SNP and the newspapers

THE first lesson of journalism is that hacks don’t matter as much as they like to think. The second lesson is that if hacks don’t think they matter, they might as well go home.

I’m caught between these rules.

Two weeks ago, we ran an op-ed berating the printed news media for choosing to peddle any old anti-nationalist copy, no matter the evidence of popular support for the SNP.

Why, I asked, would papers with declining readerships choose to alienate so many potential customers? It was one of the most read articles ever on the site, and continues to attract comment.

One interested party was MediaGuardian, who asked if they could run a version of the piece, rewritten for the UK market.

The article was delivered to the Guardian, but held over for one week as the media supplement was covering the awful events of the mass shooting in America. It ran yesterday.

In the course of that time, something astonishing happened in the editorial conferences of Scotland’s Sunday papers.

With four days to go to the vote, The Sunday Times Scotland, Scotland on Sunday and the Sunday Herald all offered support to the SNP, saying they deserved a vote at the coming election.

For the first time ever, broadsheet papers have endorsed the SNP.

This is not only stunning in the context of recent political history, it’s gob-smacking in the context of the last few weeks.

Alex Bell is a founding directory of