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~ ~ As a lad growing up at home in Scotland in the 1950’s and 1960’s, this newspaper, The Sunday Post, was the staple reading in our household each and every Sunday. Published by the D.C. Thomson Group, and printed in Glasgow, at one time it held the largest ABC (Audited Bureau of Circulation) figures of any newspaper anywhere in the world, when it was once estimated that it was read by no less than 95% of the Scottish population. Its popularity has declined somewhat since those halcyon days, but the latest ABC figures show that it is still a very popular newspaper, with an average weekly circulation of 1.6 million.
~ ~ So what exactly is it that continues to make this paper so popular with so many people? My own feeling is that right throughout its long history, it has never deviated for one moment from its traditional stance as a newspaper that stands up for and defends traditional family values. Its “style”, or the way in which its journalists are instructed to produce their work, is very much from what I would call the “cosy, fireside chat” school of writing. You wont find anything too heavy or pretentious in this publication, as it is designed to appeal to as large a cross section of the population as possible, and as far as is possible to also cross the “social” barriers between the different classes of readership. You are just as likely to find the Sunday Post in the homes of highflying professional people as you are in the homes of ordinary working folk. Believe me when I tell you (as a freelance journalist myself) that this is no easy trick to achieve, and for managing to do this so well for so many years the Sunday Post’s editors and owners deserve much credit and praise. That it also manages to put across a very right wing political agenda at the same time, without alienating its left wing readers, is truly amazing!!
~ ~ Its news coverage can only be described as excellent. If its happening in Scotland, you can be sure that the Post will have it covered, and usually with a “slant” to their story that all the other newspapers have missed. They seem to always concentrate far more on the “human angle” of a story, an aspect of writing that is sadly lacking today in many publications. (my opinion) They have weekly features on topical stories, both in the newspaper itself and in their weekly magazine. The magazine itself concentrates almost entirely on “lifestyle” articles and stories, such as fashion, gardening, home and leisure, etc. ~ ~ One of its favourite columns is “The Doc”, a weekly letter and answer column from their resident doctor on all matters medicinal. Another would be “Francis Gay”, a somewhat sentimental and soppy writer who nevertheless has a large and faithful readership, and who seems to write stories solely with the intention of tugging on his reader’s heartstrings. There is also a feature called “The Honest Truth”, which has been around since time began, and can also be fairly political in its agenda, but which remains as popular as ever. And yet another columnist is one of Scotland’s favourite TV presenters, Lorraine Kelly.
~ ~ Another strong feature of the newspaper is its truly amazing sports coverage. Soccer in particular really comes under the microscope, and the Post has an army of part time writers who report each week, in depth and at length, on even the most insignificant and obscure football matches in the country. Rugby, golf, motor racing, et all. You name it, and particularly if it has ANY kind of Scottish connection whatsoever, then you can be certain that the Post has it covered.
~ ~ And last but not least. Ah yes. How could we even mention the Sunday Post without referring to its two most famous comic characters? “Oor Wullie” and “The Broons”. “Oor Willie” is the perpetually young Scottish schoolboy, never dressed in anything except his favourite dungarees, and always sitting on his now famous upturned metal bucket. “The Broons” are a large and supposedly typical Scottish family, with Pa, Granpa, Maw, the Twins, Horace, and the Bairn. There are also two older brothers called Joe and Hen. Just why this feature is so popular is perhaps a bit hard to understand in the modern era, but at this stage both “Oor Wullie” and “The Broons” are both almost part of Scottish folklore. I know that as a boy their yearly annuals were always one of the first items to go on my “Santa” list. They seem to be ageless and to appeal to children (and adults!!) everywhere as my own little nine-year-old daughter loves them both, and she has never even lived in Scotland, and is as Irish as Guinness and Shamrock.
~ ~ I have lived in Ireland for twenty years now, but I still pick up my own copy of the Sunday Post each week (on a Monday) from my local newsagent, where I have it on special order. The simple truth is that it is as Scottish as haggis and heather, and loved almost as much. It is still a newspaper I read every week without fail.