Rusbridger comes out with guns blazing on The Times, Independent and paywalls - Press Gazette

Rusbridger comes out with guns blazing on The Times, Independent and paywalls

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has sent a morale-boosting email to staff in the wake of the news that GMG chief executive Carolyn McCall is to quit the business for Easyjet.

In it he slams the reporting of The Independent and The Times and suggests that he has more of an open mind about Rupert Murdoch’s paywall strategy at News International than previously might have been thought.

Evidently it is a case of no more Mr Nice Guy at The Guardian. More evidence of this with the Guardian ad running in Press Gazette and elsewhere mocking The Independent’s new Russian ownership.

Here are some snippets from the Rusbridger email, which has been reported in full on Dan Sabbagh’s blog Beehive City.

On The Times:

“The Times managed to report with a straight face that Carolyn was leaving a company ‘in turmoil’. This is the paper which, together with The Sunday Times, has just declared losses of more than £87m; which has scrapped its G2 equivalent; slashed its news run and has a staff deeply divided over Murdoch’s gamble on pay walls. The Times’s print circulation is falling at exactly the same rate as the Guardian’s – but the Times’s web traffic is down seven per cent year on year while the Guardian’s rose by 22 per cent.”

On The Independent:

“The Independent – in the week in which the owners had to pay an ex-KGB Russian oligarch £9m to take it off their hands – showed a similar lack of self-awareness. The paper which started the ‘format wars’ with the expectation of catapulting over its rivals, now sells just 90,000 copies a day at full price… and has never made any secret about not really believing in the internet.

“The Indie has struggled on pretty amazingly over the years – in the face of precisely the same forces bearing down on us all. Can that pot recognize a kettle when it sees one?”

Paywalls and Murdoch:

“All journalists are self-evidently extremely anxious to discover the economic model which will be certain to sustain what we do and believe in. No-one in the world has that yet – not us, not Murdoch, not Arthur Sulzberger, not the Frankfurter Allgemeine or Le Monde. Insecurity often breeds anger, denial and a search for someone to blame. We are all doing the best to find the right model for what we do. It’s probable that there isn’t going to be a universally ‘right’ framework for everyone in future (eg advertising + circulation revenue = success). What’s right for Murdoch (with Sky as a digital subscription model in the background and infinitely deep corporate cross-subsidies) may well not work for us at GNM, and vice versa. There may be different models within one newspaper. We’ll all make some mistakes along the way. We can all learn from each other.”

Finishing on an upbeat note:

“The editorial future has the potential to be richer than anything any previous generation of journalists could have imagined. We can imagine it – and we are well on the way to achieving it.”

There’s more on The Guardian and the paywall debate on Peter Kirwan’s blog elsewhere on this site.



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