The Guardian dosen’t make much money from me any more. It’s a long time since I last bought a copy. I used to have it delivered, but when I moved house in 2007, I couldn’t find a local newsagent who delivered, and so I stopped. My main newspaper reading time was over breakfast, so picking up a copy later in the day didn’t really work for me. I used to pay The Guardian for an ad-free version of their website, but they stopped offering that service some years ago now. I paid for their tablet app for a while, but didn’t really get on with it, much preferring The Times app.
I carried on reading The Guardian via the website for a long time after I stopped buying it. But, over time, almost all of the writers I cared to read retired, took redundancy, or moved into management roles in which they rarely write. At the same time, they started giving writers of amusing features by-lines on actual news stories which they seemed woefully under-qualified to cover. They also reduced the pagination by cutting sections I enjoyed, and churned out ever-more frustratingly ill-informed comment pieces. And so, these days, I rarely even read The Guardian.
Oh, and they also pissed me off by cancelling a Guardian Masterclass at the last minute, after I’d paid for non-refundable travel to London. I know these things happen sometimes, but it was frustrating, and I was sorely disappointed at the lack of understanding and compassion on the part of the company.
Despite my frustration with it, and the fact that I rarely even engage with it, I still care for The Guardian, and would still very much like to see it find a profitable and successful place in the world. As a result, I was interested to read Ken Doctor’s discussion of The Guardian‘s new “known” business strategy, published in February over at Newsonomics. It’s a fairly unique approach in the newspaper industry, and I wonder to what extent it can succeed.