West Highland Free Press celebrating 40th birthday

THE only employee-owned newspaper in the UK is tomorrow celebrating its 40th birthday.

With radical roots from its very inception, the Skye-based West Highland Free Press has – says an editorial appearing tomorrow – “fought many battles on behalf of the West Highlands and Islands”.

The weekly title was launched from a house in Kyleakin.

Adds the editorial: “Given that one of our primary purposes is to give this peripheral region a voice in distant centres of power, such a combative stance has often been necessary.

“Sometimes – in Brussels, London, Edinburgh and even Inverness – our perspective on important matters has made an impression. Sometimes it has not. But the battles lost do not weaken our resolve to fight them and, in doing so, hold power to account.

“Many of the issues that confronted the founders of the Free Press in 1972 still dominate our news agenda.”

According to the latest sales figures, the WHFP averages sales of 8,065, down two per cent on the six-month average leading up to the end of 2010.

The paper was sold to its employees by its founders – including former MP and UK government minister, Brian Wilson – in October three years ago.

The editorial later continues: “Over the next four decades, our challenge will be to ensure that [the] relationship [we have with readers] continues to flourish. The Free Press was always independent; it is now owned by the people who produce it. So it is as an employee-owned newspaper that we re-dedicate ourselves to you [the readers]. We believe that a thriving West Highland Free Press is a good news story not only for the paper itself, but also, much more importantly, for the region and the wonderful communities that we aspire to serve.”