Category Archives: Journalism and Literature

“Can Journalism Survive the Death of Newspapers?” – Roy Greenslade lecture at the University of Edinburgh

Photo Above: Roy Greenslade © Sinn Féin on Flickr

By Charlotte Hulme and Aisling Press

Roy Greenslade, former Editor of The Mirror, delivered a lecture at the University of Edinburgh last night, during which he predicted the end of print media.

Continue reading “Can Journalism Survive the Death of Newspapers?” – Roy Greenslade lecture at the University of Edinburgh

Study on Scotland’s most expensive streets is misleading

By Yaz Duncan

A recent study by the Bank of Scotland naming Northumberland Street as the most expensive in Scotland may be misleading according to local estate agents.

The study conducted by the bank named Northumberland Street in Edinburgh’s New Town as the most expensive street to buy property, with average house prices hovering around the £1.3million mark.

However, the study has faced criticism from estate agents who say that the statistic is not accurate because more expensive houses have been sold in the surrounding streets.

Peter Lyle, Director of Edinburgh Residential at Savills said: ‘We have sold a property in Northumberland Street for £1.7m, a little bit more actually. That is the most expensive this year.

‘Properties in the surrounding area have sold for more than £1.7m in streets like Heriot Row and Royal Circus. A whole townhouse there will be more expensive than in Northumberland Street.

‘The study is comparing apples and pears and is simply taking an average of what has been recently sold. If you look at some streets in St Andrews houses are selling for three or four million. It is an odd statistic.’

Despite the alleged inaccuracy of the study, Northumberland Street properties are still selling for higher than average prices and the New Town continues to be a desirable area.

Peter Lyle added: ‘Northumberland Street is in the heart of the New Town, walking distance from Princes Street and close to nice parks. It ticks the boxes for people wanting to live in the city centre.’

In response to suggestions by estate agents that the study is misleading Nitesh Patel, economist at the Bank of Scotland said: ‘We took the period from 2010-2015 and there had to a be a minimum of seven transactions over this period.

‘Northumberland Street meets that criteria with an average house price of over £1.3m. There is always research being done on expensive streets. We make clear that it has to be a minimum of seven transactions in five years.

‘We get data from the Registrar of Scotland. I don’t know what estate agents have  said but there will be one or two streets with more expensive sales but they would not meet our criteria.’

The average UK house price in 2015 was £197,000 but the number of homes in Scotland sold for more than £1m has more than doubled over the last 12 months. The capital boasts 13 of the 20 most expensive streets, Aberdeen have four and Glasgow have two.


Journalist Ian Bell dies aged 59

By Nicholas Mairs

Scottish writer and journalist Ian Bell has died at the age of 59.

The Sunday Herald columnist was previously Scottish editor of The Observer, and also worked for The Herald, The Scotsman and the Daily Record.

Bell started his career as a sub-editor and then a lead writer, where he was recognised as a voice for the pro-independence side during the 2014 referendum.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: ‘This is devastating news. Ian Bell was one of Scotland’s finest writers and a man of deep intellect and principle.’

Scottish media personalities paid tribute to the Edinburgh-born writer following the news.

His former Sunday Herald colleague and fellow columnist Ian McWhirter tweeted: ‘Loss of my colleague Ian Bell leaves an aching void in Scottish journalism. He set the standard we all tried to equal, but never could’.

The Herald writer Hugh MacDonald said: ‘His character can be accurately gauged by the tone and humanity of his columns. But it was a joy to read him, it was a blessing to know him. He was a great writer and a good man.’

Bell was also recognised as a biographer, having written on Robert Louis Stevenson and Bob Dylan.

He was a multi-award winner, winning the Columnist of the Year award on several occasions. He was also the recipient of the George Orwell Prize for Journalism in 1997.

Glasgow broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli honoured Bell’s accolades. He said: ‘The Scottish Columnist of the Year was affectionately known as the Ian Bell Prize, he won it that often…’

He is survived by his wife Mandy and son Sean.

Sean Bell, in a statement issued on behalf of the family, said: “Our family has lost a husband, a father and a son and Scotland has lost its finest journalist. He set a standard none shall ever reach again yet he inspired us to never stop trying.

