Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009

Newspaper taken over by its staff

West Highland Free Press website
West Highland Free Press was set up in 1972

Staff at the award-winning West Highland Free Press have taken the publication over from five shareholders who had owned it.

The weekly was founded in 1972 as a left-wing newspaper to campaign for the Gaelic language and against absentee landlords.

Among its founding shareholders was Brian Wilson, a former Labour government minister.

The newspaper will now be managed by a trust centred around the staff.

Mr Wilson said the Free Press was in good shape.

The paper's Gaelic slogan on its masthead - An Tir, an Canan 'sna Daoine - translates as the land, the language, the people and was borrowed from the Highland Land League.

In the late 19th Century the league campaigned on behalf of crofters.

Media consultant and former editor of the Herald, Charles McGhee, said the Free Press has always been different from other local papers which were struggling to keep readers and raise revenue from advertising.

He said: "There is generally a depression across the whole industry.

"There are one or two bright spots and one of these is the West Highland Free Press. Its circulation over the last six months is only down by about 2%, which in a declining market is a good performance."

Mr McGhee added: "Part of the reason for that is that the West Highland Free press is one of the few newspapers in Scotland that is still independently owned, it's still very much rooted in its community and services that community really well."

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