The Outlook is bleak as city ‘Pravda’ to be axed

Outlook is being axed
Outlook is being axed
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THE council newspaper dubbed Pravda for its unwaveringly positive coverage of city leaders will be axed, it was confirmed today.

City leader Andrew Burns said the controversial Outlook freesheet had served a useful purpose in the past but had now run its course. It has cost up to £200,000 every year since it was introduced in 2000.

A review will now be carried out ,with one plan being to fund local community newspapers using some of the cash saved from axing the title.

Councillor Burns, whose party first started the paper but have been staunch opponents of the title in recent years, said the final edition of Outlook, out next week, was only going ahead because of a contract with printers.

The paper had been likened to Pravda, the official organ of the Soviet Communist Party during the Cold War, during the last council administration because of the growing number of articles written by political leaders from the Liberal Democrat/SNP administration.

He said: “Outlook has served a good purpose in the past but it has run its course and we’ve instructed a brief review of the paper. At the end of that there will be new arrangements which will be going to councillors for approval in early autumn.

“Communications have moved on considerably over the last five or ten years and there’s lot of methods now of getting information out to residents and members of the public.”

Cllr Burns said new proposals were still to be drawn up but one move could be to hand funds to revive defunct community newspapers which folded because of a lack of funding while others would include online media.

The West Edinburgh Times, South Edinburgh Echo and the Gorgie-Dalry Gazette and among those which have closed in recent years. He said: “New media has completely transformed in the past ten years and we need to look openly about how we use these outlets along with traditional print outlets.

“Edinburgh is a big city and more often than not the information in Outlook was quite generic. Having much more localised information will be warmly welcomed.”

Tory councillor Jason Rust welcomed the news but was keen to ensure the replacement would be in the hands of local groups not council officials.

He said: “It’s right that Outlook be reviewed given the sum of money involved and the fact that many people, certainly in my ward, were often not actually receiving it due to distribution problems. In terms of the review it’s good as long as it supports community-based papers and not local Pravdas.

“When Labour dominated the city council when the first past the post electoral system was in place we found many of the local newspapers were Labour newsletters. “There are parts of Edinburgh with very successful titles including the Colinton Magazine, which is sponsored by advertising, and the Currie and Balerno News, and we may well be able to use their experience as a model.”