A columnist on the Edinburgh Evening News has called for the Scottish Government to drop plans to allow local authorities switch their public notices from newspapers to the internet – which, although offering cash-strapped councils a chance to save money, would potentially sound the death knell for a number of, mostly, local newspaper titles.
Martin Hannan, writing in yesterday's paper, and again declaring his allegiance to the SNP, says it is a proposal that cannot be allowed to stand. “The [SNP] Scottish Government's plan for public notices is a serious threat not just to our journalism but to Scottish society as a whole,” he writes, having earlier opined: “I would go as far as to say that without a free and inquisitive press, no country could call itself a democracy.”
In considering whether journalism is a craft or a profession, he comes down on the side of the former, saying: “We may not be a profession, but most of us are professionals,” at which point he cites some illustrious colleagues – past and present – as evidence of newspaper's key role in protecting democracy.
He continues: “Yes, some of this trade's practitioners often let the side down, and of course we all know the internet is the future, but newspaper journalism remains hugely important for society and especially for democracy.”
And his roll call comprises David Cameron, Anne Dalrymple, Bill Heaney, Roy Templeton, Eric Wishart, Andrew Fyall, Martin Geissler, James Matthews, Dougie Middleton, Bill Allsopp, Magnus Linklater, Ian Bell, Neil Ascherson, Harry Reid, Robbie Dinwoodie, Alan Cochrane, Ruth Wishart, Allan Massie, Rab McNeil, Willie Paul, Max McAuslane, John Gibson, Andrew Marr, Andrew Neil, James Naughtie, Gavin Esler, Magnus Magnusson and James Cameron.