Big Issue Confronts Website Dilemma with Relaunch

The Big Issue in Scotland magazine is tomorrow relaunching its website, following a long, hard look at whether a title that has to be sold on the street (to earn its homeless vendors cash) should have a web presence at all.

www.bigissuescotland.com has these last few days been ‘soft launched’ ahead of a marketing push tomorrow to further establish the magazine brand, this time on the internet.

Until now, the magazine’s web presence has been little more than a static, holding page.

Says editor, Paul McNamee: “The ongoing debate has been how to make the web work for a magazine that absolutely has to exist on the street or it doesn’t have a reason to exist. Will it cannabalise readers, will it cost sales, etc? These questions that other publishers have been wrestling with for some time are finally being faced down by The Big Issue. It marks a progressive leap forward. It’s essential for the long-term future of the title and everyone who sells it that we get this right.”

Comment: This is possibly one of the more interesting stories to come up following Stewart Kirkpatrick’s article (here) on the future of the Scottish quality press, and perhaps underpins the whole dichotomy of the web, in terms of both its outreach and readership.

All media professionals know about the magazine and how it has what can be described as an excellent overall content, albeit on a shoestring budget, but as a nursery for young journalists it probably has few equals in the UK. Indeed, for ‘saying what it says on the label’ it has no equal in UK magazine social publishing.

That being said, the purchase of a Big Issue is akin to that of putting