The Guardian will lose staff as digital transition continues

The Guardian | Paid Content

Digital advertising and digital revenues are up at Guardian News & Media, which publishes its namesake paper and The Observer. But circulation and print advertising are down, and the company's "investment in digital" means it'll have to reduce its headcount, Editor Alan Rusbridger and Guardian Media Group CEO Andrew Miller told staff this week. The company's looking to save £7 million (about $11 million) by eliminating 70 to 100 "journalist redundancies," between 11 and 15 percent of its current workforce, Dan Sabbagh reports:

In a briefing for staff, Rusbridger said the Guardian and Observer – collectively Guardian News & Media (GNM) – "will be smaller" and that the newspapers "will do less, less of what's called commodity journalism, so that we can do more on our core purpose and the type of journalism that we're here to do."

In an email, a spokesperson said the company will release its annual report in August, but that revenue was essentially flat, dropping £2 million from 2011 to £196.2 million (about $306.5 million). The company's financial year ended on April 1. Its plan to install "open journalism" at its papers and invest in digital growth will be "funded by a determination to cut our cost base to a level that, by the end of the five-year transformation programme announced in 2011, is sustainable in the long term," the spokesperson said.

"So GNM has to go on shedding staff in what is now an extended restructure," Robert Andrews writes in Paid Content. It will seek voluntary departures. As Nicky Woolf wrote in the British edition of GQ earlier this month, the Guardian's agreement with Britain's National Union of Journalists states that even one forced layoff would trigger "an immediate strike ballot."

In that piece, an unnamed former Observer journalist told Woolf: "...with voluntary redundancies, you lose people who are in a good position to get jobs elsewhere. You don't lose the people who you really need to lose."

Earlier this year, Rusbridger took a voluntary pay cut. This same time last year, Rusbridger warned that the digital transition would lead to a "significant" staff reduction.

The Guardian's United States operation has an audience of about 20 million unique visitors a month, the spokesperson said.

Related: New Guardian digital focus to center on ‘open journalism on the Web’ | New Guardian blog puts readers next to editors as stories unfold | Guardian readers shape stories during first week of open budgets

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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