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Guardian: ‘This was not a redundancy announcement’

June 17th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Newspapers

Predictably, speculation about potential job cuts at Guardian News and Media (GMG) has been rife since yesterday’s announcement that the company was seeking to make £25 million in savings over the next five years.

The Telegraph reported this morning that a cull could go as high as 175 staff, and both the Independent and Evening Standard reported certain job cuts.

A spokesperson for GMG flatly refuted the number in the Telegraph article and told Journalism.co.uk today that yesterday’s statement “was not a redundancy announcement”. He refused to rule out job cuts, however.

“Yesterday’s briefing was not a redundancy announcement. We shared with staff our current position and a strategy to transform the organisation, and said we would work with staff and unions to achieve it. Of course no media company can rule out redundancies in the current climate, but we will talk to staff about issues like that first.”

Yesterday’s statement from GMG confirmed that the company suffered operating losses of £33 million in the last financial year and announced its newspaper titles the Guardian and the Observer would be switching to a “digital-first” strategy.

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‘Completely different ideas of size, scale, ambition': Rusbridger compares his paper with the Times

November 5th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Advertising, Business, Newspapers, Online Journalism

Mark Colvin of Australia’s PM radio programme has an interview up today with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. It focuses on the recent publication of figures from behind the Times and Sunday Times paywalls and finds Rusbridger as determined as ever to keep his paper free and champion open online journalism.

Comparing the Times’ new ‘slimmed-down’ online audience – which Rusbridger estimates to be about 30,000-50,000 users a month, against 37 million for the Guardian – he says the two newspapers’ digital operations now represent “two completely different ideas of size, scale and ambition”.

Perhaps the most interesting thing the Guardian editor has to say concerns the effect of the paywall on print sales, which he was expecting to rise when free digital access disappeared. The Times print circulation hasn’t plummeted since, but it certainly hasn’t shown significant gains: circulation fell by 14.81 per cent year-on-year in September, second only to the Telegraph and higher than the 12.3 per cent average for quality titles. August saw the Times’ average daily circulation slip below 500,000 for the first time since 1994.

As Rusbridger points out, the digital arm of the newspaper, rather than acting as a plain substitute which draws readers away from the print edition when free and drives them to it when paid, may serve to promote the whole brand. It may well act “like a sort of marketing device for the newspapers”, he says.

If you put a gigantic wall around your content and disappear from the general chatter and conversation about your content then people forget to buy the paper as well. So it’s a kind of double whammy.

Rusbridger continues to be one of the industry’s most vocal objectors to the paywall. As he says here, he believes that “the journalist organisations that are best placed to survive are the ones that are going to go with the technology rather than decrying it and fighting it”. To that end, his “overwhelming aim is just to keep on producing the Guardian in a form which will suit whatever technology people invent”.

Colvin asks Rusbridger about the Guardian’s increasing digital revenue – “we’re up well over 50 per cent year-on-year and last year we earned about £40 million”, Rusbridger claims – but not, disappointingly, about the paper’s tactics in any detail, its success at bringing in money in through affiliate projects for example. Tim Brooks, managing director of Guardian News and Media, landed a blow for the Guardian’s approach earlier in the week, putting the Times’ new paywall revenue in a particularly unflattering context: “We’re probably making more money from our online dating service”, he told the MediaPro conference.

No mention of the Guardian’s own losses from Colvin or Rusbridger though. Despite the paper’s continued growth of digital revenue and laudable approach to online journalism, they are still running pretty high.

Read the full interview at this link…

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Communicate.ae: Digital experiments at the Guardian – successes and failures

June 1st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

From earlier last month this Q&A with Mark Finney, head of client sales at Guardian News & Media, in which Finney explains some of the digital ‘experiments’ that have worked for the group and some that haven’t:

Guardian 24 allowed you to download stories scraped from our sites automatically over a number of different areas, and print them as a PDF. It was our way of trying to enter the London free newspaper market but get our readers to pay for the paper and the ink and not have to pay for distribution. It was an interesting thing to do, but it didn’t really work. Not many people did it.

Finney says the Guardian’s iPhone app experiment is paying off: “£250,000 is not going to change the face of newspapers, but it’s 100,000 people who have chosen to pay for an optimised version of my content.”

And on paywalls and registration models for Guardian.co.uk:

[Y]ou could pay for an ad-free version. It was a long time ago that we binned it. It was about £25 to £30 per year. We got something in the order of 2,000 or 3,000 people who did it. Only 2,000 or 3,000 people a year were prepared to pay £25 or £30 for an ad-free version of the Guardian, proving how little resistance to advertising there is.

