Johnstone Press Abandons Paywall

The Johnstone Press, the publisher of the Scotsman and Yorkshire Post, is to scrap an experimental paywall it erected around several of its newspapers. The trial, which saw different pricing and schemes being tried across its local and regional UK newspaper empire, saw poor take-up. The scrapping of the scheme comes just days after News International announced it intended to charge from June for online access to The Times and Sunday Times. Will the national titles fare better?

News International has started to market heavily the pay scheme, offering early registration and a chance to preview the new sites and multi-media fare that will accompany the introduction of the charge.

UK Newspapers Take a Pounding

The UK’s national newspaper circulations fell badly in September. The Guardian and Independent fell 9.7 per cent and 15.6 per cent year on year respectively. But the biggest loser among the quality dailies was my old paper The Times, down 10.4 per cent. Despite its international brand name, the Independent has a circulation way below 200,000. Is it time it followed the example of the Christian Science Monitor – namely, be exclusively an online product and focus solely on international news? When is it going to close its sister Sunday newspaper, a paper that adds little to its brand and doesn’t help with the finances?

The circulations for the once excellent indigenous Scottish qualities make for grim reading. Another one of my old papers, Scotland on Sunday, twice the UK newspaper of the year, has seen its circulation halved in less than a decade. Both the Scotsman and the Herald are selling fewer copies than some major regional English dailies. Andrew Neil did not help the commercial cause of the Scotsman Group when the Barclays Brothers were the owners: telling the Scots they are a miserable lot and should be more like the English tends not to boost newspaper sales over the border. But, of course, it is not all Neil’s fault: the Internet reaper is doing its bits in Scotland, too. Clearly the only way forward for the Herald and Scotsman Groups is somehow to bridge the west-east cultural divide in Scotland and to merge.