MONDAY saw the launch of The National, a new daily newspaper that promises to fly the flag for Scottish independence. It joins Shetland News and the Sunday Herald as Scotland’s only news outlets to be supportive of the Yes campaign. Jordan Ogg reviews the first edition.
Sometimes I can forgive metropolitan media types when they forget that Shetland exists.
The isles are awfully far away, after all, and there’s not much going on – apart from being home to one of Europe’s largest oil terminals, one of the UK’s most important fishing fleets, and one of Scotland’s largest construction sites, the Total gas plant.
But when a Scottish newspaper reproduces a map of its home nation on its front page and forgets to include Shetland, I despair. This is what happened today in the first edition of The National.
Above the offending map is the declaration: ‘a new newspaper for a new Scotland’. The problem is that this idea of a new Scotland is as limited geographically as it is politically.
There was not one story from beyond the central belt on any of its 32 pages – this on a day when 100 new jobs in Oban were announced, and the future of the community-owned Island of Gigha was called into doubt due to debts of £2.7m.
Those stories, from the Press & Journal and the Scotsman respectively, illustrate the main purpose of a newspaper: to report the news. The National, on the other hand, is acting as a vehicle to promote a political idea. News of a kind is featured, but it is extremely limited
There is nothing surprising in the content – a mix of stories that are positive about independence. What shocks is the myopia, the complete lack of attention given to any aspect of Yes-supporting Scotland external to Glasgow and its surrounding areas
This is a galling omission, for one of the most compelling aspects, and continuing legacies, of the Yes campaign was the emergence, across Scotland, of hundreds of localised campaigning groups.
In Shetland alone there was a local Yes group, a local Women for Independence group and a local branch of the National Collective arts movement.
Aberdeen, Dundee, Stornoway, Inverness, Nairn, Kirkwall, Lerwick – each of these places have their own version of this story to tell. The National, however, does not seem to be interested.
Hopefully this is just a teething issue. It is likely that the new newspaper is running on extremely limited resources and will struggle to find its feet.
But if The National is to succeed – and I hope it does – it will have to be properly representative of Scotland’s wide and varied Yes-supporting landscape.