Just when many thought newspapers were doomed, going extinct, there's what may be good news from The Guardian. Editor in chief, Katherine Viner, says an experiment in online reader support may have turned the venerable newspaper's fortunes around.
Three and a half years ago, when I took over as editor-in-chief, we were faced with the urgent challenge of how to make the Guardian sustainable.
The situation looked bleak across the media. Print advertising was in steep decline, and digital advertising growth was going almost entirely to Google and Facebook. News organisations everywhere were searching for answers to the challenge that they were being read more than ever before, but with fewer ways to cover costs. Month by month, more and more news outlets went behind a paywall.
We realised we had to find a new way to fund Guardian journalism. The obvious answer was to go to you, our readers – at that time we had 150 million, and you have always had a special relationship with the Guardian, valuing our editorial independence, our commitment to investigative reporting, and our progressive viewpoint rooted in the facts.
...When we asked for your support, we weren’t sure whether it would work. Both friends and competitors were deeply sceptical for a long time, but you, our readers listened and responded. It was inspiring how many of you from more than 180 countries wanted to play a role in supporting the Guardian financially.
...To be able to announce today that we have received financial support from more than 1 million readers around the world in the last three years is such a significant step. This model of being funded by our readers through voluntary contributions, subscriptions to the Guardian, the Observer and Guardian Weekly, membership or as part of our patrons programme is working.
This means that within just three years, the Guardian is on a path to being sustainable. We hope to break even by April 2019.
...We are living in dangerous times when dark ideologies flourish, and it’s no surprise that people feel anxious and confused. I know it can sometimes be tempting to turn away from news coverage. But I’m sure you feel, as I do, that we have to understand the world if we’re going to have a chance of making it better for everyone.I answered the call on the first wave of solicitations and I received a lovely hemp tote bag that's kicking around here someplace and a lovely plastic "membership" card although what it does is apparently nothing.
Is The Guardian good? Yes. Is it perfect? No, far from it. It is, however, progressive and that, in its own right, is worth supporting. It also has a decent environmental section that I appreciate. With the state of the world and the threats that loom any newspaper that doesn't has forfeit any claim to my support because they're not covering the most important issue in the history of mankind.