English newspapers in an independent Scotland

The Guardian | Billboard (A)
The Guardian | Billboard (A) by observista, on Flickr.
When I moved to Scotland twelve years ago, I had to find myself a daily newspaper to read. I tried out most of the broadsheets before settling for the Scotsman in the first instance, and later the Herald.

While I was still evaluating the newspapers, one of the easiest decisions was to discard the Independent and the Guardian, although they were my favourite UK newspapers when I still lived in Denmark. This was simply because they sold their normal edition here instead of producing a Scottish edition (like for instance the Times does), and the result was that they almost ignored the Scottish Parliament and the devolved policy areas from a Scottish perspective.

However, I had many English colleagues who were still reading for instance the Guardian after many years in Scotland. I guess they didn’t feel they had moved abroad, moving from one part of the UK to another, so why should they change their newspaper habits of a lifetime? The result was that their knowledge of Scottish affairs was minimal, however. They would assume the Scottish NHS worked in the same was as its English counterpart, for instance, or they would be utterly surprised at the differences in the education system when their first child started school.

Would my English colleagues have done the same if Scotland had been independent at the time? Would they really have moved to another country but not changed their daily newspaper? Would the Independent and the Guardian even have attempted to sell the London edition in Scotland after independence?

Basically newspapers fall into three broad categories in Scotland: (1) Scottish newspapers that are written in Scotland, such as the Herald, the Scotsman and the Record; (2) Scottish editions of English newspapers, such as the Times and the Sun; (3) English newspapers that aren’t changed for the Scottish market, such as the Guardian and the Independent.

Once Scotland is independent, the first group will of course continue as before, and there’s no reason why the second one would need to change their model fundamentally (although it’s likely they’d need to change more contents than they do at the moment). This is indeed what we see in Ireland, where for instance The Sun produces a local edition in Dublin.

However, what will happen to the last group? Will they start producing Scottish editions (e.g., the Scottish Guardian), will they quietly disappear from most shops, or will they just continue to sell their rUK editions in Scotland as if nothing has changed?

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