Ten months after Joan McAlpine took over as editor of The Sunday Times Scotland and told Press Gazette that her ambition was to overtake the sales of Scotland on Sunday, her dream is coming true – just as she moves to a new newspaper.
Her paper has outsold SoS three times in Scotland over the past seven weeks, according to estimated Sunday Times Scotland figures.
On 3 June, Sunday Times Scotland was some 15,000 copies ahead of SoS, on the back of a giveaway U2 CD, and on 10 June, without promotion, it remained in front, selling 80,931 to SoS’s 80,267.
And she has seen Sunday Times Scotland gain eight nominations in the Scottish Press Awards.
McAlpine is leaving to join The Herald, where she will be reunited with Mark Douglas-Home, her former editor, whom sources say has been trying to head-hunt her for some time.
As The Herald’s joint deputy editor, McAlpine will have responsibility for news and comment.
She told Press Gazette she had decided to make the change because she felt she would have a lot more influence at The Herald.
"It is a very powerful and influential position. The Herald is in the process of development and it is a fantastic opportunity to bring the paper forward."
She starts at the paper in August but left Sunday Times Scotland last week.
McAlpine, who has been at the paper since 1996, said she had learned a lot there which she could take on to The Herald. "I got together a great team and I feel I am leaving it in great shape under Dean [Nelson]," she added.
Nelson, her deputy, who stepped into her shoes on Tuesday, has been Scotland on Sunday’s deputy editor since last October and had previously worked on investigations.
Nelson, 37, is celebrated as the journalist who broke the first ‘lobbygate’ scandal of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, when he was Scottish editor of The Observer.
He later went to The Scotsman as assistant editor (politics) but departed shortly after the man who had recruited him, editor Alan Ruddock, left the paper.
Nelson said: "The gap between us and SoS gets narrower and narrower. Their trend is down and ours is up. Joan has brought us to this position and my intention is to finish the job. We’ll be doing it with good journalism and hard news stories."
He intends to bring in an experienced investigations journalist to work with his team of 30 journalists in the role of news editor for forward specials. But he will not yet name him.
Carlos Alba, Sunday Times Scotland’s news editor, moves up to the deputy’s post. He is a former political correspondent for the Daily Record.
By Jean Morgan