Is the Guardian ship sinking? Austerity, retrenchment & the Alan Rusbridger-style 1% (Updated)

The Guardian’s self-righteous condemnations of the UK government’s austerity measures, budget cut-related retrenchment and layoffs, have been relentless.

However, the pressures of the Guardian’s continuing financial decline may force the liberal paper of record to make some difficult – and politically inconvenient – decisions itself.

The Guardian circulation had dropped to just 229,000, and is now ranked a pitiful 12th in print circulation among UK dailies.  

A recent report in GQ, which suggests that the Guardian’s financial problems may eventually force them to suspend operations, sheds more light on the paper’s woes.

GQ reporter Nicky Woolf wrote:

“The Guardian and Observer – not the Guardian Media Group, just the newspaper division – reported losses of £61.2m in 2008/09, £57.9m in 2009/10 and £43.8m in 2010/11, meaning that it loses not far shy of £1m a week.”

The Guardian will fold before the last of the [phone-hacking] trials,” says Kelvin MacKenzie, a former editor of the Sun. “I mean, they’re in big s***. Basically, the thing’s going bust.”

Woolfe added:

“The only option this leaves is an expensive voluntary redundancy programme, and as the former Observer reporter says, ‘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.'”

The quote by the former Observer reporter continues:

There are quite a lot of people there who don’t do an awful lot of work; a lot of slightly disappointed people who’ve been shunted into special-project-type roles. There’s someone there whose full-time job is ‘making sure that we live our values‘. I mean, I’m left of centre, but when you’re presented with someone with that job [description], you do kind of think, ‘Oh, God.’ In a business that’s losing £1m a week, can they afford this?

Evidently they can’t.

In addition to the 250 Guardian staffers who have taken voluntary redundancy since 2009, Guido Fawkes has just reported the following:

“Alan Rusbridger “is getting ready to declare that cuts are“essential”. No, not to the size of the state or the spending budget, but to the ailing Guardian Media Group.”

 Fawkes adds:

“A staff meeting is scheduled for tomorrow with managers set to beg more editorial staff to take voluntary redundancy before the axe comes out…”.

Oh my.

I wonder if Rusbridger will take one for the team and – in the spirit of making sure the Guardian “lives their values” – voluntarily reduce his own extremely generous 2012 compensation package of £605,000 per year? 

At least, perhaps, Rusbridger may be forced to take a slightly less expensive summer vacation this year; one not associated with the proverbial 1%.

UPDATE: Again, per Guido Fawkes:

“Andrew Miller, Guardian Media Group CEO, is leading the group counselling sessions today (July 17) for the doomed Guardian hacks losing £100,000-a-day”:

From: Andrew Miller

To : bcc: all.notes.users

As you know, today Alan and I are hosting all-staff briefings in hall one downstairs.

Please check with your department coordinator which session you are booked to attend – they start at 10.30am, 12.45pm, 2.45pm and 5.00pm and will last just over an hour each.

A couple of points to note: please arrive 5-10 minutes before your scheduled session – latecomers will not be admitted into the hall after the session has started. Also, food and drink is not permitted in hall one so you will be asked to leave any refreshments outside.

Your feedback is really important to us. There will be an opportunity to ask questions during the sessions, and we would also like to invite you to share your comments and questions on the noticeboard next to the canteen throughout the day.

If you would like to share your feedback or questions with us confidentially, please email transformation@guardian.co.uk

Andrew

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