Sunday 9 August 2009

Peter Preston in the Observer on the Observer

Peter Preston devotes most of his media column in the Observer to the Observer today and the speculation that it may be closed by the Guardian Media Group.
He writes: "We're talking, as Carolyn McCall, the CEO of the Guardian Media Group made clear to staff last week, about "a developing three-year strategic plan" looking at "every aspect" of publishing for the Guardian, Observer and online. It's no secret, anywhere in mediaworld, that revenues won't return to pre-crunch levels when the economic crisis ends: "This inevitably means we will be a smaller organisation."
"But how, specifically? "A wide variety of different options, approaches and scenarios is being developed and will be considered," she wrote. It is "far too early to say what its outcome will be". Consideration of Observer closure, then, was only one possibility ripped from a cat's cradle of options."
Preston adds: "Anybody who looks at the history of newspapers - which gives the Observer its place of venerable honour - knows that difficulties are there to be overcome (and frequently are).
"I lived, on the Guardian, through the peril of 1966, when merger threatened obliteration. I saw the Times fall frail into Murdoch's hands and continue to soak up losses decade after decade. I watch now, in awe and admiration, as the Indy drops on my mat each morning, produced by barely a third of the journalists its rivals can deploy. There's a life force here, for newspapers are living communities. There's also a quagmire of imponderables for those who value newspapers to wade through.
"Hanging axes "set to" fall? Come on. Look at your own offices, and your own losses. Think what's it like to run, evaluate, decide - then scrap the glib headlines.
I've been there and run things, and it wasn't at all simple. And that was a doddle compared to now. Believe me."
The Sunday Times claims today that the Guardian Media Group lost £24m last year on currency trading as it tried to protect hedge-fund investments.

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