Betting the future of The Guardian on print would have been ‘truly reckless”, according to editor Alan Rusbridger.
Writing exclusively in the July edition of Press Gazette magazine, Rusbridger insisted the shift to a ‘digital future’did not mean The Guardian was turning its back on print, pointing out that its most of its revenues still come from its print edition.
‘I grew up in print and have had the most wonderful career in weeklies, evening and daily papers,’he said
‘I love newspapers. But it is extremely difficult to split an organisation’s attention equally between different media.”
Rusbridger insisted The Guardian’s circulation slide was in step with the general decline of the ‘quality market’newspapers – an annual drop of between 6-8 per cent – and that its market share had held at a relatively steady 17 per cent over the last few years.
But he added: “Extrapolate that overall market picture over the next five years and it would be a brave person who staked their money or future career on print carrying on as it has in the past.”
In May sales of The Guardian fell 12.5 per cent year-on-year to 293,053, while the number of unique browsers visiting guardian.co.uk was up 47.4 per cent to 49,176,766.
Digital income stands at around £37m in the year to April and is predicted to hit £47m this year. The plan is to double that figure within just five years.
Last week Rusbridger admitted the organisation needed to ‘lose significant numbers’over the next few years as the company looks to make annual savings of £25m by 2016, as resources are shifted from print to digital.
In his feature for Press Gazette Rusbridger reiterated how the paper needed to cut more out of the business.
‘We’ve cut costs, of course,” he said. “Our headcount (630 journalists) is in the same ball park declared by other comparable titles (Times 611; Telegraph 615).
‘We must, of course, get more cost out. But cost-cutting without some form of transformation is a very short-sighted move.”
Research commissioned by the newspaper showed only four per cent of readers expected news to be broken in print and that half read the paper in the evening instead of the morning.
Rusbridger added: “So our readers may well be ahead of us, demanding breaking news, source material, response and depth via digital and something more like Newsnight – a more tightly edited package that helps make sense of the day – in print.”
You can read Alan Rusbridger’s feature in full in the July edition of Press Gazette magazine