Stewart Kirkpatrick speaks about Caledonian Mercury – Scotland’s first online newspaper



By Oliver Farrimond

THE CREATOR of Scotland’s first online-only newspaper has admitted to suffering a “sleepless night” after a technical hitch meant that the site was accidentally launched early.

Stewart Kirkpatrick, 39, former editor of, also denied claims that the gaffe was a deliberate stunt to raise the eagerly-anticipated site’s profile.

The new venture – which is called the Caledonian Mercury after Scotland’s first ever newspaper – features high-brow news and analysis from a team of Scots journalists.

Mr Kirkpatrick said: “A technical glitch on another site led to the news of our existence going live a bit early.

“It just meant that we had a sleepless night, but in fact it’s worked rather well for us because we’ve had slightly more traffic because of that.

“In fact, some people are suggesting that it was deliberate – it wasn’t.”

Mr Kirkpatrick, who also runs web consultancy firm w00tonomy, also revealed that the site’s print edition will most likely be a quarterly product – and that it will not be free.

He also claimed that the print edition will be a “premium product” that people will “want to buy”.

The launch of the Caledonian Mercury has been the talk of many in the Scottish media industry leading up to its officially going live yesterday (Monday).

Among staff a number of journalistic heavyweights, including the Scotsman’s former foreign editor Andrew McLeod.

Also contributing to The Cal Merc – as it has quickly become known after its Twitter handle – is Rab McNeil, the popular political diarist and also a former Scotsman staffer.

Edinburgh-born Mr Kirkpatrick said: “The Caledonian Mercury is written by a series of specialists, each with a niche content area to fill.

‘Premium product’

“We’re getting strong indications from the comments on our site that those areas have not properly been served.

“We are still finalising the print product, but it will be a premium product that will be a gorgeous item to own, and it will probably be quarterly.

“It will not be free, it’s a premium purchase and people will pay for it.

“The website will always be free, but the print product will be something that people will want to buy.”

The site, which features a silver unicorn head as its emblem, currently consists mainly of written news and features, although Mr Kirkpatrick said that video and audio content were “on the radar”.

He said: “At the moment, we are primarily an in-depth text website with attractive imagery.

“We’re not going to experiment too much with video until we’ve got the text product completely right.”

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