Edinburgh Evening News' 150th anniversary: In an age of fake news and disinformation, good journalism matters – Miles Briggs
Much as we celebrate wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and other personal milestones, we have a habit of reflecting on the durability of institutions and businesses, be those our local football team or favourite restaurant. Having just turned 40, I have been reflecting on my own life – readers will be pleased I haven’t quite started my mid-life crisis just yet.
It is with this in mind that this week we mark and celebrate the Edinburgh Evening News’ 150th birthday. Journalist Dan Rather once said: “Ratings don’t last, good journalism does.” Perhaps this explains the enduring success of the Evening News.
Its inception, to all intents and purposes, was in 1873. For context, it was born the year that the Heineken Brewery was founded and the year Napoleon III, the last king of France, shuffled off this mortal coil – although only a cynic would say the two events were linked. Founded by John Wilson, it merged with its chief competitor to become the Edinburgh Evening News & Dispatch in 1963, before returning to its original title four years later.
The EEN has covered events ranging from Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 to the re-emergence of the tram system in the Capital. It reported on the initial optimism of the First World War and detailed the role of RAF pilots based near the city in the war against fascism in the 1940s. It was there when Hearts and Hibs belatedly brought the Scottish Cup back to Edinburgh, in 1998 and 2016 respectively.
More recently, the paper has played an integral role in the community with its dedicated campaigning on important issues for the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians, such as the push for a new eye pavilion and the highlighting of the social care crisis, along with its stewardship of the Local Hero Awards in Edinburgh. The cornerstone of any local newspaper is its ability to strengthen communities and bring people together, which is what the Edinburgh Local Hero Awards have endeavoured to do by honouring those people who make Edinburgh and the Lothians what they are today.
Many of us depend on good journalism to inform us. We put a lot of faith into journalism, and demand transparency and honesty. As true today as it was decades ago, journalists are influential and can reach the hearts and minds of millions. In the case of the Evening News, it is fair to say that our faith has been repaid.
Good journalism matters. At a time when disinformation and ‘fake news’ has become the sad reality (especially within the growing world of social media) it’s crucial that our local news outlets provide us not only with up-to-date information, but accurate information too. Local newspapers and journalists are often best placed to hold public officials to account and provide an important outlet for local stories which need reporting.
With this in mind, I would like to commend the Edinburgh Evening News on its longevity and its commitment to the communities it serves. I’d like to pay tribute to the journalists, past and present, who have worked on the Evening News. With the loyalty and support of us all, we can make sure newspapers continue to provide news and entertainment for the next 150 years.
Miles Briggs is a Conservative MSP for Lothian