Sunday, May 13, 2018

Have the Sunday Herald built bridges after last week's misjudgements? (Spoiler: No, they've doubled down by going Full Leask with a disgraceful front page attack on Alex Salmond.)

You might remember a while back that CommonSpace took a brief financial hit after running an attack piece about Wings Over Scotland that had a particularly ill-judged and highly provocative headline.  Robin McAlpine very deftly rescued the situation a few days later with an article that didn't really acknowledge that CommonSpace was responsible for its own mistake, but that nevertheless struck a sufficiently conciliatory tone that by all accounts a lot of cancelled subscriptions were swiftly renewed.  The Sunday Herald has found itself in a very similar pickle in recent days after a number of missteps in last week's edition that disappointed many loyal readers, and infuriated others.

Most obviously, there was the front page photo from the pro-independence march in Glasgow that gave the completely distorted impression that those on the march waving saltires and the Union Jack-wielding counter-protestors were roughly equal in numbers.  (The reality was that there were tens of thousands of the former and only a couple of dozen of the latter.)  An obvious defence is that it was simply a very striking and thus publication-worthy image, but that doesn't really wash, because it was used to complement coverage in text that was similarly distorted, ie. that gave the impression that the only real significance of the march was that it had caused 'division' and brought about an 'ugly' stand-off.

Eyebrows were also raised at an apparent new editorial line that Nicola Sturgeon should 'prioritise' a UK-wide re-run of the EU referendum (one that might well see Scotland outvoted yet again) over a second independence referendum.  From a journalistic point of view there's nothing wrong with that new stance, but when you've built up a loyal readership on the specific basis that you are a pro-independence paper, you shouldn't really be surprised that those readers feel there has been a breach of trust if you start actively undermining the campaign for independence.  If a paper's collective views on self-determination and the constitution have 'evolved', that's fine, but probably the best thing to do is be up-front and honest about it, and allow readers to decide whether the time has come to look for a new 'home'.  Claiming earnestly to still be pro-independence while simultaneously pushing a blatantly indy-sceptic news agenda is only going to lead to confusion and resentment.

You might have thought that the Sunday Herald would have reflected on the damage done last week, and would be in full-on bridge-building mode this week.  That they would have followed the wise example of Robin McAlpine by making moves to reassure disgruntled readers that nothing had changed and that we're all still on the same side.  But not a bit of it.  Instead, they've doubled down with a front page that sends an unmistakeable message that a great deal has changed.  It contains what I can only describe as a despicable attack on Alex Salmond that in none-too-subtle fashion pursues the barking mad "the Russians are everywhere!" agenda of Mr David Leask from the paper's anti-independence daily sister publication.  Leask of course always strenuously denies that his weird obsession with smearing Salmond represents in any sense a grudge against the SNP or against the pro-independence movement, but to hold that line he's had to draw a wildly implausible distinction between a so-called "real" or "mainstream" SNP that has supposedly disowned Salmond (have you noticed anyone actually doing that?) and the "Trumpist" or "Putin stooge" interlopers led by Salmond himself.  As I've noted before, it's a bit of a stretch to ask people to accept that a politician who was leader of the SNP until only three-and-a-half years ago, who indeed has been leader of the SNP for roughly one-quarter of the party's entire existence, and who led the Yes campaign in the 2014 independence referendum, is somehow not "real" SNP.  In fact, the question might reasonably be asked: if Alex Salmond of all people is not "real" SNP, then who the hell is? We haven't heard a credible answer to that question from Leask or the Herald so far.  Perhaps the Sunday Herald can come up with one now that they appear to be foolishly going down the same path.

I know that defenders of the front page story will point out that the Sunday Herald can't be expected to let its pro-independence views get in the way of reporting the news.  But the snag is that the comments of Mr Litvinenko's widow about Alex Salmond are not a news story that has just spontaneously appeared out of thin air.  She presumably didn't ring up the Sunday Herald offices and say "I've just got to get this off my chest, guys".  They sought her out and solicited a view from her about a subject that she might well not have given much thought to otherwise.  It's a piece of "news" that has been artificially generated by the Sunday Herald completely from scratch.  They knew exactly what they were doing, and all I can say is this: if for whatever reason you're out to "get" Alex Salmond, you might as well own what you're doing, because people can see straight through you anyway.

