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Mike's Media Monitor

By The Drum | Administrator

June 30, 2005 | 6 min read

It’s graduation time and the streets are awash with young people in white bow ties and flowing black gowns, off for a slap-up meal courtesy of their ever-proud parents. But when the champagne and good food wears off, what will be the reality for the few hundred, if not thousand, graduates now seeking jobs in what has to be Scotland’s most sought-after career destination of a generation: the media? Certainly, a good few hundred, but it could easily be the latter, given the numbers on Scottish ‘media’ courses.

A trawl through the further and higher education colleges reveals over 18,000 full-time or part-time students on such courses, including, by the categories identified by the further and higher education funding bodies themselves, marketing/public relations, text/graphics/multimedia presentation software, communication/media (general), communication skills, writing (authorship), journalism, photography, film/video production, audio and visual media, and print and publishing.

And of course, that begs the question: Where will everyone go? The law of supply and demand suggests that, for a kick-off, a further depression of prices.

Of course, quality will always out. The graduate that shows him or herself to be enthusiastic, conscientious and reliable will continue to be wanted by employers. That’s not to say that a lot of quality won’t be lost along the way, as people try and try again to secure that cherished posting and, in the end, give up through sheer exhaustion.

The great irony is that, as the supply swells, so Scotland is in the grip of some major job losses.

The plans at the BBC to axe almost 4,000 jobs across the UK, almost 200 of them editorial posts in Scotland, are well documented. An understanding between the trade unions – NUJ, BECTU and Amicus – appears to have been struck with the BBC; the chances of another strike have waned as the two sides have agreed that detailed negotiation is preferred to the swinging of an axe. But just because there might be a moratorium on compulsory redundancies, that’s not to say that job cuts won’t be taking place. Of course, they will be.

Then there are the recommendations from broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, that effectively spell an end to local, non-news broadcasting on Scottish TV and Grampian TV. Well, what other conclusion can one draw from the stations being told that all they need produce is four hours of non-news programming a week, to fall to three hours when all our TV sets are switched from analogue to digital in about three years’ time?

Is it only coincidence that, over the last few weeks, there have been various departures from the editorial floor at Scottish and Grampian, including that of political hack, David Torrance, who is about to work for Scotland’s only Tory MP, David Mundell – as a press and parliamentary aide – but not before having travelled the Trans-Siberian Express, between Moscow and Beijing, and then taken in the delights of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and US?

And then there’s the continuing rationalisation at the local newspaper end of the Trinity Mirror operation, the publishers of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail. At Scottish & Universal titles across the land, super-editor posts are being created: in other words, individual titles, such as the Rutherglen Reformer and Wishaw Press, will no longer have their own dedicated editor, but will share one, along with a couple of others.

The ebb and flow of advertising revenue may mean an expenses purge at Trinity Mirror titles is only temporary – as one editor sought to reassure this writer recently. But at the very least, it proves how tight operating margins are.

In the Op Ed column of www.allmediascotland.com, experienced freelance, Matt Vallance, writes of penning a column for his local paper for the princely sum of...er, nothing. It might be that he enjoys it, feels he is ‘giving something back’ to a newspaper he has obvious affection for, but it is a depressing sign of the times, nevertheless.

Then add to the mix the alleged libel case involving BBC Match of the Day presenter and Sunday Telegraph columnist, Gary Lineker. The former England international was accused of defaming Liverpool player, Harry Kewell. The case ended in stalemate, after the jury failed to reach a verdict. But wasn’t it interesting to note that Lineker was being paid over £100,000 for his Telegraph column and it wasn’t even him who wrote it, but a ghost writer?

What might we conclude from that? Reasonably, perhaps, that newspapers, in trying to juggle tight margins with the need to differentiate themselves from the pack, could do worse than pay top dollar for celebrity copy and fill the rest of their pages with agency copy that comes in cheap, by virtue of the fact that it is shared.

Last Friday saw the new chief executive of the national film agency, Scottish Screen, brief the media and others at the New Club, in Edinburgh. If nothing else, it was a rare opportunity to visit the prestigious New Club, in the heart of Princes Street – and very nice it was too.

It was all part of Ken Hay’s meet-the-people roadshow. As he says himself, one of the perceptions of Scottish Screen is that, at best, it’s a central belt organisation; at worst, a Glasgow one.

So, he was in Brechin this week.

What was particularly significant about his Edinburgh briefing was that it came within 24 hours of the publication of a report by the Cultural Commission recommending Scottish Screen be subsumed into a wider cultural body.

Hay seemed relaxed at the prospect, welcomed the broad ambitions of the report and, anyway, he’s in analysis mode: in other words, everything Scottish Screen is doing is being heavily scrutinised.

Expect the results of his review in autumn.

Finally, just to leave you with this image. Last week, I had the enormous pleasure of doing the newspaper review at 7.50am on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland. There’s not much weirder than, one minute, broadcasting live on national radio, and, the next minute, being on the pavement, outside the Beeb’s Edinburgh studios, having just finished.

It’s a short journey from arriving at the studios, bleary-eyed at 6.30am, to then being charged full of adrenaline, and then to be back on the street. Funny old world, broadcasting.

Mike Wilson is a director at the media website, www.allmediascotland.com

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