Page last updated at 02:42 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Caledonian Mercury: New online rival for Scottish press

Newspaper production line
Newspapers have struggled with falling readership and advertising revenue

Scotland's newspapers have a new competitor, though it is not on the news-stands.

The Caledonian Mercury is published online and is free to read.

Much of it is written by former journalists at The Scotsman.

Including articles about politics, health, entertainment, outdoors, heritage and sport, it takes its name from Mercurius Caledonius, believed to be the country's first newspaper, which was briefly published in 1660 and 1661.

According to editorial director Stewart Kirkpatrick: "There is a substantial gap in the market. There is room - in fact, a desperate need - for an online, heavyweight publication committed to quality journalism.

We want them to tell the stories that the churning maelstrom of the old-fashioned newsroom never allowed
Stewart Kirkpatrick
The Caledonian Mercury

"Scotland needs an intelligent title that uses the internet, not fights against it."

Writing ahead of the launch on the AllmediaScotland website, he said: "We've signed up leading writers, respected authorities in their fields and asked them to let rip.

"We want them to tell the stories that the churning maelstrom of the old-fashioned newsroom never allowed. We're interested in quality, not filling space.

"We're not worried about what's in the other papers this morning, we want to be told something we don't know already."

Falling readership

The Caledonian Mercury only has three people on its core staff: directors for editorial, technology and marketing.

It is not using start-up funding, and the plan is to raise revenue by selling advertising space and sponsorship.

A periodical printed version is also being planned.

The launch comes as mainstream newspapers continue to face falling readership numbers, and a tough advertising market. Almost all newspapers have had to shed journalists.

There is also a move towards newspapers' online sites to start charging for access to articles.



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