TODAY, The Scotsman unveils a panel of advisers who will help our journalists receive feedback from many sections of Scottish society.
The 16 people on the panel have agreed to give their views on The Scotsman's content and that of its highly successful website, scotsman.com. as part of a continuing project by the newspaper to strengthen the connection with its readers. No panel can be ever entirely representative, but those on it come from many of the sections of society that are at the heart of The Scotsman 's reporting. The latest development is part of the newspaper's continuing quest to involve readers in a dialogue on the future direction of its coverage. Already, more than 500 people are being consulted on a range of issues via an online reader panel. And Scotland 300: The Nationhood Debate series is taking reporters out on the road to meet residents in their own neighbourhoods and seek their views on a range of issues.
Mike Gilson, the Editor of The Scotsman, said: "I am delighted these distinguished people, all leaders in their fields, have agreed to take time out to give us their views. Any media organisation today that doesn't reach out to its audience and respond to what it has to say is a dying organisation. There is no sign of weakness in listening; rather it is a sign of the strength of the bond between the two.
"The people on the panel seek no special favour in the coverage we give to their fields of expertise; rather they are committed to helping us develop a newspaper that really speaks for Scotland."
The views of the newspaper's readers and its online community (three million unique users and 56,000 story-comments a month) are now fed into The Scotsman's daily conferences, where the main issues to be covered on the day are decided.
In addition to the advisory panel, The Scotsman also announces today it is to place its readers' complaints procedures on a more transparent basis.
Ian Stewart, the Deputy Editor, has been appointed Readers' Ombudsman and will investigate all issues raised and also give readers an insight into the decision-making process at the newspaper in a weekly column on Mondays.
PROF C DUNCAN RICE
PRINCIPAL AND VICE-CHANCELLOR, ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY
Professor Rice has been principal and vice-chancellor of Aberdeen University since September 1996. Before that, he spent five years as vice-chancellor at New York University.
He taught at Aberdeen before crossing the Atlantic in 1970 to work at Yale, Hamilton College and NYU.
Prof Rice is the recipient of many academic awards and honours and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SCOTTISH ENTERPRISE
Jack Perry is one of Scotland's best-known business leaders. The former chairman of CBI Scotland is a vociferous advocate of improvements to the Scottish skills base, better transport links and fighting red tape. He devised and pushed through the metropolitan city regions strategy for Scottish Enterprise. He is chairman of the board of directors of Craigholme School, Pollok, and a member of the Advisory Board of Technology Ventures Scotland.
The mother of tennis stars Andy and Jamie Murray, Judy Murray has a lifetime's experience in the sport as a player and coach.
As a player she won 64 Scottish titles and represented Great Britain at the World Student Games.
She is a former Scottish national tennis coach, serving between 1995 and 2004 and helped to produce three players in the world junior top 25 during 2003 - Jamie Baker, David Brewer and her son Andy, now one of the world's top 20 players. She was awarded LTA Coach of the Year in 2003.
ARTS CRITIC & COMMENTATOR
Joyce McMillan is theatre critic of The Scotsman and writes a regular column for the paper. She also broadcasts regularly, mainly on Radio Scotland and Radio 4. She has been involved in campaigns for democracy and human rights, and in 1998-9 was part of the Consultative Steering Group on the new Scottish Parliament. She chairs the Hansard Society Working Group in Scotland and is a visiting professor in the school of drama and creative industries at Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University.
ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH
Alexander McCall Smith CBE is one of the world's favourite writers - and with three series of novels currently on the go - one of its most productive.
His No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series set in Botswana has sold 16 million copies in English language editions alone and is translated into a further 35 languages.
Professor Emeritus of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, he has been awarded three honorary doctorates, and his books have won numerous awards.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SCOTTISH FINANCIAL ENTERPRISE
Amanda Harvie is chief executive of the lobby group that speaks for the fastest-growing area of Scotland's economy. Its member companies encompass all sectors of the industry. In total, SFE members account for more than 70 per cent of the 113,000 people directly employed within Scotland's financial services industry. She is a former regional manager of the Prince's Youth Trust and chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.
SIR ANGUS GROSSART
MERCHANT BANKER, LAWYER & ACCOUNTANT
Sir Angus is the elder statesman of Scotland's business and financial sector; his network of contacts is unsurpassed. The chairman of merchant bank Noble Grossart, he has served on the boards of Royal Bank of Scotland, Scottish & Newcastle, Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail, Trinity Mirror and Scottish Investment Trust. He has also been chairman of the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland and deputy chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
DIRECTOR, GLASGOW: EDINBURGH COLLABORATION
Recently appointed as the first director of the Glasgow: Edinburgh Collaboration Project, Laura Gordon has the challenging role of enhancing ties between the two cities to enable both to compete more effectively. As head of the technology and media team at a Glasgow commercial law firm, she was a committee member with the Law Society of Scotland, and taught company and commercial law at the Glasgow Graduate School of Law.
