That Was the Year That Was: Angela Haggerty, editor, CommonSpace

GOOD year, bad year? With 2014 drawing to a close, we ask Angela Haggery, editor of the soon-to-launch CommonSpace: ‘How has it been for you?’.

Briefly, what is it that you do?

I’m the editor of CommonSpace, which is a new digital news and social networking service for Scotland, launching soon. CommonSpace is funded by the Common Weal, and the plan is to provide an online space where politically-engaged people can read news and views, interact with one another, and organise the various political groups they’re involved in.

Choose three words that sum up 2014 (so far), from a professional point of view.

Invigorating. Challenging. Busy.

In 2013, what was your biggest ambition for 2014, and to what extent did you achieve it?

I didn’t have one – I don’t have grand ambitions for my career, I go with the flow and keep myself open to new directions. My only rules are to try and make sure I’m in a role that I enjoy, that challenges me and that makes a worthwhile contribution.

How has 2014 (so far) been for you, personally?

2014 has been a great year. It started off in Glasgow, and then I moved to London in May for what would turn out to be quite a short move! Before CommonSpace, I was a staff journalist at The Drum magazine, covering the media and broadcast sector, and, in a period of expansion for them, I agreed to go to London. The job was fantastic there and I learned a huge amount.

However, ahead of the indyref, I pitched an idea for making a documentary about the Scottish media, and when we went to Glasgow for the week before the vote to film it I realised how much I missed the city and how exciting the changing media landscape in Scotland was. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that and decided if a job came up that I would return. Luckily for me, the position at CommonSpace came up pretty quickly and suddenly, after only six months, I was arranging couriers to take my things back to Glasgow.

It’s been a whirlwind year!

Any changes this year in technology, legislation, the economy, etc that have had a relatively significant impact on the business?

Technology is changing the industry constantly, and legislation is mostly trying to catch up. Things like the ‘right to be forgotten’, privacy and the issues around ‘net neutrality’ are interesting to observe – the precedents that are being set today could have a significant impact on the media structures of the future.

For journalism, monetising the business digitally and finding a model that really works is still a challenge. The constantly-evolving technology everybody has access to makes that even harder, and the industry needs to be ready all the time to adapt to the next change. It’s interesting to watch that evolve.

‘Native advertising’ was a buzz-term throughout 2014 for many publishers seeking to maximise ad revenue online, but the ethical questions around the practice remain, about basic integrity. There are still more questions than answers about what the journalism industry will look like in the future.

Another obvious one to watch this year was Press regulation. Despite the government’s Royal Charter legislation, there is a real stalemate and it shows no signs of changing. The Leveson Inquiry was high-profile, and the public anger at Press intrusion undeniable, but it remains to be seen whether it will have a significant impact on the future regulation of the industry, or whether the government will gradually and quietly allow the new IPSO Press regulator to pick up where the PCC left off, without Royal Charter recognition.

The debate has also been very London-centric; it would be good to have a bigger conversation about this in Scotland.

What looking forward to, in 2015 – personally and professionally?

Next year, I’m looking forward to getting CommonSpace fully up and running (we’ll be at full service from next month) and covering the General Election will be exciting. There is so much happening within the Scottish media – the launch of The National, for example, and the strengthening New Media scene – that will really shake things up next year.

The more competition between brands, traditional and new alike, will hopefully create more jobs in Scotland’s journalism industry and improve the quality of the media.