Revenue and Writers High on Agenda of Caledonian Mercury

The next few months will be crucial in determining the long-term fate of Scotland’s first online ‘newspaper’, the site’s editor has said.

In an interview for Scottish media podcast, Quiet News Day, Stewart Kirkpatrick, publisher of the Caledonian Mercury, underlined the need to boost both revenue and writers in the months ahead.

Launched earlier this year, the 'Cal Merc' has already gleaned the Regional Multimedia Publisher of the Year award for Kirkpatrick at last month’s Regional Press Awards.

Resting on his laurels is not an option, however, as the former editor remains firmly focused on turning the Scottish news website from “a great idea into a solid business”.

Speaking to journalist Shaun Milne, Kirkpatrick said: “We’re not out the woods yet. We’re turning from being a great idea into a solid business, but we need more advertising revenue and we need to grow.

“I want more sections and more writers, and I want to be able to pay my writers more.

“The next six months will be a period of ramping up our commercial activity because… we’ve now got a really strong story to sell to advertisers – that’s the number one priority – and to increase the number of stories you see on the site.

“We already carry a bit of video, we’d like to expand that, but our main priorities are more revenue and more writers.”

The site has “now got an audience and has traction within the industry”, Kirkpatrick added, making the project a “much, much easier sell to advertisers”.

And social media is key to the site’s success, he told Milne, opening the door to a huge untapped market of social networking surfers.

He said: “What we’re trying to do is use social media to find those audiences.

“That’s what’s a bit different about our approach, which is a bit more imaginative than, 'Hey we’ve got a Facebook page'.

“We just got into a partnership with the largest Scottish group on Facebook. They have 94,000 fans and now we’re able to put selected stories that are relevant to that audience in front of them and we’re already seeing an impact on the traffic.”