Scottish politicians and news publishing figures gathered in Westminster this week to hear the outcome of a significant study into the economic impact of the industry on the Scottish economy.
The study, conducted by Edinburgh consultants Optimal Economics and involving every major publisher in Scotland, shows that newspaper publishing contributes over £217m to the economy and supports 4,300 jobs. Of those, 2,800 are directly employed, the vast majority full-time, with the rest made up of contracted workers or jobs supported in the wider economy.
The full details of the report are still being finalised and will be available later in the Spring. Presenting the initials findings at a drinks reception in the Churchill Room at the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday evening, SNS director John McLellan said: “The figures prove what we’ve always known, that the Scottish newspaper industry makes a significant contribution to the Scottish economy.
“But it goes further than just the raw numbers; the industry helps people to communicate, for businesses to connect with their customers and, of course, for politicians to get their messages across to their voters. Without the authenticity and authority which comes with recognised newspaper brands large and small, reliable communication would be infinitely more difficult in the minefield that is the ever-changing digital world.”
The SNS has been conducting several research programmes to assess attitudes as well as impact. A survey of politicians and public sector decision makers in association with IPSOS-MORI showed that 90 per cent used Scottish newspapers every week as a source of information and a clear majority
(63 per cent) regarded them as trustworthy. An overwhelming majority (83 per cent) agreed that newspapers remained useful in getting information to the public.
A further survey of readers’ attitudes by Research and Analysis of Media showed that well over two-thirds believe that news publications are the best place to find out what is happening in their communities, about government decisions and address special concerns of direct importance to their lives.
Further readership analysis from the official National Readership Survey (NRS) shows that every day 1.9 million Scots read a daily newspaper, either in print or online, which represents 43 per cent of the Scottish population. Over a month, some 3.3 million Scots will have read a newspaper at least once a month.
John McLellan commented: “These figures should dispel the myth of the irrelevance of newspapers as a means of communication in the digital age. Our publications are as vital now as they’ve ever been in keeping the public informed about the decisions being made every day on their behalf.”
The Westminster event was hosted by Aberdeen South MP Callum McCaig and sponsored by Gatwick Airport. Callum McCaig expressed his support for the industry and his recognition of the role newspapers play in helping communities communicate. Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate spoke about his optimism for both air travel and the future of Gatwick itself with the decision about the new London runway expected this year.
“I’m extremely grateful to both Callum and Stewart for supporting our event so enthusiastically,” said John McLellan. “Without their backing the event would not have been the success it was.”