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The Sunday Herald

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The Sunday Herald

This article is about the Scottish newspaper. For other uses, see Sunday Herald (disambiguation).

Sunday Herald
Type Weekly
Format Compact
Owner Newsquest
Editor Richard Walker
Founded 1999
Political alignment Centre-left
Language English
Headquarters 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow, Scotland
Circulation c.23,000 weekly
Official website

The Sunday Herald is a Scottish Sunday newspaper launched on 7 February 1999. The ABC audited circulation in June 2012 showed sales of 26,074, a historic low for the newspaper, and a c.15% decrease for the calendar year, the largest fall of any Sunday paper published in Scotland. Upcoming ABC figures show a circulation of closer to 23,000 weekly.

From the start it has combined a centre-left stance with support for Scottish devolution. It has been highly critical of some of the politicians within the Scottish Parliament, most notably former Scottish Conservative Party leader David McLetchie.

In July 2012 the decision was made by the newspapers' publishers to classify both the Sunday Herald as a 'regional' title, thus exempting it from the monthly ABC publication of circulation, which is now carried out bi-annually.[1] The next set of circulation figures for the Sunday Herald are due in February 2013.


In early 1998 the Scottish Media Group (SMG), then led by chairman Gus Macdonald, decided to create a Sunday sister for its existing national morning title The Herald, because the Glasgow-based media group was losing advertising revenue to rival newspaper publishers every Sunday. In March 1998 the media company's board appointed Andrew Jaspan, then the publisher and managing director of The Big Issue and a former editor of Scotland on Sunday, The Scotsman and The Observer to examine the business case for launching a new Sunday title. In October 1998 SMG (now known as STV Group plc), which also owns the broadcaster STV, committed to putting £10 million ($18.7 million) behind the new paper's launch.

Jaspan's launch team

Jaspan assembled a launch team including former Hue & Cry front man Pat Kane, novelist and TV entrepreneur Muriel Gray and BBC political commentator Iain Macwhirter and designer Simon Cunningham. Other former BBC television and radio journalists who joined the title included Lesley Riddoch, Torcuil Crichton and Pennie Taylor. A number of former Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday staff also joined the new paper, as did several journalists from The Big Issue's Scottish edition including Neil Mackay, David Milne and Iain S Bruce.

The Sunday Herald was launched as a six-section newspaper with the slogan "No ordinary Sunday" on 7 February 1999. The use of the word "fuck" in the first edition of the magazine alienated older and more conservative readers, but the paper quickly won a following among more liberal-minded Scots. It also won a raft of awards for its journalism, design and photography, in the UK and internationally, and secured the former archbishop Richard Holloway and On the Waterfront scriptwriter Budd Schulberg as regular contributors. Its web version gained a large readership in the United States because of its consistent anti-George W. Bush and anti-Iraq War line.

Sale to Newsquest

After having over-paid for acquisitions during the dot-com era, Scottish Media Group was in serious financial trouble by 2002. The company decided to sell its publishing arm, whose assets included The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times and magazines including Scottish Farmer, Boxing News and The Strad and a public auction, accompanied by a heated public debated, ensued.

When it looked like the right-wing Barclay brothers, owners of rival papers The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, were set to become the publishing group's owners, questions were raised in the Scottish Parliament. Had Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay and Andrew Neil succeeded in acquiring the fledgling Sunday Herald, they would have closed it down to give a clear run to their own Scotland on Sunday title, and merged The Herald with The Scotsman. That their goals were anti-competitive was confirmed when an unsigned leader written by Jaspan making these claims went unchallenged.[2] Determined to prevent the paper being acquired by tax exiles with no sympathy for its centre-left ethos, Jaspan led a campaign to keep it out of their hands. This included lobbying senior Labour Party (UK) politicians at their September 2002 conference in Blackpool.

The campaign proved successful, with even the Financial Times questioning whether it was right for the Barclay twins to have a monopoly of quality papers published in Scotland. The Sunday Herald and related titles were sold instead to Newsquest (a Gannett company) in a £216 million ($414 million) deal. This was cleared by the UK Department of Trade and Industry in March 2003, partly because it was persuaded the papers would keep their editorial independence under Gannett's ownership and because of Gannett's creation of a new Scottish division to run the acquired papers from Glasgow. The DTI report said: "We do not expect the transfer adversely to affect the current editorial freedom, the current editorial stance, content or quality of the SMG titles, accurate presentation of news or freedom of expression." The deal completed on 5 April 2003.

Jaspan resigned in 2004 to become editor of The Age in Melbourne, Australia. Richard Walker was appointed as his successor. Walker, a former production journalist on both the Daily Record and Scotland on Sunday had been with the title since its launch and had served as deputy to Jaspan for five years.

The Walker years

Walker took the Sunday Herald tabloid in November 2005 which brought a temporary uplift in circulation. Sales settled at 58,000 (source: Audit Bureau of Circulations[3]), and readership at 195,000 (source: National Readership Survey[4]). The week before the Sunday Herald was launched in February 1999, the Barclays' Scotland on Sunday sold more than 130,000 copies. This has since plummeted to c.46,000, about 50% higher than the circulation (June 2012 ABCs) of the Sunday Herald (26,074 weekly).

Walker was behind the launch of the blog site[5] in September 2006. Soon afterwards relations between management and staff deteriorated and trade union the National Union of Journalists threatened strike action over a change to the timing of pay days, though this never materialised. The union was again enraged in April 2007 when the Sunday Herald's US owners declared they were looking for annual cost cuts of £3 million across the three papers in their Scottish stable. This was to be achieved through redundancies, the closure of sections (such as Sunday Herald magazine) and perhaps also merging The Herald and Sunday Herald into a seven-day publishing operation. The NUJ accused Tim Blott, managing director of Newsquest Herald & Times, of reneging on pledges over the maintenance editorial standards made to the Department of Trade & Industry at the time it purchased the newspapers in 2003.


In April 2006 the Sunday Herald's Scottish political editor, Paul Hutcheon, won both Political Journalist of the Year and Journalist of the Year in the Scottish Press Awards for articles revealing that David McLetchie, leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, had abused taxpayers' money to pay for taxi fares for legal and party work. Hutcheon made use of the Scottish Freedom of Information Act to establish his case, which ultimately led to McLetchie resigning both as Conservative leader and as a partner in Edinburgh law firm Tods Murray.

Super Injunctions

On 22 May 2011, the paper became the first mainstream UK publication to name a person involved with a super injunction. In CTB v News Group Newspapers the claimant, a footballer previously known only as CTB, was identified by publishing as its front page an image of Ryan Giggs whose eyes are covered with a black bar which features the word "censored".[6][7] The paper argued that injunction was not valid in Scotland and only applicable to England,[6] however legal opinion suggests that the Scottish news outlet may be in breach an English injunction due to a House of Lords ruling in the 1987 Spycatcher case.[8]


1999: Andrew Jaspan
2003: Richard Walker

See also


External links

  • Sunday Herald


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