Credit: "Police Scotland" by Ninian Reid on Creative Commons

A new Scottish magazine focusing on policing, crime, politics, current affairs and public policy will launch next month.

The 1919 Magazine will be completely funded by the Scottish Police Federation, the union which supports the majority of police officers in Scotland. Its editorial board is chaired by David Hamilton, who is also the chair of the federation. Even the publication's name is a reference to the year the Federation was founded.

Despite the niche topic, the magazine aims to have a broader appeal.

Gemma Fraser

"The general public has an interest in crime you can see that by the number of true-life crime stories that are on TV," says Gemma Fraser, head of content at 1919 Magazine.

"It affects their everyday lives so we want it to be read by as many people as possible."

A crime magazine funded by a police federation is a tricky territory to navigate for an editor concerned about journalistic independence, especially when covering highly charged political subjects like a potential second independence referendum.

However, Fraser, who previously worked for Holyrood Magazine, said editorial content will not be shaped by the funders.

"The Police Federation is a trade union, they don’t have that experience of the editorial content that we do," she says, adding that the editorial team is made of seasoned journalists dedicated to values, such as accuracy and impartiality.

They will also offer freelancing opportunities as they recognise that self-employed journalists have to deal with increasing pressure and knockbacks. This is especially true during the pandemic as many staffers became freelancers after being made redundant by larger publishers.

Another member of the editorial team Adam Morris pointed out that the media landscape is still quite traditional in Scotland, with the major magazines, papers and broadcasters dominating the market just like in "the rest of the UK."

He added that very few have "really cracked the new media concept yet" and he hopes to straddle the line between traditional journalistic values and a visually appealing digital publication.

As far as the format is concerned, the team wants to replicate a physical magazine, including a feature allowing readers to turning the ‘pages’ on the website.

To grow engagement, the magazine will largely rely on exclusive content and word of mouth.

"The good thing about an organisation like the Police Federation is the access they’ve got to hugely interesting people and really powerful people. It will get to the stage hopefully where everyone knows when the magazine’s coming out each month and will be waiting for it," says Morris.

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