Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

The Scotsman begins 200th anniversary celebrations

The Scotsman Image copyright The Scotsman
Image caption The first edition of The Scotsman was published in January 1817

The Scotsman newspaper is marking 200 years since it published its "prospectus", which set out the ambitions and values of the title.

The paper declared in 1816 it had "not chosen the name Scotsman to preserve an invidious distinction, but to rescue it from the odium of civility".

As part of the celebrations, editors have invited 200 members of the public to become columnists.

The first edition of the paper was published in January 1817.

It was founded by lawyer William Ritchie and customs official Charles MacLaren.

The Scotsman is planning a year-long celebration which will dig into the newspaper's archive to see how it covered momentous events of the past 200 years.

On Wednesday, it published an eight-page supplement which reproduced the original article written by the paper's founders.

Former editor Magnus Linklater said the paper had been launched with a "tremendous statement of its principles" that challenged the London-dominated media landscape of the early 19th Century.

He told BBC Radio's Good morning Scotland programme: "That was the mood in which it was launched... to stake out a Scottish newspaper at a time when most of the media came from London and had a very much British perspective.

"This was a newspaper set up with a Scottish voice."

Image copyright The Scotsman
Image caption Charles MacLaren (L) and William Ritchie founded the Scotsman in 1816

Mr Linklater said The Scotsman had also upheld the principles of devolution from the 1870s when William Gladstone ran his Midlothian Campaign.

"From that time on the Scotsman stood for devolution, left-of-centre liberal principles and I think it still holds those today," he said.

In line with other UK newspapers, The Scotsman has suffered a decline in circulation. It once sold more than 100,000 copies a day, but recorded an average circulation of 22,740 in February 2016.

"I feel very sad about it because when I was editing it, the circulation was around 90,000. It outsold all the other British papers and you couldn't say that today, but I'm afraid it's just been a victim of circumstances," Mr Linklater added.

"I think and hope it will survive."

Image copyright The Scotsman
Image caption The Scotsman's newsroom in 1948

The paper's original premises were at 257 High Street on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. In 1860 the title obtained a purpose-built office on Cockburn Street.

It now has its headquarters on Queensferry Road in the capital.

Ian Stewart, who has been editor of The Scotsman since 2012, said: "Today is a very significant milestone in the history of The Scotsman newspaper, and the special supplement published in today's paper gives a taste of the history that has passed since our first edition on 25 January 1817.

"Marking the occasion with this special supplement is the perfect way to kick off celebrations, as we look forward to showcasing the best of The Scotsman's past editions, and also begin the search for 200 new voices to bring to our pages to better reflect the vibrancy of modern Scotland."

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