‘We ask that our privacy is respected at this difficult time.’

The Sunday Herald has vowed to pay a ‘fulsome tribute’ to their former writer in this weekend’s edition.


Creative Scotland defends using National Lottery proceeds to fund arts

By Philip Askew

Creative Scotland, the public body that subsides arts across the country, has defended the use of money raised through the National Lottery, calling it an “ideal” method of funding.

The academic Robert Hewison recently slammed government austerity measures as “anti-culture”, leading to a decline of interest and funding in art across the UK.

He specifically criticized increasing reliance on the National Lottery as a “funder of first and last resort”, saying it was “dangerous to run the country’s culture on a game of chance”.

Recent government statistics have shown that the number of adults engaging with the arts even once a year has increased by only 0.5 percent since 2005.

But Ian Stevenson, Creative Scotland’s director of finance, said Mr Hewison’s comments reveal “a lack of understanding of basic maths”.

He said: “The lottery is a game of chance as far as people buying a ticket are concerned, but it is very dependable as a source of income. It goes up in weeks with a large jackpot then returns to a steady base level in other weeks. Which means that the money raised for good causes, and therefore the money available for the arts, is in fact steady.

“Why can’t the arts be run on Lottery proceeds? It’s the ideal way to fund the arts – no one is forced to pay for them, and everyone who buys a ticket pays a little towards them.”

Creative Scotland inherited the role of the Scottish Arts Council in 2010.

Its stated objectives are to “promote an understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the arts and culture” and to “support and develop talent and excellence” across Scotland.

In October the organisation revealed it was suffering from a “funding crisis” due to being vastly over-subscribed, but has since assured applicants that money will be available to “most if not all” subscribers.

Other sponsors of Creative Scotland include the arts charities Made in Scotland and the National Youth Arts Fund.

‘Beauty by Design’ – A collaboration between past and present

This weekend saw the opening of a new exhibition, ‘Beauty by Design’, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

A collaboration between  designers, curators, and art historians, it aims to highlights parrallels between portrayals of fashion in Renaissance art and contemporary fashion trends.

The works range from modern reenactments of famous portraits to lace dresses stylised according to traditional ideals of beauty and fashion.

The exhibition began as academic research by the Edinburgh College of Art’s “All Walks Beyond the Catwalk” Diversity Network, which examines the effect of modern fashion on models and workers in the industry, with a focus on “developing a more responsible, diverse and emotionally considerate response to fashion design and fashion design communication.”

Exhibits include works by Mal Burkinshaw, Sally-Ann Provan and Philip Clarke from the ECA.

Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, commented: “This terrific project illustrates how historic portraiture can be a profound source of inspiration to contemporary practitioners in the world of fashion. It is also especially pleasing as a rich collaborative endeavour, which has brought together designers, art historians and curators.

“Our hope is that many visitors will enjoy plotting the connections between the Gallery’s collection and these wonderfully imaginative responses to it.”

Supporters of the exhibition include the ECA, the lace manufactuer Sophie Hallette, and the arts funding agency New Media Scotland.

Chris Sachs, a spokesperson for New Media Scotland, praised the project as pushing artistic boundries. “We’ve usually been interested in projects that look at the relationship between technology and art. But it’s great how [‘Beauty by Design’] challenged contemporary trends in fashion…. It definitely caught our eye.”

‘Beauty by Design’ will be running at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery until May 3rd 2015. Admission is free.


Police deny overreaction in rooftop manhunt

By Philip Askew and Mariana Mercado


Police in Edinburgh have defended their response to last Saturday’s manhunt through the city centre, where more than 50 riot officers cordoned off part of Cockburn Steet.

Authorities were pursuing two alleged motorcycle thieves through Edinburgh’s Old Town aided by riot police, sniffer dogs and helicopters in what was described as a “mini war-zone” by Twitter users.

Amid accusations of overreacting, Superintendent Angus MacInnes has defended the heavy handed response, saying that they were “simply about ensuring safe and coordinated apprehension of the suspects” due to the “height and potential danger” involved.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland has emphasised that there were no firearms involved in the incident, saying it was “never a shooting” and that reports to the contrary were just “social media doing its thing”.

