Your Noon Briefing: Johnston Press (more), Al Jazeera’s Andrew McFadyen, etc

THE chief executive of Johnston Press – publisher of The Scotsman and several local newspaper titles in Scotland – yesterday said he believed there is less volatility in the regional advertising market than the national one.

Ashley Highfield was commenting, following the publication of his company’s half-year interim financial results – noted here, in yesterday’s edition of the Noon Briefing.

He said: “Trading conditions in the first half of 2015 have undoubtedly been challenging, with May and June being particularly difficult – a time when there was also a high degree of uncertainty in the wider market.

“However, we believe, local publishing, with SMEs representing 80 per cent of our advertising revenue, is not as volatile as national publishing.

“We have seen some improvement in reducing the decline in advertising revenues in July compared to July 2014. We will continue to drive for further improvement in revenues, albeit off a lower base, and will also continue to target further cost savings.”

Read more, here.

Today’s Scotsman begins its report (here) of the figures, thus: “Newspaper publisher, Johnston Press, which owns titles including The Scotsman, saw underlying pre-tax profits more than double in the first half of the year as it benefited from lower financing costs.

“The Edinburgh-based group also saw strong growth in digital audiences for its titles, up by over 20 per cent to an average monthly figure of 19.9 million.”

Meanwhile, The Herald’s report (here) starts: “Johnston Press has recorded a 4.6 per cent fall in first-half revenue amid difficult trading conditions but said it made good progress with efforts to reshape its publishing businesses for the future.

“Edinburgh-based Johnston Press had £128.9 million underlying revenue in the 26 weeks to July 4, down from £135.1m in the comparable period last year.”

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BEGINS “Veteran broadcaster, [Scot] James Naughtie has said he will ‘probably cry’ on his last day at the helm of the [BBC Radio 4] Today programme.

“He is being replaced by Nick Robinson, who recently took time off to recover from lung cancer.

“Asked about leaving the flagship BBC Radio 4 programme, Naughtie, 64, told the Radio Times magazine: ‘I’m the kind of emotional guy who cries at movies.'”

Read more, here.

And The Guardian reports (here) how an on-air gaffe by Naughtie – a spoonerism over the surname of the then Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt – earned a colleague a bottle of champagne.

The story goes that, as everyone else in the studio was struggling to maintain their composure, Naughtie’s colleague, the late Rory Morrison, somehow managed to coolly read a news bulletin.

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A SCOTTISH political reporter is being sought by the Dundee-based The Courier newspaper – as advertised here, on the media jobs board.

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GREAT read: a Scots programme editor at the international news channel, Al Jazeera, writes about the diversity within his newsroom and how he is “constantly encouraged to see the news agenda from different perspectives”.

Andrew McFadyen also reflects – on the website, – on the Scottish broadcasting scene.

Read him, here.

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IT is considered the biggest sit-down dinner in Scotland, with some 1,400 guests expected to attend.

And yesterday, the annual Press and Journal newspaper Energy Ball, announced celebrity chef, Nick Nairn, will be joining its “star-studded line-up”.

The event is taking place on October 3, is a celebration of the city’s oil and gas sector, and is being held at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.

Read more, here.

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