STV unveils its columnists shortlist

SCOTTISH broadcasters, STV, appear to have struck upon a rich seam of writing talent, as it goes in search of new columnists for its website.

There may have been some scepticism that, at £100 per column, STV was perhaps asking too much to be expecting writers of the quality of Iain Macwhirter, Joan Burnie, Bill Leckie, Richard Littlejohn and Jeremy Clarkson to be getting in touch.

But over 250 wannabes did and from it a shortlist of ten has been chosen, whether they get taken on or not depending on how many comments and how much internet traffic they generate.

For the next four weeks, the writers – among them, a teacher, a stand-up comic, a one-time fork-lift truck driver and a waiter, plus journalists – will be penning (and being paid for) two columns per week.

The broadcaster’s The Write Factor shortlist was chosen by Robert Dawson Scott, STV’s web editor in consultation with Howard Simpson, STV news editor; Helen Alexander, head of Digital Audiences and Alistair Brown, head of New Media.

Robert, who has himself written columns for The Herald, The List magazine and The Scotsman in the past, said: “The entries were incredibly varied and the standard at the top end was very high. We could have picked 20 other finalists without much difficulty.”

The winner will receive a six-month contract worth at least £5,000 to contribute to the site from the New Year.

The full list of finalists, with their own biographical notes, is as follows:

Ellen Arnison

Following years of tabloid journalism and a bit of PR, I now stay at home most of the time and write for people who pay me. Finally, the work-life balance is within reach. I am 42, have three sons, a husband and a home in Bridge of Weir.

David Coyle

After ten years in a tabloid newsroom, I know all about opinions…sadly three kids and a partner who is a psychologist have heard all mine. Now it’s your turn.

Teddy Craig

I’m a comedian and writer from Dunfermline. The nickname, ‘Teddy’, originates from schooldays and being chubby like a teddy bear. Looking back on it, I wish something slightly more butch had stuck. But perhaps you wouldn’t want to read the musings of ‘The Annihilator’.

Sara Firth

A classic ‘shout out loud at the TV type’, Sara likes to tell it straight… even when no-ones listening! Her main goal in life is to become a judge on a reality TV show or, failing that, to marry Simon Cowell.

Bruce Fummey

Bruce Fummey is a Perth-based teacher, stand-up comic, father of two and the man behind Just Laugh comedy clubs. No schools, audiences or mothers have confirmed these claims, but he has been seen at St Johnstone matches, where he will give an opinion on a number of issues.

Ed Hart

Ed Hart has worked as a washer-upper, sheet-metal worker, clerk, fork-lift truck driver, archaeologist, editor and copywriter but would happily do anything (reasonable) that’s asked of him – with the proviso that the remuneration is okay.

Mark Howarth

Former Scottish Sun and Sunday Express journalist, now a current affairs freelance based near Stirling. Aged 37, married with two young’uns, sustained by hard work, football and walking up hills (and down again). I dislike animals that are bigger than me and have no desire for world peace.

Laura Marks

I am a 23 year-old Scot who always has something to say! Starting a hectic career as an opera singer at the tender age of nine has led me down a crazy path of adventure. I was one fifth of El Presidente and have made the move into TV and radio presenting.

Lindsey Mason

I’m Lindsey Mason, a 48 year-old telly addict from Dumfries. I work in the public sector where I limp from Monday to the relative safety of each weekend in constant fear of being rumbled as an incompetent buffoon. Strangely, I’m also an amateur astronomer. Welcome to Lindseyland.