Former editor of The Scotsman and The Times Scotland, Magnus Linklater, has praised Scotsman editor John McLellan’s reign as editor of the paper, days after he was axed by Johnston Press.
Last week, McLellan was placed on leave as editor-in-chief of The Scotsman, The Edinburgh Evening Times and Scotland on Sunday, making him the tenth editor to depart the newspaper in 17 years.
“I feel very sad about John going. I thought that he’d stabilised The Scotsman after a long period of many editors and different changes of direction, it not quite knowing what it was trying to do, John got it back to being a good, fairly solid, newspaper, which is what The Scotsman always was and always should be. It was a great sadness to see him step down,” said Linklater, editor of The Scotsman until 1994, told The Drum.
Linklater continued to say that he had “mixed feelings” on the leadership of publisher Johnston Press’s chief executive, Ashley Highfield.
“On the one hand, it’s inevitable that regional, local and national newspapers have got to discover their digital future, they’ve got to make that transition, as The Times is doing, painfully toward an online version. That is the future of newspapers. One can also see that that is the right direction to go and getting somebody who is from that world, that is the direction to take. My misgivings are that he is not coming from a newspaper background. Rupert Murdoch, who is pushing his newspapers towards a new, online future, is doing so from a perspective of someone who totally understands newspapers and understands the business of journalism. You may not approve or like all of his journalism, but there is no question that he is totally committed to it. I wonder whether a guy from Microsoft, who is equally conversant with online information has the sensitivity as far as newspapers are concerned to ensure that the basic product thrives. My view is that both the provision of information, the training of journalists, the whole ethos of journalism, has to survive alongside its online delivery.”
He concluded; “Of course, newspapers such as The Scotsman need to reinvent themselves, but they need to do so from a position of knowledge of the market, understanding of the market and of what newspapers are all about.”