The two suspects ran away from police on patrol in Tron Square at 8pm when the chase started, according to a statement from the police. One man was detained and a stolen motorcycle was recovered nearby.

Riot police were brought out when an emergency call placed the second alleged perpetrator on the roof one of the buildings in Cockburn street.

Police are still searching for the other suspect, and the investigation is ongoing.


“League games more important than Cup Final” – Pat Fenlon before Dons clash

Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon spoke to our sports reporter Joe Birchenall ahead of his sides fixture tonight at Easter Road. Fenlon’s charges face Aberdeen, a side who they have not beaten in the league since May last year. However, Hibs face the Dons on the back of a thrilling Scottish Cup semi-final win against Falkirk, which saw them claim a 4 – 3 victory despite finishing the first half three goals down. Fenlon, however, is keen to push on and to focus on remaining league games, saying he is disappointed to have finished outside of the top six.

Fenlon also discusses the breakthrough of youngsters Alex Harris and Danny Handling, his reaction to Neil Lennon’s SFA woes and the imminent departure of Hibs top scorer Leigh Griffiths.

Media Mondays – Catriona Shearer – 04.02.2013

By: Lauren Elliott

NapiersCatShearerCatriona Shearer, who studied at Napier 10 years ago, came back again to tell her life story and revisit tales of her experiences here.
She tells of how she climbed the ladder from being a student at Napier to working as a presenter for the BBC. We find out how she managed to get her work experience at BBC Radio5 Live and what work she does on a daily basis.
Catriona gives a very warm speech and provides plenty of inspiration and advice for student journalists who are just starting out. This talk is well worth a listen.

Listen Here:

Media Monday- Richard Walker – 28/01/2013

By Lauren Elliott, Lisa Mitchell and Alex Neal

Editor of the Sunday Herald, Richard Walker, visited Napier University today to talk about the trials and tribulations of a Sunday paper in Scotland.  This engaging and innovative talk delves into topics such as the arduousness of transforming your reputable print newspaper into an online equivalent and that controversial super injunction story.

Listen Here:

New lit mag to hit streets

The University of Edinburgh will release a new publication tomorrow, which gives budding authors, poets and playwrights an platform to publish their work.

As part of the society of the same name, PublishED will be produced semesterly and distributed free around the Edinburgh University George Square campus. Containing prose, poetry, drama and interviews with authors, the magazine aims to provide a way in to the publishing industry for fledgling writers. The first issue, containing interviews with, Australian poet Les Murray and Edinburgh writers Iain Banks and Alexander McCall Smith, will be unveiled tomorrow.

The project started in May this year and Editor-in-Chief Matt Oldfield believes the magazine will be an important tool for young writers: “We started up because we got tired of waiting for other people to start a literary magazine. Since May we have been slowly building up the project, but it took awhile for things to really start moving. Its a publication with the aim of showcasing the best literary work. We also aim to provide a valuable insight and pathway into the publishing industry.”

Interviewed in the first issue: Alexander McCall Smith (Photo by Lärarnas Nyheter)

PublishED also intend to hold events throughout the year to raise both awareness and funds for the magazine, which is entirely self funded. Ahead of its official launch party, at Edinburgh’s Blackwell bookstore tonight, Oldfield said they “have so far raised over £700 through various fundraising events including book sales, bake sales, quiz nights, variety nights and ghost story nights.”

Edinburgh is well known for its rich cultural and literary heritage, and is home to some of the world’s best known writers. Some of its most celebrated poets, including Don PatersonJohn Burnside and Kathleen Jamie, will perform at this year’s Hogmanay celebrations and PublishED hopes to offer luminaries a chance to achieve the same level of success.

The website already contains a collection of local writers’ work, and Edinburgh based poet Rebecca Ross is excited by the prospect of a magazine aimed at young, rather than established, writers: “Poetry and the arts in general is a notoriously difficult industry to get into, so the launch of a magazine which provides a potential pathway is very much welcomed.”

Ross added: “The real challenge for many poets is gaining a reputation. Once you have that, publications will approach you for work. It’s extremely important for publications like this to exist to help get over that first hurdle.”

Lanarkshire radio station L107 faces action

by Adam Cromarty

One of Scotland’s smallest, yet most talked about radio stations faces strong action after a breaching the license they hold for North Lanarkshire.

