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Torn Lappin continues our series on the Scottish Media by interviewing Magnus Linklater,the editor of The Scotsman, and concludes that what the paper needs is a good splattering.

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‘Dull, boring, parochial, there‘s nothing in it . . .‘ A swift straw poll of The List staff’s opinion of The Scotsman tends towards one conclusion: it is not the most exciting read in the world. As the paper heads inexorably towards its 46,000th issue, it could be facing the new 90s disease, the image problem.

Things were not ever thus. The Scotsman has a fine tradition of being respected and heeded in cultural, literary and political circles, and many a famous name has graced its pages. In the past it has managed to offer authoritative comment on national and international events, and at the same time keep in step with cultural developments within Scotland.

At the moment the paper seems to be in something of a rut. In an

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industry that, after decades of stagnation. has made wholesale changes in the last few years. The Scotsman has committed the cardinal sin of being slow. Slow to catch on to the trend for arts and leisure-based quality newspaper features. slow to move to high-quality printing. and slow to embrace the possibilities of colour. This cautiousness cannot in all fairness be attributed to the paper‘s editor Magnus Linklater. Since joining The Scotsman two and a half years ago (from Robert Maxwell‘s ill-fated ‘24-hour London daily') he‘ done his best to drag it into the 20th century, and attempted to raise the paper's morale. shattered after the strike that preceded his appointment. ‘A lot has changed since I took over,‘ he says. ‘I hope


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the paper has become more readable. more accessible to readers. We‘ve changed in appearance. it‘s got a more modern look and feel to it. it's become a bit tougher in its news coverage. a bit harder-edged. At the same time it's become less stridently masculine and has a greater appeal to women readers than before. I would like to think it reaches out to younger readers as well. and has become more user-friendly.‘

It‘s a bold statement. and one that does not seem entirely justified. The .S'cotsmun has improved since Linklater took over. although not necessarily in all the areas he claims. Linklater does seem to be trying not to commit himselro one path. When talking about the paper‘s plans he

continually qualifies his remarks:

The List 29June— lZJuly 199087