I was on the staff of Scotsman Publications from November 2000 to January 2014, initially as deputy arts editor of the Scotsman, then as arts editor, then as group arts editor of the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday. I continue to work with them on a freelance basis as Edinburgh festivals editor – running the busiest festival desk at the biggest arts festival in the world, and producing the annual Scotsman Fringe Awards – and an occasional contributor of features.
Why did I leave? Because newspapers are, increasingly, no longer a happy or creative place. Even before I left, space for arts coverage was being cut back by the year, budgets reduced, and freelancers let go. I’d gone from editing two magazines per week, plus daily pages and one-off publications, to just a few pages hidden at the back of the newspaper and often barely promoted. The only time of year when the newspaper continues to run any substantial amount of arts coverage is the Edinburgh festival.
Still, it was good while it lasted, and I got to interview quite a few musical heroes: Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout, St Vincent, Paul Buchanan of the Blue Nile, Laura Veirs, Bill Drummond (twice), Jane Siberry, Magne Furuholmen of A-ha, and Patrick Fitzgerald of Kitchens of Distinction (also twice).
Over the years I’ve written hundreds of features, interviews, columns and opinion pieces for the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday. The website isn’t very good at archiving stuff so most of them are no longer online, but some of my weekly columns are still there, and here are ten more recent pieces that I was quite pleased with, and which (at time of writing, at least) are still floating around the internet…
2. Instead of exposing racism, is Exhibit B complicit in it? (thinkpiece on the controversy surrounding Brett Bailey’s ‘human zoo’. August 2014)
3. Loki: Vote No, get this (profile of Scottish rapper, October 2014)
4. Interview with artist Kirsty Whiten (January 2012)
5. Jerry’s map (profile of hobbyist turned conceptual artist Jerry Gretzinger, December 2013)
6. Camille O’Sullivan on a decade at the Fringe (interview with the Irish singer and Edinburgh festival star, August 2014)
7. Moray arts budget cut is a flawed party line (a polemic, February 2013)
8. An event unlike any other awards (a rapidly written arts diary that was shared more widely – and gleefully – among Scottish artists than just about anything else I’ve written for the Scotsman)
9. The Miley Cyrus Dilemma (a column on men and feminism)
10. Walter White is Dead, long live Carrie Mathison (on Breaking Bad, Homeland and anti-heroes)