We're told that the editor of the Sunday Herald has responded to the criticisms of last week's paper in a special article.  I can't find it online yet, but judging by David Leask's excitement it looks set to be quite a belligerent response of a "the problem is the readers, not the journalism" variety.  It's precisely that kind of attitude that is killing the traditional media.  Sooner or later journalists are going to have to comes to terms with the fact that the days of a passive audience that never answers back, and that doesn't have anywhere else to go, are long over.

41 comments:

  1. Cancelled my subscription months ago on the basis they were taking my money fraudulently.

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    Replies
    1. Ladies and Gentlemen please be upstanding for the queen of England.

      God save our gracious Queen
      Long live our noble Queen
      God save the Queen
      Send her victorious
      Happy and glorious
      Long to reign over us
      God save the Queen

      O Lord our God arise
      Scatter her enemies
      And make them fall
      Confound their politics
      Frustrate their knavish tricks
      On Thee our hopes we fix
      God save us all

      Thy choicest gifts in store
      On her be pleased to pour
      Long may she reign
      May she defend our laws
      And ever give us cause
      To sing with heart and voice
      God save the Queen

      Not in this land alone
      But be God's mercies known
      From shore to shore
      Lord make the nations see
      That men should brothers be
      And form one family
      The wide world over

      From every latent foe
      From the assassins blow
      God save the Queen
      O'er her thine arm extend
      For Britain's sake defend
      Our mother, prince, and friend
      God save the Queen

      Lord grant that Marshal Wade
      May by thy mighty aid
      Victory bring
      May he sedition hush
      And like a torrent rush
      Rebellious Scots to crush
      God save the King dies

      Delete
  2. The problem is Leask, who is now the picture dictionary definition of "swivel eyed rant"

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  3. Oh come on, this paper has been Unionist for a long time now. The headline is not a surprise, the only surprise is that Pro Indy supporters think that its not!

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    1. Rule Brittania

      When Britain fi-i-irst, at hea'en's command,
      Aro-o-o-ose from out the a-a-a-zure main,
      Arose, arose from ou-ou-ou-out the a-zure main,
      This was the charter, the charter of the land,
      And guardian a-a-angels sang this strain:
      Rule, Britannia!
      Britannia, rule the waves
      And Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
      Rule, Britannia!
      Britannia, rule the waves.
      And Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
      The nations, no-o-o-o-ot so blest as thee,
      Must i-i-i-i-in their turn, to ty-y—yrants fall,
      Must in their turn, to ty-y-rants fall,
      While thou shalt flourish, shalt flourish great and free,
      The dread and e-e-e-e-nvy of them all.
      Rule, Britannia!
      Britannia, rule the waves.
      Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
      Rule, Britannia!
      Britannia, rule the waves.
      Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
      And now commonly rendered in alternate form:

      When Britain fi-i-irst, at heaven's command,
      Aro-o-o-o-ose from out the a-a-a-zure main,
      Arose, arose from out the azure main,
      This was the charter, the charter of the land,
      And guardian a-a-angels sang this strain:
      Rule, Britannia!
      Britannia, rule the waves
      Britons never, never, never will be slaves.
      Rule, Britannia!
      Britannia, rule the waves.
      Britons never, never, never will be slaves.
      Still more maje-e-estic shalt thou rise,
      More dre-e-e-e-eadful from each foreign stroke,
      More dreadful, dreadful from each foreign stroke,
      Loud blast above us, loud blast that tears the skies
      Serves but to ro-o-o-ot thy native oak.
      Rule, Britannia!
      Britannia, rule the waves.
      Britons never, never, never will be slaves.
      Rule, Britannia!
      Britannia, rule the waves.
      Britons never, never, never will be slave
      When Britain first, at Heaven's command
      Arose from out the azure main;
      This was the charter of the land,
      And guardian angels sang this strain:
      "Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
      "Britons never will be slaves."
      2

