Newspapers still play vital role in Scottish life

WHAT does the future of the newspaper industry in Scotland look like? This is something Edinburgh City Council’s culture & sport committee will be debating at the City Chambers this morning, alongside a mix of academics and journalists, including Edinburgh Napier University’s journalism lecturer Allan Boughey and the editor of this newspaper, Ian Stewart.

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

The state and health of print media is an ongoing debate due to the ever-adaptive nature of online news access and the huge changes taking place across the UK’s newspaper and magazine industry. While the option to access news online and by mobile phone is an important digital news revolution, it is equally important that access to printed information is maintained and not compromised for those audiences – particularly elderly generations – who may be daunted by, or cannot access, the web. But regardless of whether articles are read on a screen or on paper, it is the Scottish public’s need for trusted, impartial information and critique that is at the heart of this debate.

Against such a changing backdrop, what I’m interested in is the role of the media – and local reporting in particular – in cultural and artistic coverage of the museums and music, galleries and theatres and many “one- off” community events.

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Whatever shape the Scottish media takes in years to come, it is close to my heart that local papers still find room for the exceptional expert opinion and comments they are known for when reporting the arts. It is my belief that our local press is not only a resource keeping abreast of what is happening in our own communities but it is a massive part of Scotland’s unique cultural identity. When it comes to national interests, the arts and local reporting are twinned.

In Edinburgh, we have a programme of events and performances of which we can be proud. Some argue that local print media is necessary for a thriving arts scene and take-up of sports events, and it is because of this that we host such a debate today. What we do know is that our newspapers play a huge role in our daily lives as readers, and this is a debate that needs to remain at the forefront of Edinburgh’s interests.

• Richard Lewis is culture & sport convener at the City of Edinburgh Council