WEEKS after The Scotsman’s owners, JPIMedia, told staff that it was not involved in a “formal sales process”, the news broke that the company is currently in talks to break up and sell its assets.

Alongside The Scotsman, the group also owns the i newspaper and several regional titles.

In a statement a spokesman for the group said: “The board of directors has recently appointed a financial adviser to better assess the current and future prospects for the business and its titles.

“We believe that our industry is undergoing substantial change and we are not immune from the changing trends in news consumption and rise of digital news alongside the decline in print advertising and circulation.”

While it is not expected that The Scotsman will suffer as depressing a fate as many of JPIMedia’s smaller titles, any change of ownership brings with it uncertainty and instability.

READ MORE: Scottish newspaper staff saved by Johnston Press takeover

The Scotsman boasts some of the best journalistic and writing talent in Scotland. It is the home of the must-read Dani Garavelli, Gina Davidson and Joyce McMillan. In recent months they have attracted fresh Scottish talent. Laura Waddell may be a new signing, but her columns already feel well-established. Her writing is evocative and stylish, and The Scotsman editorial team must be delighted that they signed her up for a weekly column before others thought to.

But if the Scotsman isn’t short of exceptional journalists why is it staring at such an uncertain future? The Scotsman’s problems are exactly the same as those facing most newspapers on the planet: a business model that relies on advertising to subsidise the cost of a news-gathering operation no longer works.

Advertisers are generally more interested in online platforms than they are in print.

And readers are often reluctant to pay for news online when so much content is available for free.

Combine that with a reluctance among some shareholders to scale down their expectations of the return on their investment and you have a perfect storm which has been wreaking havoc for years.

The way the public consumes journalism may have changed, but our reasons for doing so haven’t.

As speculation grows over who the new owners will be, you get the sense that it doesn’t really matter all that much. Whoever is in charge will face the same problems as all newspapers. If they commit to investment cuts in order to please shareholders, then any rebranding exercise or relaunch will prove futile.

At a time when quality journalism is required more than ever, we see newsrooms short of resources and time.

Investigations, thoughtful reporting and comprehensive news coverage don’t come cheap. Newspapers have turned to different models to find the money to pay for that, but if income drops the temptation to cut costs is very often irresistible.

This paper, just like the daily National before it, confounded expectations simply by being launched in the first place. When even those newspapers with broad shoulders and a loyal readership are floundering under difficult market conditions, any new newspaper should have been doomed to fail.

There was certainly a gap in the market for The National and the Sunday National.

With nearly 50% of the population supporting independence, and only the Sunday Herald taking that editorial stance before it closed last year, there was an opportunity to offer readers fresh voices and a different perspective.

The 2014 independence referendum undoubtedly threw into stark relief an imbalance of perspectives in the media. I’d argue that this was a symptom of a wider problem, rather than simply an attempt to shut out pro-Yes voices.

The National:

The BBC came in for heavy criticism and still does. I understand that, for some, that trust will take a long time to win back – if it ever happens at all.

But we are seeing changes. The new BBC Scotland channel has some excellent political and news programmes. I’d urge those who haven’t yet given it a chance to do so SOON.

ITS documentary on the independence referendum was as fascinating as it was fair. While the new nightly news programme The Nine might be struggling to get the audience it was hoping for, it is well-made and has moved away from the parochial “fitbaw and a murder” format of the traditional Scottish half-hour.

It is internationalist and grown-up and a clear sign that the media is catching up with the demands of its energised post-indyref viewers.

It is astonishing that it has taken this long for Scotland to be given a political Question-Time-style debating show, but we have it now. While the format might be similar, Debate Night is as different from its sister programme as it is possible to be. The reviews – if not the viewing figures – have been positive from those on both sides of the constitutional debate.

So while it is in some ways an exciting time for Scottish media and journalism, the developments at The Scotsman suggest it is also fraught with risks.

When we look to the future of journalism in Scotland what do we see? Perhaps the more important question is: what do we want to see? In an age of multi-platform, 24-hour news, what do we expect from journalism, and in particular from journalism which is produced in Scotland, even if the newspapers in which it is printed are mostly owned outside the country?

Journalism is commonly hailed for holding the powerful to account. A healthy and thriving newspaper industry benefits democracy.

These days it can appear that journalism is under fire from both sides; from those who see it as a voicepiece for political campaigns with which they disagree and from powerful figures who would prefer a cowed media to a free press.

The US has shown that when you have a figure like Donald Trump in power, the political chaos that ensues can make it difficult to give the flood of initiatives and conflicts the detailed analysis it deserves.

With the likelihood of Boris Johnson entering 10 Downing Street in just a few short weeks, our media is soon to be facing similar challenges.

He will be both a gift and a curse for the newspaper industry, as Trump has been. With a cacophony of gaffes, lies and indiscretions likely to be a feature of Johnson’s premiership, it will be the job of journalists to cut through the noise and separate the important developments from the nonsense designed to divert public attention.

Over the next few weeks, while staff and freelancers at the Scotsman worry about their futures, it would be worthwhile to remember that in the current political climate we need more journalists keeping their eye on the ball, not fewer.

We need more genuine news stories and less online clickbait; more journalistic scepticism and less willingness to swallow PR manipulation.

And if individual journalists occasionally infuriate us, we cannot be blind to the important gifts the best journalism delivers.

There is a reason why Johnson – a former journalist himself – has spent his leadership campaign hiding from reporters. He knows that they are the last line of defence between a powerful egomaniac and the public. Journalism might be an inconsistent trade and newspapers an imperfect means of delivery ... but both are better than the alternative.