To understand The Guardian, Colin believes you must understand its roots.
John Edward Taylor, after witnessing the Peterloo Massacre, feared that Parliament would not get an accurate report from the press. He wrote an account himself and got his report into Parliament before any press reports had been received. The Manchester Guardian was founded in 1821 two years after this event.
From the beginning, The Guardian existed to challenge authority.
CP Scott was the editor for more than 50 years and bought the paper in the early 1900’s. Upon his death, fearing the newspaper’s safety and independence might someday become vulnerable, his heirs created the Scott Trust by forfeiting their inheritance.
According to Colin, “newspaper companies are simply unprofitable.”
While The Guardian may have been “least hit hard,” the decline of print and an advertising recession has left their marks. But rather than worry what they need to cut, The Guardian’s philosophy is to determine “what are we going to look like coming out of this.”
From 1999 to 2007, The Guardian’s online readership rose to over 21M users per month and is expected to more than double by 2020.
Apart from the BBC, The Guardian is the only news service increasing their coverage of foreign events. Most of their online readers are outside of the UK.
In fact, 5.7M of them are in the US.
Colin feels the Americans like them because The Guardian is “distinctive, authentic, trusted, and original.”
“Everything that we are naturally associated with…is what those readers want…rather than respond to these challenges by shrinking we’re in a fantastic position to expand what we do.”
The lesson: Opportunities to expand are present but they may not be where we’ve traditionally expected them to be.