L107 - A station in breach

Whilst L107 remains to hold a small audience reach, they have received much attention from those who live in the area to which it broadcasts and those work in the Scottish radio industry. This follows various changes in ownership, the alleged theft of its main transmitter and outrageous tag-lines such as ‘The one everyones listening to’ and ‘Scotland’s biggest and best radio station’.

During the past few years, the Lanarkshire licence has been rescued on many occasions by a variety of radio faces including ex Radio 1 DJ Mark Page and tartan ‘shock-jock’ Scottie McClue (aka Colin Lamont) who reportedly put up and lost £100’000 of his own money to fund the station. Most recently and following the suspension of Mr Lamont’s business partner Alan Shields, John Prendergast of Creative Media stepped in on the 22nd of February and is recognised the current owner of the license.

After a short spell of fruitful output, the focus soon shifted to the lack of local news. This is something all local stations must provide as a part of their licence agreement.

Following on from the change in control and acting upon complaints made, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom recently undertook a content sampling investigation. During the first three days in August, the regulatory body found that station delivers “far more locally produced content than is required by the format”. However, they also reported that they local news was “problematic” and whilst the station did run more bulletins than was required, the level of repetition was found to be unacceptable with the same bulletin being used 16 times. L107 was found to be in breach of license.

At the time of writing, L107 has been off-air for six days with listeners able to hear a back-up CD on one of the stations two frequencies and the other is simply broadcasting dead air.

Scottish Parliament launches competition for future journos

by Junio Valerio Songa

The Chamber of the Scottish Parliament


Any aspiring journalist who would be interested in work experience at the Scottish Parliament can apply for a competition launched by Holyrood in collaboration with the Fife Free Press newspaper.

The week long placement will be accessible to Scottish final year and postgraduate journalism students, who will work alongside accomplished journalists in the Parliament’s Media Tower, filing copies on parliamentary business and covering the week’s hot topics.

Candidates can access the competition, which started the 28th of October, by submitting a 500 words essay on the topic “what do you see as the main achievements of the Scottish parliament to date?” The essays will be judged by a panel which includes Allan Crow, Editor at Fife Free Press, Katrine Bussey, Political Editor of the Scottish Press Association; Raymond Buchanan, BBC Reporter; and Annette McCann, Head of Media Affairs at The Scottish Parliament.

Presiding Officer Alex Ferguson MSP said about the competition:

“The Scottish Parliament is delighted to be launching this student placement competition for up and coming journalists. We are at the hub of political news in Scotland, therefore I can think of no better place for a student to learn their trade.”

All entries will have to be submitted to Media Relations Office, Q3.03, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP, the deadline for the admission is 3rd of December 2010.

Scientists take a step closer to creating Potter’s invisibility cloak

by Neal Wallace

Harry Potter’s famous invisibility cloak may not be quite as far fetched as it seems, after scientists in the UK demonstrated a flexible film, which can make objects appear invisible.

The team, from the University of St. Andrews, demonstrated the film’s, called “Metaflex”, flexibility, by using a tiny amount on a contact lens, can . It works by interrupting and channeling the flow light, rendering objects invisible, much in the way an invisibility cloak might.

Scientist Andrea Di Falco, who wrote the paper concerning the material, said: “The first step is imagining first of all that this could be done. All the typical results have been reached in flat and rigid surfaces because this is the legacy of the procedures used to create nanostructures.”

This is not the first time flexible metamaterials have been made, with previous attempts only able to work for light with a much longer wavelength – a far redder colour – than humans can see. This is because metamaterials are easier to construct when they have relatively large structures, and so only work at the Terahertz and near-infrared ends of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Metaflex works in a similar way to water bending round a rock in a stream. Thanks to a composition of tiny nano-structures, it interacts with the light, causing it to bend around the object, rather than absorbing it.

Invisibility may soon be a reality (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros)

According to professor Ortwin Hess, at Imperial College London, the next step is to manipulate the material’s optical for use in options and cameras. He described the team’s success as a “huge step forward”.

Di Franco insists there is still a long way to go before people will be able to sneak around Hogwarts undetected: “So far he’s had to live in a house and now he can live in something like a tent; it’s not the cloak that adjusts to his shape, but it’s a bit more flexible. Now we have to take the next step forward.”