WRITER & COMMENTATOR
Fred Forrester was a secondary school English teacher for five and a half years before, in 1967, becoming an assistant secretary of the EIS, Scotland's main teaching union. He worked his way up, and became deputy general secretary in 1990; he retired ten years later. He was twice an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for Labour - in 1964, when he was defeated in the safe Tory seat of Perth and East Perthshire, and in 1966, when he lost to Teddy Taylor in Glasgow Cathcart. He now writes on education matters.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, NATIONAL THEATRE OF SCOTLAND
Vicky Featherstone studied drama at Manchester University before a two-year stint at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. With London-based Paine's Plough she won 12 theatre awards, including some for plays her company brought to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2004, she was named artistic director and executive director of the newly formed National Theatre of Scotland, for which she has co-directed The Wolves in the Walls and directed Mary Stuart.
SIR TOM FARMER
Edinburgh-born Sir Tom Farmer is one of Scotland's best-known entrepreneurs and philanthropists. He founded and built up Kwik-Fit tyre and exhaust centres into a 1 billion business which he sold to Ford Motors. Sir Tom chaired the Scotland Against Drugs campaign. He is a trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme. He was named Scottish Businessman of the Year (1989), awarded a CBE in 1990 and knighted in 1997. Sir Tom is chairman and principal shareholder of Hibernian Football Club.
Andrew Fairlie was last year named AA Chef's Chef of the Year. His restaurant at the Gleneagles Hotel is Scotland's only establishment with two Michelin stars. During the G8 summit he cooked for world leaders including George Bush, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac.
He was brought up on a Perth council estate, one of five children, and got his first job polishing glasses at the Station Hotel in Perth, aged 14. He went on to work in London and Paris before returning to Scotland.
PRODUCER, GRID IRON THEATRE COMPANY
Judith Doherty is the producer and chief executive of Grid Iron and an artistic co-director.
Since 1995 the company has amassed 21 awards and a further 18 nominations for the site-specific and touring work it creates nationally and internationally. Since 2000, Ms Doherty has been a member of the board of directors of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and, since 2004, the board of the Independent Theatre Council. She is currently a specialist adviser for the Scottish Arts Council.
PROF TOM DEVINE
HISTORIAN & AUTHOR, CHAIR OF SCOTTISH HISTORY AT EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY
Born in Motherwell in 1945, he graduated from Strathclyde University in 1968 with first-class honours in economic and social history. He rose through the academic ranks and was appointed to the Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Palaeography at Edinburgh in 2005; he was made an OBE in the same year. He is the author or editor of some 30 books. His last major work, Scotland's Empire (2003), formed the basis of a BBC Two series.
DIRECTOR, FRUITMARKET GALLERY
Fiona Bradley studied art history at King's College Cambridge and at the Courtauld Institute in London, where her PhD thesis tackled the subject of Catholic blasphemy in Surrealist art. Her gallery career began at the Tate Gallery London, where she worked in the education department, and she went on to work as a curator at the Tate Gallery Liverpool and the Hayward Gallery in London. In 2003, she moved to Scotland to take up her current position as Director of The Fruitmarket Gallery. Since arriving, she has overseen a refurbishment and re-branding of the Gallery, and her programme has included surveys of the work of major Scottish artists, including Callum Innes, Christine Borland and Nathan Coley, in addition to a host of names from overseas.
A former arts journalist on The List and The Scotsman, Susanna Beaumont opened her contemporary art gallery, Doggerfisher, in May 2001. The Edinburgh gallery has since established a national and international reputation for its ambitious shows. Beaumont exhibits, promotes and works closely with some of the most innovative new-generation and established artists from Scotland and beyond, including Charles Avery, Claire Barclay, Graham Fagen and Louise Hopkins.
Deputy Editor Ian Stewart first joined The Scotsman in 1991 and has held a number of senior editorial positions under seven editors (always a bridesmaid...).
He is a former editor of the Edinburgh Evening News and has also held senior executive positions with Scotland on Sunday and the Scottish Daily Mail in a newspaper career that has spanned more than 20 years.
Ian can be contacted:
By e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
By phone: 0131-620 8633
By mail at:
108 Holyrood Road