Is the Guardian planning to ditch print for digital future sooner rather than later?
There are rumours flying around that the Guardian is planning widespread redundancies and possibly even closing all or some of its print editions in a radical move to turn itself into an entirely digital operation in 2013.
While it seems highly unlikely that the Guardian would cease printing in the next year or so Alan Rusbridger said last year, when the paper unveiled its digital first strategy, that “every newspaper is on a journey into some kind of digital future”.
The Guardian with its rising losses could be on a faster track to that digital future than some newspaper rivals.
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Guardian News & Media could be forced into making compulsory redundancies to stem losses of nearly £1m a week.
It says that forced layoffs have become “inevitable” after the Guardian and Observer plunged deeper into the red last year — with losses hitting £45m to the end of March.
The losses will be confirmed next month when Guardian News & Media publishes its results. Compulsory redundancies could begin as early as the Autumn, according to sources cited by the Sunday Times.
That could also lead the way for the Guardian to push forward its “digital first” strategy and reduce its print operation further. One suggestion that is that the Guardian will in the not too distant future become a weekend only paper.
Last year the Guardian axed its international print editions and it might now be looking to take that a step further and consider cutting down its print operation from its current seven days (including the Observer) as a way of insuring its future as a digital business and cutting losses.
That chimes with rumours circulating from well placed media sources who say the Guardian will make some form of print closures next year.
These rumours point to a significant change next year and the process for those changes could be spelled out later this year as Guardian News & Media radically shakes up its organisation beginning with redundancies.
Commercial staff have been informed of the restructure and a consultation period is now underway, expected to be completed by 6 July.
The Guardian’s most recent ABC figure for May saw it record sales of 214,703 down-18.34% year on year making the biggest loser alongside the ailing Independent.
Last week it was also reported that the Guardian suffered a fall in web traffic in May.
The Guardian’s website lost ground on market-leading MailOnline, after traffic to guardian.co.uk dropped 12.16% between April and May to a 2012-low of 3,405,011 average daily browsers.
The Guardian only publishes audited figures for total monthly browsers every other month, so there is no month-on-month comparison.
However, sources have suggested that monthly browser numbers were strong in April at guardian.co.uk, buoyed by the latest phone-hacking revelations.