MSPs pledge support for weekly titles

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Johnston Press, publisher of The Berwickshire News, has welcomed the debate in the Scottish Parliament which highlighted the importance of the role played by local newspapers in communities across the country.

A motion by Angus South MSP Graeme Dey asked members to recognise that “a well-resourced, diverse, free press is vital to democracy in Scotland and provides a type of coverage not available via other platforms”.

Mr Dey’s motion also noted that Johnston Press might be considering selling off some of its titles and referred to the loss of a large number of jobs over the past few years.

It concluded by asking that the Parliament expressed its concern “at the decline in fortunes of traditional, local papers and the impact that this is having on journalistic employment”.

Colin Hume, the editorial director for Johnston Press’s weekly titles in Scotland, said: “Like all newspaper companies we have experienced massive changes in recent years as we respond to the different ways people are looking to consume our news and it is necessary that we constantly review how we operate our business.

“We have a number of smaller brands which need simple solutions to ensure they serve their communities effectively and profitably.

“This group makes up a third of our news brands​.

“We intend to review these first and will look to establish new, innovative models to enable us to improve the levels of return from this group.

“It is critical that our resources and staff are ​employed to the maximum effect and we will be working speedily to establish an effective publishing model for these brands.

“Our priority, however, is to continue to be a viable business and we have to develop a new partnership with our readers, advertisers and other commercial interests as we go forward.

“We are delighted that the Parliament has recognised the pressures being placed on an industry that has served the country and its people so well for more than 100 years and would welcome any support it can give us as we look to preserve that tradition.

“I have already received communication from MSPs and look forward to hearing their ideas on how we we can work together in the future.”