France strikes rides new wave

by Tony Gougeon

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France has been facing one of its most important strike waves this year after the recent announcement of a new pension reform made by President Nicolas Sarkozy at the end of the summer, wishing to push the legal retiring age from 60 to 62.

What seemed to be a usual striking opportunity for French people began to get out of control recently when petrol industries joined the movement, forcing the government to put drastic measures into place and restricting petrol supplies.

Now that the reform has been voted by Parliament, the government expects the situation to get back to normal as soon as possible, Jean Louis Borloo (minister of Ecology and Energy) announcing live on television last night that “95% of the petrol stations have been provided with fuel”. However, protests are still taking place everywhere in the country at high schools, universities, post offices and several other sectors, and people are still expected to be in the streets this Saturday.

Most petrol stations have been forced to shut for a few days, expecting to be delivered soon and encountering a loss of over 100 million euro for the main oil refinery Total, according to its financial director Patrick de la Chevardiere.

However, every time one of them can open again customers have to queue for hours, where they will only be able to purchase up to €21, or be told the station has run out of petrol already. The last weekend of October being a popular holiday for French people, petrol was still rare and the restrictions not lifted.

Some people claim it is still time to fight back: Henriette Minard, 72 and retired, is still calling for people to protest. “The pension reform was the spark the movement needed,” she says. “It is particularly unfair to the previous and next generations: people have been fighting and are still fighting to make their lives more enjoyable. The senate voting the reform last week is not a death sentence to the movement.”

On the other side, some people are starting to get tired of the process: Mai-anh Peterson, a British student sent from Edinburgh to study in Montpelier as part of the Erasmus exchange program says: “This is taking it too far. When it starts to affect people’s everyday lives in such a drastic manner it makes it hard to see what the point is. Retirement ages are increasing all over the world, France should it count itself lucky – it still has the lowest retirement age in Europe. If it’s not economically viable for the government to back down on its proposal, then all I can foresee is a complete standstill.”

Her university, along with numerous others across the country, have been forced to interrupt their normal agenda because students have been blocking access into the buildings, which is the answer students have used for decades now. However, with exams coming up, the movement is losing strength as more and more students are getting worried about their grades.

Transplantation anniversary

Edinburgh is the place to be when you need a kidney transplant as 50 years ago the first ever transplant took place. So much has happened since then and yet there are still so many people waiting on that gift of life that will change them forever.

Since that first transplant, 45,000 people have had their lives radically changed due to the generosity of others. And yet so many are still waiting for that gift of life that they need.

Part of the major campaign to raise awareness

Stefan Kormylo, 33, is one of the lucky people to have received that gift. “It’s an amazing transformation between living on dialysis, waiting on that phone call that will change everything, living a life with fluid and dietary restrictions and spending so much time in hospital. To then go from all that to living a life which is relatively normal in the sense that I can do what I like, from cycling to walking the dog to drinking what I like and not having to think about the unknown phone call that you so desire when living a life on dialysis.”

The difference in lifestyles are at different ends of the spectrum, yet more and more people are waiting for a kidney as each year passes. Within the last year there has been a massive increase in the number of transplants, a record high of 1791 kidney transplants took place, the highest in 14 years. But there are still 8000 people in Scotland needing a new kidney.

Dr Caroline Whitworth, head consultant in Renal medicine  at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary hospital feels that we have a long way to go. “We have seen a big difference in the way we care for patients in the last 20 years with the advances in technology helping to provide a better health service. But there is nothing, as yet, we can do to increase the number of transplants without the generosity and kindness of people donating organs. It is amazing to think that so many people, in their final moments, want to make sure their death has not been meaningless and they give the gift of life.”

So with the Scottish Government deciding, for the time being, not to change the law from an ‘opt in’ system to an ‘opt out’ one, there seems to be a real focus on educating the next generation on the importance of donating organs. With transplant co-ordinators going into schools giving presentations on the importance of organ donation, they hope to change the opinions of next of kin when available organs come up for donation. At the moment figures show that 40 percent of organs that could be used for transplantation are being refused by the next of kin due to lack of knowledge and not knowing that their loved ones wanted to give this gift of life.