      The nations, not so blest as thee,
      Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
      While thou shalt flourish great and free,
      The dread and envy of them all.
      "Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
      "Britons never will be slaves."
      3

      Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
      More dreadful, from each foreign stroke;
      As the loud blast that tears the skies,
      Serves but to root thy native oak.
      "Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
      "Britons never will be slaves."
      4

      Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame:
      All their attempts to bend thee down,
      Will but arouse thy generous flame;
      But work their woe, and thy renown.
      "Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
      "Britons never will be slaves."
      5

      To thee belongs the rural reign;
      Thy cities shall with commerce shine:
      All thine shall be the subject main,
      And every shore it circles thine.
      "Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
      "Britons never will be slaves."
      6

      The Muses, still with freedom found,
      Shall to thy happy coast repair;
      Blest Isle! With matchless beauty crown'd,
      And manly hearts to guard the fair.
      "Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
      "Britons never will be slaves

      Delete
  4. Kangaroo says
    James it's blatantly obvious now that the SH is a Unionist rag and has been masquerading as proindy. Last weeks front page coupled with this weeks pathetic anti Alex Salmond rant, which you have identified as having a high probability of being a deliberately sought out provocative piece clearly indicates that the SH should be consigned to the dustbin.

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    1. Lets celebrate England's green and pleasant land.

      And did those feet in ancient time
      Walk upon england's mountains green?
      And was the holy lamb of god
      On england's pleasant pastures seen?
      And did the countenance divine
      Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
      And was jerusalem builded here
      Among those dark satanic mills?

      Bring me my bow of burning gold!
      Bring me my arrows of desire!
      Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!
      Bring me my chariots of fire!
      I will not cease from metal fight;
      Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
      Till we have built jerusalem
      In england's green and pleasant land.

      Delete
  5. Wings tweeted an image of the article.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/WingsScotland/status/995566156856557568?p=v

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  6. If they had searched out the Skirpals... now that really would have been news.

    But after weeks of 'the Russians did it' the media have 'allowed' the Skirpal 'sacndal' to just disappear.

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    Replies
    1. It is suggested the State issued a D Notice forbidding the media from further reporting.

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  7. To alienate the very readers it needs to survive in today's declining newspaper readership is not very good marketing.

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  8. Well not so much a U turn but a full scale reverse at high speed by the Sunday Herald of its previously stated support for independence.
    The bung the BBC are pushing into the grubby hands of newspaper proprietors wouldn't have anything to do with their changed stance, this pretext of saving local journalism fools no one and is a blatant misuse of license fee money .

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  9. "...a belligerent response of a "the problem is the readers, not the journalism" variety." Exactly his retort that I read on twitter, however, he also added that it was undemocratic that the 'Cybernats' got to have their say on social media. (And of course that social media has to be overhauled!) He totally disregarded the fact that it was an AUOB event but demanded the SNP rein in those Cybernats who dare to undemocratically give their opinion about the front page of the SH! Apparently it is HIS job to give HIS OPINION about political happenings, but it is undemocratic when those on social media call him out on the bias of it. It seems only Leaske himself is allowed to determine what the nation thinks about independence & its supporters. And only he himself is allowed a view of the March, allowed to determine who organised it, who has overall responsibility in how it was conducted and thus who has overall responsibility for the response to the SH article. HOW DARE the SNP allow 'their' supporters to denigrate his article, stop their Direct Debits and end their relationship with the SH! HOW DARE WE! SNPBAD!!

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  10. Well said, James. Haven't bought the Sunday Herald for ages - no regrets. This Leaske chiel is in a massive huff that members of the public in Scotland doubt the veracity of so-called professional journalists. Arrogant Leaske and his ilk have only themselves to blame for the drop in public trust for the media in Scotland.

    Buy the National. Boycott all British nationalist media. Support pro-indy websites like scotgoespop.

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  11. His justification is that the march itself wasn't news, that had already been reported on the Saturday plenty. Instead they decided to focus on the nasty behaviour of the unionists. This counters the way other newspapers focus on the nasty behaviour of nationalists at times. Seems to make sense.

