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Guardian plans radical relaunch as an evening paper (but still produced in the morning)

And if that sounds Double Dutch it’s probably because it is.

New Guardian Media Group CEO Andrew Miller has announced that he is to cut £25m of print costs as the perennially loss-making paper faces the prospect of running out of money “in three to five years.”

Last year the company lost £35m as advertising slumped by nearly £60m, mostly accounted for by public sector job ads disappearing.

So the paper plans to become, in editor Alan Rusbridger’s words, “more Newsnight than News at Ten,” reflecting the fact (it thinks) that more readers read it in the evening, getting their news from its much more successful website Guardian.co.uk.

The ‘newspaper’, then, will concentrate on comment and analysis. There is already a huge amount of the former in each day’s Guardian so the size of the paper will be reduced.

None of this is likely to work unless the Guardian can start to make money from the 20-odd million users of its website.

So far it has set its face against introducing a paywall as The Times has done and the Daily Telegraph is about to do. Its caution may be justified as left-leaning Brits (the Guardian’s core constituency) do not seem to be very keen to pay for their media.

But, to date, the online ad model hasn’t worked either.

As for the paper, you do wonder, why publish it at all?

There was a reason when it was hoovering up huge amounts of classified ads from local authorities, government and the like.

But this is hardly likely to return under the current coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats and one doubts if even a Labour government in a few years’ time would turn the taps on again.

So the new strategy from Miller and Rusbridger is radical. But is it radical enough?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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