Over the last 15 years over a third of Scots have stopped reading printed daily newspapers. Literary pages have been a casualty of cuts in many of these papers and yet book publishing is alive and well and healthy, with more books published than ever before.
At a time when we have never needed criticism more are our critics losing their voice? Look again. The literary pages that remain are robust and must be cherished. In Scotland we are fortunate with the pages in The Herald, The National and The Sunday Herald and The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday (fewer in number but still there). We have our own Scottish Review of Books, much loved by our readers, and other occasional literary reviews. Regional press including (but by no means only) the Press & Journal and the West Highland Free Press offer regular coverage.
New platforms for criticism are appearing and print media critics are enjoying a new audience. Critics with many years of experience of print and broadcast journalism are making the transition to online spaces – whether they be digital visitors or inhabitants, or indeed commissioners, writers or managers – with instant access to the public. Many of the online voices sharing in this vital exchange are new or newly liberated from more traditional platforms. They have something to share. Something fresh and fun in their approach. But online content is often unedited and unaccountable. Does that matter? Or will the intelligent reader seek out the criticism they want to read?