The Scotsman is to begin a drive for readers in its heartland – Edinburgh and the city’s environs – under new Scots-born editor Iain Martin.
He took the chair on Thursday and it is clear he intends giving The Scotsman back its authoritative Scottish voice. Martin, 30, was born in Paisley and has spent all his journalistic career in Scotland.
The policy pursued under his predecessor Rebecca Hardy – sacked on 19 December- and nurtured by publisher Andrew Neil, that The Scotsman should be a national newspaper competing with the London-based dailies, will be sidelined as Martin concentrates on home affairs.
He told Press Gazette: "The past is the past. This paper has a fantastic reputation. It is one of the best Scottish brands in the world.
"I really want to take it to the next stage of its development by driving as much news as possible into it. We have really got to get stuck into breaking some stories. I want The Scotsman to be Scotland’s national newspaper, which has a reputation for authority and being thought-provoking.
"It’s clear that we have to compete with everyone in our marketplace but it will be no surprise if I say as editor that I really want to drive our Edinburgh coverage. We are still determined to keep a strong Glasgow operation but we are going to start by looking at our Edinburgh coverage and ensuring it’s as good as it can be.
"Edinburgh and the areas around it is The Scotsman’s historical heartland."
In the next two weeks, Martin is to talk with all his journalists about their ideas for the paper. He has already worked before with The Scotsman’s, deputy editor, John Mullin, when he was assistant editor (politics) at the paper, and admires him as "a fantastic operator".
"There are very good people here and I want to make my way around them, talking to everyone. I want them to take pride in working for a newspaper which has a wonderful history," Martin stressed. "There have been cutbacks in this organisation but we are in really strong shape and the resources are there to do some really exciting things in 2002.
"We are not going to compromise on the fundamentals of great news and features coverage."
Martin began his career on The Sunday Times Scotland after freelancing for the paper – he interviewed Neil when he was a student nine years ago. He joined Scotland on Sunday as political editor and assistant editor in 1997, switching to The Scotsman in May 2000 until the end of that year when he returned to SoS as deputy editor.
SoS loses him at a critical time, with editor Margot Wilson due to go on maternity leave in May. But it has already been arranged that the editor of the Edinburgh Evening News, John McLellan, will take over from Wilson in her absence and his deputy, Ian Stewart, will temporarily edit the Evening News.
Hardy, the first woman editor of The Scotsman, was due to go on holiday to Barbados for a family Christmas when the announcement was made to staff that she would not be returning.
She was made deputy editor in April 2000, taking over as editor in June.
She saw a huge change of direction for the paper when its sales climbed to more than 100,000, helped by a £5m promotion, including price-cutting. But by last November they had dropped back to 79,000.
By Jean Morgan