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The Big Issue

PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!

February 27th, 2017 by morven_gow | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!
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The Big Issue’s UK editor, Paul McNamee, took up tenure as Chair of the PPA Scotland on Wednesday evening (15th Feb) in Glasgow, in front of a strong gathering of over 100 people from magazine and newspaper publishing in Scotland.  At this special reception for the new Chair, Neil Braidwood of Connect Communications gave a lively introduction to McNamee as he handed over the reins used to guide the organisation for the last two years. In his acceptance speech, McNamee painted a vivid picture of himself when as a young man of potential, he was keen to get access to the world of publishing and communication.

Bringing the scenario up to date, he pinpointed what was wrong with the industry now – and echoed public statements and report findings produced by the book publishing industry, and indeed many other sectors including marketing and advertising.  He spoke passionately about the lack of diversity in the newspaper and magazine industry, the lack of young people joining the sector from less advantageous backgrounds. “If kids don’t have money behind them, you’ve got to put money in front of them,” he told us and our response was wholeheartedly positive. With the backing of the PPA Scotland, he wants to see the industry supporting disadvantaged young people who have potential and a desire to enter publishing.

Listening to him, I was reminded that in the late Seventies/ early Eighties, I was one of the last to benefit from a full grant for further and higher education, a luxury not available to many in the UK these days.  Now, if someone from a disadvantaged background does decide to become a student (taking on the psychological and practical burden of debt required to do so) and graduates in due course, they will frequently find that to break into their chosen business sector, they are expected to work for nothing often for long periods in the hope that this trial will end in paid-for employment.  Who can afford the luxury of an unpaid internship, where often not even travel is reimbursed? Only those already blessed with some degree of family financial support?  Is it right that entrance to the creative/ knowledge/ communication sectors across the UK can be based on an individual’s financial resource? Surely this must change or the work produced, whether in a newspaper, magazine, book, app or website, will become increasingly irrelevant to most of the population.

It is not wise to have a minority controlling cultural communication.  A monoculture does not reflect society and should not be imposed. Publishers of books, magazines and newspapers have a responsibility to ensure that all voices are represented.  Looking forward to seeing how the new Chair and the members of PPA Scotland tackle this initiative.

By Morven Gow

Links:

PPA news link to Paul McNamee’s Chair Reception evening

Guardian article: Penguin Random House – publishing “risks becoming irrelevant”

The Big Issue: latest issue on reading and libraries