From the Nieman Journalism Lab’s week in review:
The Guardian’s digital leap: The Guardian has long been one of the top newspapers on the web, but this week, the British paper announced a major step in its development as a digital news organization with a transition to a “digital first” operation. So what exactly does that mean? Essentially, that the Guardian will pour more of its resources (especially financial) into its digital operation in an effort to double its digital revenues within the next five years.
Like at many papers, the Guardian’s print side is sagging severely. According to execs, the paper’s parent company could run out of cash in three to five years if things don’t change. As the Press Gazette’s Dominic Ponsford noted, this move indicates that the Guardian doesn’t believe that print decline can be stopped or reversed.
But at the same time, Guardian execs told paidContent they’re not abandoning print entirely, just reconfiguring it for the digital era. That includes transforming the daily paper into a more analysis-heavy edition that’s meant to be read in the evening. As Yahoo’s Joe Pompeo reported, the transformation also involves forming a newsroom for a new U.S.-based site.
The Guardian’s executives believe this digital transition will be inevitable for newspapers: “All newspapers will ultimately exit print, but we’re putting no timeframe on that,” said Guardian Media Group CEO Andrew Miller. Ponsford saidthat while this is a watershed moment for the Guardian, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of print for Britain’s national press. NYU j-prof Jay Rosen saw the Guardian asstaking out the open approach to the web, alongside the Times of London’s gated approach and the New York Times’ metered one.
GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram said the Guardian should be given credit for having the guts to draw a line in the sand over its digital future, but British blogger Suw Charman-Anderson said this doesn’t change the fact that the Guardian is hemorrhaging cash. An open, digital-first philosophy can’t make money appear, she argued; the Guardian needs to take on its anti-commercial culture and build a sustainable business.
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