There’s a new newspaper on the block – The National. A daily, 50p, with the tagline ‘The Newspaper that supports an independent Scotland.’ It is the sister paper of the Sunday Herald who decided to take the risk of trial launching a new publication after their dazzling success this year (around the Referendum sales were up 111% on last year – impressive when most newspapers are hemorrhaging in terminal decline). It is, they argue, an exercise in both balance and good business. Since endorsing independence (the sole newspaper that did) the Sunday Herald has been doing very well indeed.
There was a growing sense during the final weeks of the referendum campaign of the ranks closing in and established interests establishing their interests in cohort. It makes democratic and economic sense to reach out to the many of us who have felt neglected, sidelined and patronised by the majority of mainstream media. Despite animosity from big business, central government and the press a huge number of Scots turned out to vote Yes and many who voted No voted so despite of not because of the intimidation they received. The best I can say for Better Together is that they didn’t lose the referendum, they hardly won it.
So what of The National? I have been a weekly reader of the Sunday Herald for several months now and as expected there is a lot of similarity in The National albeit brisker, brasher and briefer. The lady in the Spar today said, “It’s gie thin for a 50p paper.” It is gie thin, but not gie thin on content. With life running on apace I am still catching up with the editions released so far in this trial week. Us imaginative civic minded Scots are not short of reading material, as the proliferation of blogs (like this one, please share soz lol) can attest. What we are short of is a disciplined, rigorous champion who will wade into the arena of the news stand bearing our colours.
The first editorial made clear it was not going to just be a mouth piece for the SNP, and as someone who has been reading the Sunday Herald I am confident this is the case. The National is an interesting, sharp and energetic outlet kinda like ‘the i‘ edited by Bella Caledonia. It is a newspaper responding to a need not trying to create one. I look forward to seeing how it does.
Getting a hold of copies has been difficult. Partly due to its popularity (many places selling out before midday) and partly due to big retailers being unsure what to do with it, or even to sell it. A former lecturer of mine John who wrote for this blog back in September reports that when he bought his from a supermarket chain – the bar code wouldn’t work and so they scanned it through as The Express since it is also 50p! How suspicious! Foul play? A very Scottish Coup.
Which leads me to The Divine Comedy song The National Express.
To paraphrase Neil Hannon
“When you’re sad and feeling blue
With nothing better to do
Don’t just sit there feeling stressed
Nip to the shop for The National I suggest, the National I suggest, let’s go
ba ba bada ba ba bada”