The Guardian’s views on the future of journalism

23 Mar

TODAY, as part of the Harris Lecture Series, UCLan students and staff were treated to a visit from Colin Hughes, the Managing Director of The Guardian.

Colin delivered an hour-long talk about his introduction into the journalism world, the Guardian’s liberal stance and importantly, he talked at length about quality journalism.

It was refreshing to hear a positive view on the future of journalism, but I couldn’t help but view it as a somewhat rose-tinted outlook.

Guardian News and Media (GNM) is reportedly losing £100,000 every single day, so it was astonishing to hear Colin talk so confidently about the future of journalism; and the future of the Guardian.

When Colin opened up to the floor for questions, he was quizzed on several topics.

Colin had earlier mentioned that the most successful, and profit-making part of the Guardian’s online package was their dating service, ‘soulmates’; and was asked if online news would be funded by these sorts of ventures.

He was unable to give a definitive answer on that matter, but confidently announced that all students’ in the room, “would not have their livelihoods funded by advertising”; an interesting stance, given the fact that The Guardian’s circulation figures were completely overshadowed by the London Evening Standard recently, a free paper.

I then quizzed Colin on the huge losses that GNM are currently experiencing, to which he couldn’t give a solid response. He said that due to “irresponsible reporting and hearsay, that people assumed that the Guardian was in financial difficulty”, despite it being widely-known knowledge that they are not in profit.

Colin then went on discuss the future of the Observer, claiming that “scrapping it completely is one of a number of possibilities.”

Another member of the audience questioned Hughes on pay-walls, and whether the Guardian would be using them. Colin claimed that using pay-walls would go against the newspaper’s duty to the reader and the community, as set out in the Scott Trust values.

He admitted that he did not know what was next for the Guardian, claiming they were “ttempting 40 or 50 low-risk gambles every year to try and crack the formula, and find the business model” to keep them in business.

Colin was also asked about Alan Rusbridger’s pay packet and whether he, or other senior members of the GNM team were willing to take cuts; to which Colin replied, “I don’t think they’d be very happy about that, would they?”

Needless to say, The Guardian, with somewhat uninspiring circulation figures, seem to remain chirpy nonetheless; I just can’t help thinking that somewhere along the line, something’s got to give.


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