AS the relatively modest sales of The Independent in Scotland partly reveal, doing things differently is certainly no guarantee of success. But then the Independent has barely any Scottish content, an accusation that cannot be levelled at ‘The new Sunday Herald’ – the much-anticipated revamped Sunday Herald, out today as as a single section news magazine.
Indeed, today’s edition of the new look is so Scottish, it features a dramatic photograph of former MSP, Tommy Sheridan, recently found guilty of perjury during his defamation case, five years ago, against the News of the World. The whole of the front page comprises a shot of Sheridan, as if emerging from the shadows. It dramatically sets the paper apart from its rivals on the newsstand, there being none of the traditional blocks of text.
Insofar as The new Sunday Herald is handsomely designed, it does, however, bear some comparison with The Independent.
Not every newspaper launch or relaunch manages to score a news hit; The new Sunday Herald avoids that potentially embarrassing fate with a strong tale of a juror in the Sheridan trial allegedly describing, on Faceboook, her fellow jurors as – among other things – “scum bags”.
The Guardian’s Scottish correspondent, Severin Carrell – speaking about the relaunch on today’s BBC Radio Scotland programme, Sheeren [Nanjiani] – wondered if there might be ‘Sheridan fatigue’, but Paul Hutcheon’s piece is timely insofar as Sheridan is due to be sentenced in just over a fortnight’s time.
Towards the ‘back of the book’, which comprises an illustration showing the Celtic football squad to be much larger than that of rivals, Rangers, there is a reflective piece about Kenny Dalglish’s appointment as interim manager at Liverpool FC. Missing, though, is the news prompt that he had indeed succeeded the outgoing Roy Hodgson.
Missing from the ‘front of the book’ is news of yesterday’s shooting of US Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. Instead, it leads ‘The World in Brief’ section, beginning on page 28. By contrast, Scotland on Sunday has the story on its front page – as a pic with an invitation to go to what is almost a full page report on page 21 – and the Scottish Mail on Sunday splashes with it, under the heading, ’18 Shot in Safeway Massacre’.
Half a dozen short news items across pages two and three are separated by a news analysis piece, by Vicky Allan, about the much-criticised storyline on the BBC soap opera, EastEnders, about a cot death baby being swapped for the new born of another character.
The paper gives the impression of making the relatively safe assumption that its readers have already acquired, from elsewhere, a working knowledge of what’s making the news.
Meanwhile, the middle pages comprise an atmospheric, snowy photograph of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, forming the basis of a short story by the acclaimed Scottish novelist, Alan Warner.
Thanks to high-quality newsprint, The new Sunday Herald certainly feels good to pick up. In particular its pages that are free of adverts – including its columnists – are stunningly good-looking.
Among allmediascotland’s weekend reads, the Sunday Herald was always among the first picks. With this revamp, it has surpassed itself. It is a triumph. 9/10.
Read Brian McNair’s take on the new look, here.