Someone arrived on the website the other day to ask: “Is The Press and Journal still published in Aberdeen?” The answer wasn’t available directly here, so let’s put that to rights now.
It depends on understanding the difference between printing and publishing. A newspaper is printed wherever the presses happen to be. It is legally published, however, at the office of its parent company. Occasionally, those two places can be miles apart.
If you take the view that Aberdeen Journals Ltd. is the parent company, then, yes, The Press and Journal is still published in Aberdeen. If you take the view that the parent company is the company that ultimately owns Aberdeen Journals (Dundee’s D.C. Thomson), then The Press and Journal is now published in Dundee. Take your pick. I can still argue that the paper is published in Aberdeen.
What is not in doubt is that The Press and Journal and Evening Express are not printed in Aberdeen any more. That stopped in early May, 2013, when all printing shifted to a hugely expensive new printing plant in Dundee and the Aberdeen presses were dismantled. This new printing plant in Dundee also prints The Courier, the morning paper for Fife and Tayside, and Dundee’s evening paper, the Telegraph.
The move happened purely for financial reasons: it is cheaper to concentrate all of a newspaper company’s printing on one huge site.
It might be cheaper, but it is journalistically poorer and has not been without its problems. Emotionally, the move ended three centuries of newspaper printing in Aberdeen. Of more sober concern is that the papers are now printed in Dundee, 70 miles from Aberdeen, and ferried north by road.
This extra 90 minutes necessary to allow for transporting them the extra 70 miles means that most printing deadlines for the papers have to be 90 minutes earlier than they used to be. In turn, this means that the news which readers are getting is now 90 minutes staler than it used to be.
The Press and Journal used to pride itself on having news that was five hours newer than everybody else. Hoardings all over the northern half of Scotland used to advertise exactly that.
This was because the distance that other papers had to travel from Down South meant that their printing times had to be much earlier than The P&J’s if they were to reach newsagents in time for delivery boys and girls to do their stuff before going to school.
Those papers often missed late-night or wee-sma-oors news which The P&J was able to carry because it was printed locally and later. Aberdeen Journals publications are now in much the same boat as everyone else and have lost a major selling point.
Huge banners now hang outside the paper’s HQ trumpeting “FOREVER ABERDEEN” which, to me, smacks of public-relations panic. It’s as if the boardroom is terrified that the readers think the Aberdeen connection is weaker (which, of course, it is). Only a dope would try to kid you that everything is as strong as it used to be, if only because so much has been decanted 70 miles away to Dundee, especially the printing.
As for those “Forever Aberdeen” banners, in the name of honesty, someone really should add underneath (but printed in Dundee).
Can you tell that I’m feeling sad about my journalistic alma mater?