That Was the Year That Was: Steven Vass, Scotland editor, The Conversation

GOOD year, bad year? With 2014 drawing to a close, we ask Steven Vass, Scotland editor with The Conversation: ‘How had it been for you?’.

Briefly, what is it that you do?

Look after the Scottish coverage for The Conversation.

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

Intense. Exhilarating. Revelatory.

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

To keep making trouble at the Sunday Herald and have a healthy baby in the summer.

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

The Sunday Herald plan was upended when I left to join The Conversation in February, unable to resist the call of the ‘digital wild’ and the chance to cover the referendum in glorious detail. The change has been enlightening and very instructive, surpassed only by the arrival of baby, Heidi, like a happy hurricane six weeks before the vote.

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

The Independent recently claimed 2014 had been the ‘year of the selfie’, which is hardly up there with the ‘year of the iPod’ or the ‘year of the smart phone’. But we’re certainly at the point now where it’s very hard to be a journalist without a strong social-media dimension. Newish sites like Quartz demonstrate that running order on a news website is now far less important for driving traffic than what happens on Twitter, et al.

Yet the main change in the Scottish media was oddly old-fashioned: the Sunday Herald attracted a big permanent boost to sales thanks to its Yes support, and for the same reason its owner, Newsquest, looks to have achieved the first successful Scottish newspaper launch this century with The National.

Few would have foreseen that a year ago, nor the ferocity with which most of the rest of the media and the government collaborated to scare the Bejaysus out of the Scots in the run-up to September 18.

Whichever side you supported, it was a sight to behold.

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

Jim versus Nicola, the General Election, interest rates not going up yet again, more nonsense about the recovery, and continuing to help The Conversation flourish as an original and essential outlet for comment and analysis.

On the personal front, looking forward to seeing Heidi on two legs and approaching my coming significant birthday as swashbucklingly as possible!