I was reading about the politician Joan McAlpine MSP this morning and noticed that from 2000-2001 she was editor of the Scottish edition of the Sunday Times. I’ve never met a woman editor of either a national or a local in Scotland, including the editorialised versions of UK papers. So I’ve had a quick look and asked on Twitter. Thanks to folk who replied right away. Here’s what I have.

Rebecca Hardy edited the Scotsman for a year from 2000-2001. Margot Wilson edited Scotland on Sunday from 2001-2003. Lesley Riddoch, one of Scotland’s best known journalists, in 2001 edited a one-off edition of the Scotsman, called The Scotswoman.  Alongside Joan McAlpine, that seems to be it.

No doubt there are one or two from ancient history, I guess. There’s a single woman in this incomplete list, for example.

And are there any women local paper editors out there? I can’t find any, but maybe there’s been one at some time?

There seems to have been a moment just after the opening of the Scottish Parliament when newspaper owners and publishers tried to combine a change in the way their papers operated post-devolution with some new (!) thinking about gender. Three women were hired as editors. But that moment passed in a flash and Scotland’s editorships have reverted to the men-only rule. Those women above, who were then on a fast upward career trajectory, have all had successful careers – just not in newspaper editing.

None of this is to criticise the quality of present Scottish editors. They strike me in general as doing a pretty good job in difficult times for papers. But that isn’t really the point, surely?

There’s something terribly wrong here which needs to be fixed. And it really shouldn’t be that hard. There’s a big story running in today’s Scottish and UK papers which deals with an important subject with sensitivity and intelligence. The story extends from the work of the woman editor of Holyrood magazine, Mandy Rhodes. And of course super on-line publication Commonspace  has a woman editor; Angela Haggerty. Victoria Mitchell is the Press Association Scottish editor.

Just saying.




2 Responses to Men only. The Scottish newspaper editor club.
  1. Interesting point . must say it never to me until now. Though has got me thinking, perhaps the traits needed to be a successful editor , are an aggressive , domineering , bullying badgering , backed with intellectual rigour to win the argument. Men tend to prefer this style and women put off by it.
    Andrew Neill would for me be the epitome of a newspaper editome, no compromise and no in-between.
    Though it does impress me that Joan MaCalpine was the editor the Sunday Times.

    Newspapers seem to be in decline all over the developed world, replaced by the Internet, though we still need Journalists to write articles.

    I do wonder how many jobs there can be for Journalists and how many of them can get there work published regularly.
    Though I daresay the skills required to sift through data and make it presentable , or marshal points and put forward an argument , are skills sought after in many industries .

    I used to buy a newspaper every day, and devour the news, when I worked in Europe for many years, there were no British newspapers, and most Sundays involved a journey to the nearest big town and a purchase of a weighty paper, usually the Sunday Times or the Saturday version, a quick search for a pub, and then sit for hours, soaking up the detail.
    I always find it strange that I never seem to get the time to read a paper now.

    • Yep, its’ hard for the papers today. The exclusivity of male editors in Scotland is striking, though. Odd that it’s never covered in the papers……:-)


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