21st November 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Not an image I recognise (Alan Skinner)

, by , in Readers' Views

Despite the way that the Promote Shetland contract has been mishandled, I applaud Shetland Islands Council’s efforts to move the goalposts, to include attracting people to live, work and be educated here, in addition to attracting tourists.

However, I think we need to think carefully about how we portray ourselves.

My wife and I moved here seven years ago and despite the fact that my wife has deep family roots in the community, and had been a regular visitor to Shetland for 50 years, we still accessed the Promote Shetland website every day, to check out the webcams, and subscribed to The Shetland Times. I think this is what most prospective residents would do.

Reading today’s edition of your esteemed newspaper, within the first seven pages I read about the following – council offices evacuated for nine months, knives taken off five pupils, a warning that centralisation of air traffic control could be fraught with danger, diver jailed for rape, 17-year-old driving at 90mph, heroin supplier jailed, tens of thousands of indecent images of children on a computer, a nine-year-old girl assaulted, man behaving with knife in threatening manner, and father and son involved in assault on a man.

I appreciate that part of the role and responsibility of The Shetland Times is to report detail on local crime, to local people, but I am concerned about what image this, admittedly accurate, reporting creates for potential residents. It is certainly not an image that I recognise of Shetland.

Alan Skinner
New House,


  1. James J Paton

    I fully endorse Mr Skinner’s observations and comments, as an enthusiastic exile.

    Perhaps more positive and good news story leads in the first three – four pages, with the ‘bad’ news relegated to inside back pages, before the sport – which is always uplifting – me be a way to go.

    Increasingly in a digital news age – fake or otherwise – many new independent publishing outlets are appearing with positive and good news. Both Positive News and Good News are excellent UK and international sources of ‘the good stuff’ humanity is up to.

    Coming home in July, should I be afraid to?

    • Malcolm Henry Johnson

      I have already contacted The Shetland Times and asked them to print any bad news stories in a smaller font. This would be particularly effective in persuading older people to move here so we would benefit from the experience they bring. I have also asked them to include more pictures of sunsets and fluffy kittens. In addition, the photos they publish of the Northern Lights could do with a little bit more work on Photoshop, just to ensure that potential visitors know what to expect.

      I do partly agree with Alan’s comments: If, like THOUSANDS of Shetlanders you are struggling at the lower end of the income bracket, the image of life in Shetland presented by The Shetland Times and Promote Shetland must indeed be hard to recognise. Maybe The Shetland Times editors could be sent to North Korea on a training course. Their papers don’t contain any bad news at all and as a result, everyone wants to move there.

  2. Andrei Melnikov

    As a foreigner who has been reading news from Shetland for a few years, I fully agree that the percentage of criminal news in Shetland Times is exceedingly high and is in a striking contrast with what you read in the news from Orkney, Faroes and other small island communities.

  3. Eric Burgess-Ray

    I retired to Unst from England, after working throughout Europe and the Middle East, seven years ago. Of course the Shetland Times covers all the drug crimes that lead to prosecution, and reading about that each week has convinced my wife and I never to move to Lerwick.

    It seems to me the police are very active and successful in Lerwick, and if they came to Unst they would die of boredom. The best part of living in Unst is the lack of fear of crime – I find that everyone is law-abiding, strives to do the right thing and help their neighbours.

    Of course ‘crime’ can be found everywhere, but I feel that the Shetlanders in Unst keep it at bay because everyone knows everyone here and us ‘outsiders’ are impelled to help and support a community that helps us. For my wife and I, Unst is the land of milk and honey, and long may it be so.

  4. Ian Tinkler

    I think sanitising the media to give “a nice” perspective of our community is the stuff of utter stupidity. We do have considerable problems from drugs on Shetland among such things as youth isolation and alcohol related crimes. Domestic abuse is present with all the other problems of isolated communities.
    It is indeed the duty of a free press to highlight such problems. I congratulate The Times on doing just that. Of course, ignorance is bliss, but that will do nothing to address and face up to our problems. To bury our collective heads in the sand or where the proverbial sun does not shine is an act idiocy.

  5. Ian Tinkler

    Further to my previous, the latest figures! “The scale of drug-injecting going on in Shetland these days, mainly of heroin, can be guessed at from the 506 needles or syringes that are given out every week to users, a total of 26,312 items in 2009/10, up from 21,154 in 2008/09. (09/08/2011 , Shetland Times)”
    I feel the reason no more recent figures are available is that the powers that be are already sanitising Shetlands drug problems. A stupid move that allows things to get worse.