CABLE magazine, the only Scottish media outlet dedicated to international affairs, announced last Wednesday the decision to halt publication for the foreseeable future. Citing financial difficulties as the reason behind this decision, the absence of CABLE leaves Scotland with very little opportunity for internationally focused news and analysis.
Launched in July 2017, CABLE was formed by freelancers and academics, some of whom had links with the Scottish Global Forum. With a core editorial team of 5, and contributions from a wide range of journalists, academics and foreign affairs analysts, for 11 months the team provided high-quality international affairs content on a shoe-sting budget.
Their first issue addressed topics ranging from Greenland’s relationship with the EU, the fight to retake Mosul from Daesh, through to a history of Scotland’s international climate change diplomacy. CABLE’s mission statement describes the team as “eclectic in its outlook. We’re interested in everything from trade, development, and energy issues to diplomacy, human rights, and conflict.”
“As a Scottish publication – based in Glasgow – each edition of CABLE carries features which may have particular interest for a Scottish readership. However, our global focus and network of international contributors ensures that we also cover issues from across the world. CABLE is aimed at anyone with an interest in international affairs.”
Despite a large monthly readership and following on social media, CABLE did not manage to attract sufficient investment to continue publication. The site did not implement a paywall, meaning readers were not required to pay for any of the content, and their efforts to attract financial backing from potential partners proved unsuccessful.
David Pratt, contributing editor for CABLE and contributing foreign editor for the Herald, was candid about what he thinks is needed to keep independent journalism viable in Scotland: “it’s time for those with deep pockets and political vision to step up.”
The decision to halt publication attracted statements from across Scottish media and politics. Angus Robertson, former depute leader of the SNP, wrote: “Very sorry to hear the news. We need an internationally focussed media perspective on our neighbours and the rest of the world from Scotland. Thanks for all the efforts and excellent reporting.”
As of this month, Scotland has no dedicated international affairs outlet. Questions are now being asked about how independent, non-partisan media can be funded in Scotland, without resorting to advertising or restricted access.
David Leask, chief reporter for the Herald, addressed the disparity between words and actions when discussing the reporting of international affairs in Scotland. Shorty after the announcement that CABLE would cease publication, Leask wrote: “We navel-gazing Scots should maybe tonight ask why so few of us click on foreign news even as we slap each others' backs and tell ourselves how cool European and cosmopolitan we are. Cable gone.”