However, if we see the same medical advances in the next 50 years as we have seen in the past then transplant waiting lists may be a thing of the past, thanks to stem-cell technology. Scientists have made a stem-cell kidney but as yet cannot seem to get it to work like a conventional one. Until then there is a great need for organs. If you wish to register to donate your organs go to:



The final whistle on Scottish Football? An insight into the current furore

By Christopher Hall

For years Scottish Football has had it’s issues, everyone knows that.

Sectarianism, racism and debt have all manifested themselves over the last few years within the match day terraces and streets of Scotland. Refereeing enquiries, while omnipresent, are usually taken no farther than the post-match summary from the irate gaffer.

However, the question looms nearer. Are the current refereeing scandals a genuine threat to the game and the final nail in an already watertight coffin?

Only time will tell.

The happenings within the SFA will either be lost within a plethoric archive of footballing news articles or there will be a genuine outcome to this long running saga which poses a real significant threat to our national game.

To simply understand the situation you would personally have to comb through an infinite amount of news articles and reports and still not establish a firm conclusion. On the one hand, you have the letters from Neil Lennon outlining his misgivings with decisions given against his Celtic side at Tannadice and more recently at Parkhead in the Old Firm derby. On the other side, there are officials such as Stephen Craven deciding to quit the game in bizarre circumstances after his involvement in a decision to overturn a penalty for the Glasgow team last week. There appears to be a smoke screen appearing within the game which wont be cleared until the SFA provide their official investigation and a proper conclusion is reached which will allow normal service to resume.

To the fair minded individual, it is obvious that referees are not hired on the basis of their religion, creed or race but by their ability to handle a football match in a manner which is fair and competent. Edinburgh Napier News looks at some major decisions in Scotland in the past five years which have added fuel to the flames within the Scottish football refereeing debate:

* Hearts fans are incensed after Defender Takis Fyssas is given a straight red after an alleged challenge on Celtic midfielder Shaun Maloney (Jan 2006)

* St Mirren are in the news as Gus Macpherson is threatened with a fine for criticising an assistant official in a cup match against Dundee United. (Feb 2007)

* Craig Levein is fined £5000 by the SFA after a post match outburst against former whistler Mike McCurry. Levein was outraged after a string of bizarre decisions which went against his team in a match against Rangers (May 2008)

* Rangers player Kyle Lafferty is fined by his club after deliberately feigning injury which resulted in a straight red card for Aberdeen defender Charlie Mulgrew. (May 2009)

* Stephen Craven and Dougie Macdonald are under fire after awarding Celtic a penalty against Dundee United before quickly overturning the decision to the shock of Celtic Manager Neil Lennon (October 2010)

If you think that you’ve got what it takes to become a referee in Scotland the why not follow this link

BBC Journalists to Strike

BBC journalists are to stage two 48-hour strikes in the coming weeks as the long running row over pensions rages on.

The National Union of Journalists said its members will walk out on November 5 and 6 and again on November 15 and 16, with further strike dates to be announced in the coming days, including the threat of a Christmas stoppage.

The move follows a 70% majority rejection by NUJ members of the BBC’s “final” offer on pensions. The union described the proposed changes as making journalists “pay more, work longer and receive lower pensions”.

The union makes up 17% of BBC staff, UK-wide, with 300 members in Scotland. They said its 4,000 members at the BBC will also refuse to take on additional duties or volunteer for acting-up duties as part of an indefinite work to rule.

The dispute flared after the BBC announced plans to cap pensionable pay from next April and revalue pensions at a lower level, which unions said effectively devalued pensions already earned. BBC management said the changes were needed to try to tackle a huge pension deficit of more than £1.5 billion.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August Mark Thompson told delegates: “We’re going through one of the most painful changes of all – confronting the fact that the current pension arrangements for people inside the organisation are simply no longer affordable.”

In what many commentators are predicting will be a winter of discontent, the strikes by BBC journalists could be the first in a long line of industry disputes. Firefighters are also threatening industrial action but it is yet to be seen if either of these groups will gain the level of public support being demonstrated on the streets of Paris, as Nicholas Sarkozy raises the age for the state pension.