Full post at this link…

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Media Guardian: ‘Massive reduction’ in GNM’s loss next year, says chief executive McCall

February 12th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Cost-cutting measures, including voluntary redundancy for around 40 editorial staff, will result in a “massive reduction” in Guardian News & Media’s (GNM) loss in the next financial year, chief executive Carolyn McCall told the Media Guardian weekly podcast.

The Guardian’s cost base is too high for the future revenues of any newspaper. If we don’t get our cost base in order someone else is going to do it for us.

In September, GNM managing director Tim Brooks said GNM was losing £100,000 a day and the group is seeking more than 100 job cuts across editorial and commercial operations.

McCall also commented on the sale of Guardian Media Group’s regional division to Trinity Mirror, acknowledging likely job losses amongst staff and papers and expressing surprise that Channel M was not part of the deal. GMG’s radio business is expected to be in profit this year, she added.

Full story at this link…

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Rusbridger’s Hugh Cudlipp lecture in a Wordle

January 26th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Newspapers

http://www.wordle.net/. Images of Wordles are licensed Creative Commons License.

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UPDATE: Guardian to cut 100 jobs; GNM running at £100,000-a-day loss

November 12th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Job losses, Newspapers

Following news that the Observer is to cut sections and drop monthly supplements, there were reports yesterday of more than 100 job cuts at owners Guardian News & Media.

The cuts will be made to offset losses as GNM is currently running at a loss of £100,000 a day, according to Brand Republic, and were announced following a strategic review of the group’s papers.

A voluntary redundancy scheme has been introduced and cuts will affect staff across commerical and editorial departments.

The Guardian’s print technology supplement, published on a Thursday, will also be cut and moved online-only, as part of the changes.

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GNM abandons the distribution of bulks

August 11th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

Guardian News and Media announced today that it will abandon the distribution of ‘bulks’.

GNM sold ‘bulk’ bundles of its papers to hotels and airlines for a nominal fee per copy to the businesses, but free to the readers. This sampling method was a way of tempting new readers towards the publications.

But bulk sales only contributed to a fraction of the Guardian and Observer’s overall sales figures compared to other newspaper groups, said a release from GNM.

“To a greater or lesser degree bulk sales are used by newspaper groups to prop up their ABC [Audit Bureau of Circulations] figure.  Yet their credibility in the ad community is low and for those affected by the recent investigation into airline bulks that credibility has been undermined further,” Joe Clark, GNM director and general manager, newspapers, said in the release.

“We are abandoning this practice in order to present a clearer, more honest picture of our sales performance to advertisers and to reinforce the quality of our product to readers.  The success of our subscription scheme has proved the value of rewarding loyal readers and prompted us to question the merit of subsidising a free copy for an occasional reader.

“In short dropping this traditional, and in our view, outmoded practice is a win-win move.  We hope that others will follow our lead.”

On Guardian.co.uk, Roy Greenslade celebrated the decision after a 10-year battle to convince the papers to drop the bulks.

“This so-called ‘sampling exercise’ was anything other than a way to ensure that, in a declining market, headline sales figures remained artificially high,” he wrote.

Over the past 10 years publishers have become increasingly aware that sampling had little effect on their sales.

As Greenslade reports: Trinity Mirror and Express Mirrors were the first to give up the practice, while News International never used bulks for its main titles, The Sun and News of the World, but did for The Times and The Sunday Times.

The Financial Times has also begun to lessen its use of bulks; whereas The Telegraph Media Group continues to use bulks to attract new readers, he adds. In addition The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday have increased their reliance on bulks.

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FT.com: GNM considers Observer’s future in digital age

August 3rd, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

The Financial Times isn’t the only site reporting on the future of the Observer, which according to inside sources could cease publication in its current format.

Roy Greenslade has a round-up of the speculation here (no inside track from the Guardian blogger, however, he says).

According to an FT source, Observer staff discovered a secret mock-up of a weekly news magazine carrying the title’s branding.

Last week owners Guardian News & Media reported a pre-tax loss of £89.9 million for 2008-9.

“They [GNM] came up with a similar plan to close us down five years ago, and it was fought off. This time it seems to be couched in terms of saving The Guardian, so you have to think it is much more serious,” a ‘senior Observer journalist’ told the FT.

Full story at this link…

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