A FORMEr Sunday Mail editor has rebutted claims that the Daily Record and Sunday Mail are ‘charity cases’ for their publishers, Trinity Mirror, while saying the Record made a huge mistake backing Labour and castigating the SNP during the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections.
Jim Cassidy was responding to a blog by The Guardian’s media commentator, Roy Greenslade, following news last week that 90 editorial jobs have been earmarked for redundancy at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail newspapers. Among other things, Greenslade says: “I have no especial brief for Trinity Mirror – as I must have made clear endless numbers of times on this blog – but its willingness to continue publishing the Record and Mail could be viewed as an act of charity.
“In a sense, the publisher is running a sort of social welfare service for journalists. Its board knows, though it cannot admit it, that there is no real future for the Record and Mail.
“It is managing decline. And the cuts are being made in order to ensure that the papers survive for longer than they really merit. Trinity Mirror directors won’t thank me for saying what they cannot, but it is the reality.”
Cassidy was nine years Sunday Mail editor, having previously been deputy editor and features editor at the Daily Record.
He asks of Greenslade: “Professor, where did you hide that compassion?”
But via Greenslade’s blog, Cassidy also writes: “The great strength of the Scottish titles was the bond with the people of Scotland. When Scotland cried over the Dunblane Massacre or the Piper Alpha disaster, it was to the Record or Mail they turned to for information and comfort.
“It had an empathy with its readers that I believe was unique, perhaps only equalled by the Daily Mirror in the fifties and sixties and the Express in the fifties.
“The papers were the conscience of the people of Scotland. When Scots were angry, the Record was angry. When the nation was in turmoil the papers offered hope. Where there was injustice the papers fought for the rights of Scotland.”
He continues: “The harsh and cruel reality is a lack of guidance and investment has left the titles cast adrift. The decision-making has, at the least, been questionable.
“There have been those in authority I wouldn’t have trusted to sell the Big Issue in George Square or Princes Street, never mind run a newspaper.
“This, remember, in an organisation once managed by the likes of Murdoch MacLennan and Kevin Beatty.
“Roy is on the money when he says the titles have lost their social compass when it comes to reflecting the issues facing Scots in 21st century Scotland. In news, sport and features they have tried to outshine The Sun and were eclipsed.”