Guardian Mulls Future

(Reuters) – THE GUARDIAN MEDIA GROUP is considering options for its Guardian newspaper, Observer Sunday newspaper and online publications as it faces the fact it will emerge from recession as a smaller organisation.

In a letter to staff written in response to media reports that the company was mulling closing the Observer, GMG’s chief executive said Guardian News & Media was conducting a strategic review and it was too early to say what the outcome would be.

‘When the economy recovers, so — to a degree — will our advertising revenues. However, due to structural change, these revenues will not be at the levels they were in the past,’ Carolyn McCall wrote in an email seen by Reuters today.

‘This inevitably means we will be a smaller organisation,’ she added. ‘A wide variety of different options, approaches and scenarios is being developed and will be considered.’

She said every aspect of GNM’s publishing strategy and titles would be examined, including the Observer, the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, which was first published in 1791.

Guardian Media Group, which is owned by the Scott Trust, last Friday reported a pretax loss of £89.8 million for its 2008/09 fiscal year, compared with a profit of £306.4 million the previous year.

GMG’s turnover increased slightly to £637.9 million, including its share of two joint venture companies.

The Scott Trust was created in 1936 to safeguard the Guardian’s journalistic freedom and liberal values. Its stated core purpose is ‘to preserve the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity.’ It does not mention the Observer.

Rival Sunday newspaper the Sunday Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, plans to launch its own dedicated website separate from, a spokeswoman for News Corp’s UK subsidiary News International confirmed today.

The Observer’s circulation was 410,000 in June, slightly up from May, according to Britain’s Audit Bureau of Circulation. The Sunday Times, Britain’s best-selling quality Sunday, also slightly increased its circulation to 1.2 million.

… (Press Gazette, 03/08/2009) – Why closing The Observer is a terrible idea

4 Responses

  1. As i say here it’ll be sad if the Observer is closed (the Observer and The Guardian were the papers I was brought up to read as a boy by my father) but my support for the Observer has lapsed in recent years

    • Warmly acknowledged as ‘the thinking man’s’ newspaper for over 200 years.

      It will be a very sad day for British Journalism if the Observer title is ever removed as the main component to our Sunday pre-dinner conversation pint down the local.

      I hope the Twitter campaign is successful in having the Guardian Media Group think again (and perhaps reconsider devoting precious resources to its ill-conceived plan for putting the Guardian’s archive online).

      Newspapers are supposed to be in the news gathering business; not competing with the software industry to establish yet another kind of interface to interrogate historical data (which can only be used by techies and those in control of their own domains).

      It is citizen journalists that need our industry’s support as local titles disappear, so that local issues can be publicised and debated by local communities. The public is not interested in an army of armchair bloggers analysing trends in historical data (no matter how interesting that might appear).

      The Guardian Group should keep to what it does best: collecting and analysing World and National News – and jealously protecting its world renowned titles during this recession.

  2. The Times, Telegraph and Observer. No Sunday is complete without them

    • Accompanied by roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, and the sound of leather on willow echoing off the church bell-tower by the village green. :-)

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