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Guardian says money from readers has overtaken advertising as it boasts 500,000 paying supporters

By Freddy Mayhew

Guardian News and Media claims that more than 300,000 readers are now paying it at least £5 a month as supporters and members.

Added to around 100,000 print subscribers and 100,000 digital app subscribers this means around 500,000 are now making regular payments to The Guardian and Observer publisher.

Editor Katharine Viner has said that revenue from readers now outweighs advertising income, hailing it a “significant step” as she continues to marshal a three-year plan to turn the title’s finances around.

Last year it reported cash outflow of £67.3m spent on keeping the business afloat.

Guardian News and Media also revealed today that it received more than 300,000 individual, one-off contributions over the past 12 months from readers in more than 140 countries, resulting in revenue of several million pounds.

In a comment piece on the new figures, Viner steered away from putting up an online paywall, in line with other quality broadsheets such as the Times and Financial Times. “Instead, we want to remain a strong, progressive force that is open for all,” she said.

The Guardian said its focus is on growing reader revenues, with the goal of getting publisher Guardian News & Media to break even at operating level by 2018/19.

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The emphasis has now switched from a “membership” model to “supporters” who are asked to pay a minimum of £5 a month to help keep Guardian journalism free online. Membership has grown from 230,000 in July when the Guardian revealed its annual results.

Viner said advertising revenues “continue to decline” and that the likes of Facebook and Google were “dominating the digital ad space” while print advertising was also falling for most publications.

“Now more than ever, the world needs progressive journalism that is committed to facts,” she said.

“The most important relationship the Guardian has is with its readers, so we are encouraged and cheered by the hundreds of thousands of people supporting Guardian journalism.

“We must continue to earn our readers’ trust and support – which will be the bedrock of our future success and sustainability.”

David Pemsel, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, said: “Building deeper relationships with our readers has been a critical part of our three-year strategy and we are pleased with how this is progressing so far.

“We cannot be complacent, and we have much more to do.  Over the next two years we will continue to establish firm foundations which will secure the Guardian’s financial and editorial independence in perpetuity.”

Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

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