Donald Martin, Editor-in-Chief

In a digital world awash with fake news, deliberate distortion and dishonesty, the Scottish media has never been more important.

We deal in the facts, and we strive to meet the highest of professional standards as part of the most regulated press in the free world.

But sadly, we face two distinct threats.

Firstly that too many people – particularly online – are quick to undermine the trust and credibility of Scotland’s journalists. As I hope the TV documentary captured, the professionalism and dedication of our industry to provide clarity where there is confusion; transparency where there is secrecy; truth where there is dishonesty and right where there is wrongdoing, is nothing short of heroic.

In newsrooms across the country, journalists work long, long hours day and night to cover the stories that matter to their readers and communities.

READ MORE: Staff still determined their mission matters - TV review, The Papers, BBC1

Yet they do so in the face of an increasingly unforgiving and misinformed audience – one where there is a wilful misunderstanding of what journalism is and what journalists do and the prejudices and perceived grievances of the online gallery are carefully orchestrated.

It is often difficult to comprehend a society that values freedom and democracy but can so readily dismisses the value and role of a free press.

Of course, we get it wrong sometimes. But far, far less often than our critics would have you believe. As is apparent on screen, our journalists care deeply about getting it right.

Secondly, the pervasive impact of the tech giants on mainstream media.

READ MORE: Who pays for journalism? As we look to the future, someone will have to provide an answer that works

The Herald is, of course, an integral and trusted part of Scotland’s media but we are under threat from the unregulated world dominated by internet giants who spend fortunes creating algorithms to plunder our hard-earned journalism and advertising.

Regulating online publishers and holding them to the same standards is vital for truth and democracy.

As Paul Dacre, former editor of The Daily Mail, says: “The very life blood of the newspaper industry was being sucked out by an utterly unregulated, defiantly anarchic, arrogantly unaccountable, awesomely ubiquitous digital monster which regarded itself as above the law, churned out fake news, tried to rig elections, invaded citizens’ privacy on a cosmic scale, provided succour to terrorists and paedophiles, devastated our high streets, and, oh yes made billions but paid barely any taxes.”

READ MORE: Comment - Daily miracle in face of industry changes​

Truth and democracy costs and our politicians need to do more to protect the mainstream media at its very heart. Regulating online publishers and holding them to the same standards is vital for truth and democracy.

We are not competing on a level playing field.

Facebook, Google etc are free to publish what they want unfettered by the requirement to provide accuracy or truth.

READ MORE: Buzzing, sweary and the best place to be​

Our journalism is validated, and we are held to account either in law or under the Code of Practice, enforced by the industry’s regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

But that quality journalism costs and it is a burden we are shouldering whilst our content, revenues and markets are cannibalised by those same tax-avoiding giants. 

Partnerships where they are helping protect that journalism under threat is one solution, and we need to accelerate and expand current models such as Facebook’s community reporters.

However, ultimately the future of our industry lies in your hands, dear readers, and I implore you to purchase or subscribe to help us deliver the quality you deserve.