Scotland's new daily newspaper The National hit newsstands for the first time this morning – just three weeks after publisher the Herald and Times group gave the pro-independence title the go-ahead.
Last night The Drum joined editor Richard Walker on the editorial floor as he sent the first edition of The National to print. The overwhelming impression was of a launch that has come together remarkably quickly in response to an uncharacteristic display of agility from a newspaper publisher.
"The first deadline was challenging," Walker told us in the moments afterwards. "The newspaper run-in period has been quite short. From when it was first decided to do it, to actually doing it, has been maybe three weeks.
"Clearly we had a lot of work to do in those three weeks. I think that was probably one of the hardest parts about it. But we did OK I think. We had a few technical problems that you can normally expect just when you least want things to go wrong."
As editor of the Sunday Herald, Walker led the broadsheet to a massive circulation rise after becoming the only newspaper to support the yes campaign in Scotland's independence referendum, including an immediate 111 per cent year-on-year circulation boost for its declaration issue.
It is this success, and the continued momentum of the independence movement since the vote, that has convinced Newsquest-owned Herald and Times that there could be an appetite for a new daily newspaper.
But whether or not The National becomes a permanent fixture will hinge on the success of a five-day trial this week, and Walker was coy about how many copies it needs to sell to guarantee its future. "If there’s a target I’m not aware of it," he said.
He was more candid, however, around the editorial expectations for the first edition: "I feel a weight of expectation and I’m clearly worried that no newspaper could live up to that. I don’t think the newspaper we’re producing tomorrow is the perfect newspaper. It’s a very good start – it’s a seed that I think will grow into something very special."
You can watch The Drum's full interview with Richard Walker in the video above.