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article imageOp-Ed: Hope for real news? Guardian posts first profit in two decades

By Paul Wallis     May 3, 2019 in Business
London - In what may well be one of the few real turnarounds in classic news media, the Guardian has come out of the red on operating profit. It’s a big change, and it may well mean a good working model has been established.
The trouble with newspapers, particularly the mainstream variety, is that the old business models just don’t work. Even Rupert Murdoch has never claimed that his papers were profitable. The Guardian, after many crashes into expensive failures, seems to have found its way.
The Guardian is backed by a billion-dollar trust, the Scott Trust. That’s one of the reasons for its survival in a turgid couple of decades of hit and miss moves. Even so, the Guardian is obliged to run as a good viable business, not some sort of media pet of the rich and interminably tedious geriatrics that run global media. That hasn’t been easy.
The profit, explained
The profit isn’t huge. It’s £800,000 (UK pounds, about $1.2 million US). But after two decades of multi-million-pound meltdowns, it’s worth celebrating. The BBC has an interesting analysis of the profit, and a lot of background to explain why this is a major deal.
The critical points are:
• Despite much tripping over the furniture at great expense, The Guardian has found a comfortable operating niche.
• Staff sizes have stabilized, and the downsize was done humanely and voluntarily, not in the usual devastating Tyranno-cuts way.
• Guardian readers are receptive to making donations, including regular donations from the Australian readership and more article-based donations in the US.
• The projected operating loss for the period was £83 million, not a profit. The turnaround is that significant.
The newspaper from beyond the news media grave?
Unstated by the very neutral BBC is that this is the Guardian. The publication is one of the few news organizations not subject to the political whims of conservative owners. The Guardian also doesn’t have the boring, arguably insane, “everything must be polarizing” editorial style which has made so much news fake or attempting to be fake.
Let’s face it - It’s nice to read any news which doesn’t rely on telling you whether your or somebody else’s socks are socialist or not to get readers. Can’t wait for this primitive damn sector to shake off the political fleas and get back to simply reporting news.
Reader support is, therefore, a very important demographic. It’s fair to assume The Guardian’s other commercial revenue sources are also performing adequately, although there are no breakdowns of ad revenue, etc.
With a bit of luck, The Guardian may just have found a way forward for other independent news sources with a scalable model for news media of all kinds.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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