A letter has been sent on behalf of 20 Scottish rural stakeholders including the National Farmers Union for Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, The Scottish Young Farmers Association and Scotland Food and Drink regarding the decision taken by The Scotsman newspaper to end its dedicated farming coverage. The letter went to the Editor and the six members of the parent company’s Board
The letter stated –
Agricultural and Rural Coverage – The Scotsman
We are deeply disappointed and concerned about the plans to cease having dedicated agricultural coverage in The Scotsman and we collectively ask you to reconsider this direction of travel.
The Scotsman’s agricultural section has built a reputation as an important and trusted source of news relating to a huge range of aspects of farming, food and rural life, and The Scotsman readership, both in-print and online, should continue to benefit from dedicated, accurate and professional coverage of Scotland’s food and farming industry.
A commitment to continuing to provide quality agricultural and rural coverage appears to sit in line with the strategy of parent company, National World plc, of “providing compelling content for local communities, both consumers and businesses” reflecting a “greater sense of community awareness” and a commitment to “ensure our journalists and commercial teams are more connected with the local communities they serve.”
Agriculture, as you know, has a frontline role in Scotland’s economy and, in addition to the business news importance of your coverage, your readers benefit from fair and professional reporting of the many major, topical – and sometimes controversial – issues which relate directly and indirectly to farming and food production. These range from the impact of Brexit and the war in Ukraine (and the impact on food security and production in Scotland) to public scrutiny of red meat production and farm animal health and welfare. The sector’s roles in mitigating climate change and curtailing biodiversity loss have also moved centre stage in recent years, especially since COP 26 on Glasgow.
Scotland also has a track record as a pioneer on the global agricultural stage – from the introduction of Quality Assurance to an impressive stream of scientific breakthroughs, thanks to our country’s world-leading agricultural research organisations, including The Moredun Research Institute, just a few miles from The Scotsman offices.
There will be hugely important agricultural issues to be reported on in the coming months and years which relate to the prosperity, health, and wellbeing of all people in Scotland, as well as rural communities – from new Agricultural Bills to the impact of Land Reform and land ownership. It is vital politicians, business operators and your wider audiences who access The Scotsman news, continue to benefit from the facts via the quality and integrity provided by specialist journalists who understand farming and its wide-reaching impact in, for example, Scotland’s tourism industry and enhancing Scotland’s natural environment.
The National World plc strategy highlights the impact of the changes in your readers’ lifestyles in post-COVID times and, with so many people moving to work from home in rural Scotland, the interest in rural and agricultural life will surely continue to grow. This is not the time to stand down your farming and rural affairs coverage given that public interest in, and scrutiny of, agriculture and farming is increasing.
The following organisations are at the heart of Scottish agriculture. All have been consulted on this matter and respectfully, and urgently, ask you to continue to serve your audiences well and maintain, or enhance, the balanced, accurate and compelling coverage delivered by the dedicated farming section in The Scotsman.
We look forward to hearing from you.
(Signatories in alphabetical order)
Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland
James Hutton Institute
Moredun Research Institute
Quality Meat Scotland
Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland
Royal Highland Educational Trust
Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs
Scottish Crofting Federation
Scotland Food and Drink
Scottish Land & Estates
Scottish Tenant Farmers Association
Women in Agriculture Scotland