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In a mad start to May when international newsdesks have been smoking with the combined heat of wars, rumours of wars and ghastly natural disasters, it may be a comfort for some readers that the news editors representing them can remain focussed on local stories for local people.
It’s all very well having elephants in the room, to be studiously ignored for ever and a day but sometimes the sheer oppression of it all makes leaving the room altogether a much more attractive option.
Whether the elephant in question happens to be Israel, US imperialism, or the uneasy knowledge of historical western connivance in the whole sorry mess of junta-led regimes like the one in Burma currently allowing the people of its country to literally rot, the burden of helpless despair can result in an impulse to disengage from the lot.
At such times the sorry plight of humanity might seem so intractable and self-inflicted that the fortunes of endangered species other than our own might sometimes appear more worthy of care of attention. This is understandable, and there are countless local publications, special interest magazines, glossies and news “comics” available to provide a sanctuary of distraction for the world-weary.
Nevertheless I would expect a bit more gravitas from the The Scotsman. Although claiming to be “Scotland’s national newspaper”, and therefore presumably seeing itself as the preferred source of serious news information for the nation, it leads today on the Pandas from China coup, while the genocide by neglect unravelling in South East Asia comes in on page 4. This is an interesting juxtaposition of priorities, with survival being the theme in both cases, but it is the editor’s job to make a call based on a perception of what the target readership are most interested in and he presumably knows something that I dont.
The other coup, not the Edinburgh Zoo one, but the one involving silly men in masks and guns over in Beirut appears on page 22, copping marginally more space than the ad for Scotland on Sunday’s UEFA Cup Final souvenir pullout.
Now I have nothing against pandas, despite their Chinese credentials, and nor can anything be taken away from Rangers’ European achievement, but if the Scottish conversation with itself about political, broadcasting or any other sort of autonomy is for real, then surely the newspaper that claims to speak for, reflect and inform the nation as a whole should be seeking to put a bit more distance between itself and all the other tabloids.