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    1. Sounds reasonable - until you read the article itself, because that is NOT how the article read. And the photo was just a disgrace. And for an 'independence supporting paper' (direct quote from today's editorial) not to report the march as lead article last Sunday and the support it showed for indy is just a joke - as is the Herald itself now. Today's SNPbaad story (Alex Salmond/RT) really is the icing on the cake.

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    2. It makes no sense at all. The march was on Saturday afternoon, so the Sunday newspapers were the first opportunity to report on it. And if you can discern in last week's front page any "focus" on the "nasty behaviour" of the counter-protestors, you're doing better than me. He seems to be retconning last week's paper.

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    3. I doubt that not all that many Unionists were concerned about the Nat si rally. A few did turn out for a laugh. More people probably turned out at Ibrox to watch a crap home fitba team.

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    4. Hark when the night is falling
      Hear! Hear the pipes are calling,
      Loudly and proudly calling,
      Down thro' the glen.
      There where the hills are sleeping,
      Now feel the blood a-leaping,
      High as the spirits of the old Highland men.

      Towering in gallant fame,
      Scotland my mountain hame,
      High may your proud standards gloriously wave,
      Land of my high endeavour,
      Land of the shining river,
      Land of my heart for ever,
      Scotland the brave.

      Delete
  12. It's just like old times.

    Remember how ian (I went on strike and destroyed the education of thousands of children in order to line my own pockets) "The Snarl" gray used to demand that Alex Salmond control the dread cybernats nearly every week as FMQs?

    The problem being that labour's online presence was entirely directed by the party as they have no real support from the public. See FI Fi La Dugdale as a prime example. So they seemed to think that was the same for every party.

    Given the advance in technology and awareness about Social Media nowadays that excuse doesn't wash and we are just in the land of smear, smear, smear.

    PS. Will a certain famous columnist perhaps mention a certain event from this morning in their next epistle? Have none of them ever read their Aesop? Frog>Scorpion>nature. It's a Universal truth.

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    1. When I wake up, well, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who wakes up next to you
      When I go out, yeah, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who goes along with you
      If I get drunk, well, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you
      And if I haver, hey, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who's havering to you

      But I would walk five hundred miles
      And I would walk five hundred more
      Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
      To fall down at your door

      When I'm working, yes, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who's working hard for you
      And when the money comes in for the work I do
      I'll pass almost every penny on to you
      When I come home (When I come home), oh, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who comes back home to you
      And if I grow old, well, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who's growing old with you

      But I would walk five hundred miles
      And I would walk five hundred more
      Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
      To fall down at your door

      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da

      When I'm lonely, well, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who's lonely without you
      And when I'm dreaming, well, I know I'm gonna dream
      I'm gonna dream about the time when I'm with you
      When I go out (When I go out), well, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who goes along with you
      And when I come home (When I come home), yes, I know I'm gonna be
      I'm gonna be the man who comes back home with you
      I'm gonna be the man who's coming home with you

      But I would walk five hundred miles
      And I would walk five hundred more
      Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
      To fall down at your door

      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da

      And I would walk five hundred miles
      And I would walk five hundred more
      Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
      To fall down at your door

      Delete
  13. Even Alex Salmond has cancelled his subscription to the Sunday Herald after this drivel from them,so these dopes have alienated the most significant SNP and independence leader of all time.

    Like others I saw through these Sunday Herald chancers many moons ago and cancelled my subscription. I have paid online by annual subscription for the National ever since it emerged- same stable I know, but a very different horse.

    The Sunday Herald came out for independence before the National came into existence and probably before it was ever thought of. In Scotland the Herald grouping therefore finds itself, probably unacceptably for them, with 2 independence supporting papers to 1 anti-independence. That will not be allowed to continue, one way or another.

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  14. Haven't bought a copy for two years or more...

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  15. It’s utterly impossible to read the Sunday Herald, or any other Sunday paper, without feeling your very soul curl up, whimpering.

