Anyone who wants to invest in quality media and pay for newspaper journalism is worthy of commendation and journalists should not delight (too much) in troubles at a rival newspaper, even if they do not like the output. Journalism is under enough pressure as it is, after many of those of us in the newspaper industry stupidly decided 15 years ago to give away content online and hope that clicks would turn into ad revenue that replaced the income from print. It didn’t.

The mad experiment is impossible to imagine in just about any other industry. It is as though the supermarkets had responded to the challenge of online shopping by giving away all their stock for free in the vague hope that an alternative revenue model would turn up to fill the gap. How long would they survive?

It is in that context, in a spirit of wanting hackery to survive and prosper, with a few exceptions, that I make the following observations.

Sales of the The National, the Scottish newspaper launched during the “joyous celebration of democracy” that was the independence referendum in 2014 have plummeted almost 30% year on year.

The recipe in the National is a daily and highly partisan dose of “campaigning journalism” with SNP statements of condemnation about the latest Unionist outrage (disrespecting the Krankies or under-rating Hue & Cry’s first album) dressed up as news. The graphic treatment in print is, depending on your view, either strikingly innovative, or it looks like it is the result of a bad trip experienced at a student party the night before at the Glasgow Art School.

The paper had an insurgent and seemingly winning formula that was presented at the time by the SNP and its supporters as the birth of a new Scottish nationalist approach to media that would defy global newspaper trends. The National soared, it was claimed. It was accompanied by the rise of various independent online nationalist efforts, some of which are notably calmer and more reasonable in tone than the National. A few other online warriors offer crazed outlets for permanently angry nationalists in their pyjamas.

Now the National’s sales have collapsed. Did I mention that? In 2015 the paper sold an average of 12,124 per edition. In 2016 that fell to 8,496. That is not down to the publisher (Newsquest) stripping out so-called bulks (copies given away free to bolster figures) as there were no bulks in there in 2015, in line with Newsquest policy.

With Nationalists keen to talk up the supposed inevitability of a second referendum, and to claim that there is some great clamour for another vote when there isn’t, it is interesting that the National is tanking and is outsold by the Greenock Telegraph local newspaper.

Elsewhere, on my old paper The Scotsman and on the (Glasgow) Herald the situation is absolutely heartbreaking. Despite the valiant efforts of the editor and journalists, the under-resourced Scotsman is now under 20,000 – at 19,449 (with 11.7% bulks included in that figure). Sales are down 14.5% year-on-year. The Newsquest-owned Herald is on 28,872, with no bulks, down 10.2% year-on-year. The management of the Scotsman have savaged the place, abandoning the headquarters and slashing the staff.

I can remember as Scotsman editor thinking, naively, when the team was battling valiantly to keep the Scotsman sale above 70,000 that the relatively new Scottish Parliament would surely be worried, in terms of the democratic fabric, about the coming collapse of the indigenous Scottish newspaper industry. If not about the Scotsman, which was unpopular with many MSPs for being robust and pointing out that the Scottish education system was letting down the poor appallingly (we got that right), then at least they would be worried about the shrinking of other newspapers that were closer to the establishment consensus. Not a bit of it. It has suited the SNP in particular to have a steadily weakening indigenous press, perhaps because it means less scrutiny. It is only the English-based quality newspapers that have invested in Scotland and journalism. There’s an irony.