CAB - 7 Oct 2020 - 10 Oct 2020 - Advice

Arts / New Shetlander magazine in ‘grim’ financial situation

THE FINANCIAL situation facing the New Shetlander magazine has been described as “grim” as discussions continue over its future.

The cost of printing and administering the publication, which is the oldest literary and community magazine in Scotland, is met by Voluntary Action Shetland’s reserves.

However, this is said to be unsustainable going forward.

The magazine, which was first published in 1947, features opinion, prose and poetry about Shetland and it has also proved to be a valuable outlet for material written in the local dialect.

For a spell in the 1960s and 1970s it was possible for the magazine to sell thousands of copies, but in more recent years it has faced competition from other publications and the internet.

The 292nd edition of the New Shetlander has just been published, and the next issue will come out in November.

During the next five months the publisher and editor will be discussing, internally and publicly, the magazine’s future.

Despite the fact that since 1956 it has been edited by editors and a committee who have received no remuneration, Voluntary Action Shetland said it is finding it increasingly difficult to get the magazine published.

Joint editors Laureen Johnson and Brian Smith said: “The New Shetlander has a long and honourable history of reflecting and leading discussion about life in Shetland.

“The magazine has published the very best of literary material from the islands for more than seventy years.

“It would be tragic if a publication with such a long history were to founder now.

“Shetland needs the New Shetlander, and the publisher and committee will do its best to make sure it continues. We shall involve the Shetland community in discussions about its future.”

The New Shetlander has published the work of notable local poets T.A. Robertson, Stella Sutherland and W.J. Tait among others, while it was also the first publication to feature work by Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown.

Shetland Life magazine, meanwhile, came to an end in early January after nearly 40 years in print.

Publisher Shetland Times Ltd said the magazine was no longer viable amid a struggle to increase sales and decreasing revenue from advertising.