The Reading Room

Guardian coffers run dry

I thought the Guardian Media Group (GMG) had a limitless supply of money all thanks to the Scott Trust which was created in 1936 to safeguard the paper’s journalistic freedom and liberal values. A couple of years ago Guardian Media Group even invested in swanky offices near Kings Cross and a new Berliner format for the paper. They spent like an Emperor and gave off the impression that they had piles of gemstones hidden in some vault under the Kings Cross station. But now we understand this is all wrong according to the unaudited results for the year to March 31 2011. GMG’s subsidiary GNM lost £33m – following a £34m loss the previous year. Turnover fell from £221m to £198m.

It is understood that GMG chief executive Andrew Miller said the group could run out of cash in three to five years, if the business did not change. He announced a series of changes to counter the loss, including prioritising digital over print. The strategy is planned to double digital turnover to £91m from £47m by 2016. Other plans to save the business include saving £25m over the next five years, which would release funds to be reinvested, and a redesign of the weekday Guardian, which could see the title move away from breaking news and focus more on feature-led content.

Why didn’t GMG start this strategy earlier rather than spend money on big wasteful projects? This is the question that talented Guardian journalists that could lose their jobs over the coming months maybe asking themselves. PS

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