heart of everything we have done at Forth Independent and I wish to thank every single one of them for their support over the years.”
Added Roy Beers, who edited Eastwood Today: “I’m very sorry Forth Independent Newspapers has hit terminal financial problems, and hope the firm’s reputation for excellent publications will help its talented young journalists, like Martin Little in Alloa, find good full-time jobs.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to work with Martin – who worked exclusively for the Alloa-based titles – apart from one hectic holiday week when he helped us out by working at the East Kilbride office, but did work closely with group editor, Willie Mack, for three years.
“During that time I was freelance editor of Eastwood Today, while veteran weeklies editor and dailies freelance, Archie Fleming, edited the Avondale Mail and subbed on the East Kilbride Mail.
“Lorna King, formerly of the Greenock Telegraph, was the third experienced freelance at East Kilbride, and was a highly capable sub-editor across the Eastwood, Avondale and East Kilbride Mail titles.
“Two young reporters, Alison Mann and Graeme Breen, wrote the EK Mail and helped with the other titles.
“These people, along with the superb production staff, were a first-class team who brought excellent news products to formerly moribund or under-served areas.
“We fully intend to work together again.”