The Independent's media columnist Stephen Glover could not resist commenting today on the Guardian Media Group in an article headlined 'When an editor's ambitions were too grandiose' in which he compares editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger to the beleaguered Prime Minister.
Glover writes: "Some journalists on The Guardian blame The Observer for their financial predicament, but the paper is not the chief culprit. The Guardian used to be run as a low-cost operation that kept an eye on the pennies. In recent years, its ambitious though mild-mannered editor, Alan Rusbridger, has tried to turn the paper and its website into an internationally renowned publication. He was the Gordon Brown of Fleet Street.
"About £100m was spent on new presses. Staffing soared so that at one stage there were over 850 journalists on the payroll. The paper moved from cramped, but surely adequate, premises in Farringdon Road to capacious, ritzy new offices near Kings Cross containing a small concert hall. This was all nearer to Citizen Kane than the old Manchester Guardian. The trouble is that, far from challenging The New York Times for world supremacy, The Guardian has been slowly leaking sales (though not, to be fair, as much as some titles, including this one) while the costly website has never produced any profits.
"Generally speaking, I am all for newspaper editors spending as much as possible, and I do not really blame Mr Rusbridger for presiding over a spending spree. The trouble is that high-rolling editors sometimes need to be reined in. Mr Rusbridger long ago galloped over the horizon. Now, as Tim Brooks indicates, The Guardian and The Observer have a cost base wildly out of synch with their ability to generate revenue. Savings achieved by further integrating the two newspapers represent only a small proportion of what will be needed."
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