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  16. SH Editor Neil Mackay has dug a huge hole for himself with his cack-handed attempt to explain the bizzare coverage of the Indy rally.
    He spins police estimates of turnout at 35,000 but fails to mention the original police figure of 91,000.
    I for one heard this directly from a police officer.
    His disclosure that the SH had indeed changed to accommodate Tory/Labour views after Indyref2014 to me shows the slippage from a strong pro-indy stance.
    Today's anti Salmond head story dressed up as an exposition of RT's supposed agenda.
    They've been got at. I'll decide next week if I'll buy it again.

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  17. No doubt there is some cat or dug psychological case study of what the Sunday Herald is up to. Employing Haggarty as News Editor I thought odd.Today's and last week's editions odd, for a declared pro-Indy newspaper. So, it seems to me the Sunday Herald has taken the Unionist shilling from the BBC initiative - to use licence payers funds - to message the Unionist propaganda.

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  18. @ GWC2, plodding along happily, love it.
    "Yes boss, me jest plodding' along happily.Red Tory or Blue Tory, boss, what' me to do boss?".

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    1. Give me a shoe shine boy.

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  19. About a year or so before the collapse of East Germany, the print and broadcast media went into hyper-loyal and mega-mental mode. That's how it feels here now.

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    1. I've been seeing those parallels for several years now Ian. I'm just waiting for the seemingly impregnable UK to collapse like a house of cards, as did the regimes across Central and Eastern Europe. One day it's the UK, the next it's the former UK. I hope we don't have long to wait now.

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    2. Fingers crossed! And it's getting more noticeable almost by the month.

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    3. My Stasi friend glad you are still around. Those prison holiday camps were far too good for them.

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  20. The only real asset the Sunday Herald have left is Iain McWhirter, and a reporter on foreign policy, whose name I cannot recall at the moment. The rest of the paper has become a rag over the space of a few years. Since Walker left as editor it has steadily declined, to the point that Mackay and company are now promoting the con of federalism. I mean they must think we are complete dolts for falling for that one, particularly so because of the events since the independence referendum.

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  21. They have burnt their bridges with me over a number of issues. Whether they are 'pro-independence' or not, truth and ethics beats politics in journalism. I regret Iain McWhirter who is a fine columnist, but just cannot buy or give it page reads any more.

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    1. That leaves you with the Morning Star and the Jock National vying for the truth!!

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    2. "...the snag is that the comments of Mr Litvinenko's widow about Alex Salmond are not a news story that has just spontaneously appeared out of thin air."

      I believe that the snag is slightly different, not that they pursued the topic with her but the topic has long since ceased to be news at all. She certainly has every right to her opinion, which a number of people share. It may have been news months ago. It certainly is not news, much less headline news, now. They were using it as an excuse to try to renew what is at this point nothing but a very tired smear (or criticism if you prefer).

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    3. Mr Litvinenko died at the hand of the Russian secret service in the UK and you show no sympathy to his widow. Kim Yung is perhaps a puppet glove of the former KGB but does not know it. The loss of the Nat si 2014 referendum must have been a shock to him. He will no doubt end up in the Lords and found dead in Hampstead Heath with an aubergine up his chorus.

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    4. Any clues GWC2 why the wonderfullest and bestest government in the world at Westminster hid the results of the Litvinenko inquiry "in the public interest" and of course why have they hidden the Skripals from view totally?

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    5. Hivnae a clue but you can make up a story as you go along like you Nat sis do.

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    6. O flower of Scotland
      When will we see your like again
      That fought and died for
      Your wee bit hill and glen
      And stood against him
      Proud Edward's army
      And sent him homeward
      Tae think again

      The hills are bare now
      And autumn leaves lie thick and still
      O'er land that is lost now
      Which those so dearly held
      And stood against him
      Proud Edward's army
      And sent him homeward
      Tae think again

      Those days are passed now
      And in the past they must remain
      But we can still rise now
      And be the nation again
      That stood against him
      Proud Edward's army
      And sent him homeward
      Tae think again

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  22. When papers use their own pages to talk about the problem with their readers you know that jaikets and shaky nails have just become acquainted.

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