Rise and Fall of Newsprint


I am a Guardian reader, I have been since I first started buying a newspaper, whilst at school.  I briefly flirted with The Herald when I lived in Scotland and in fact I still pick up copy up if I am north of the border.

But the Guardian has been a delightful, entertaining, informative and challenging constant in my life.

I have changed my reading habits though, and the recent ABC figures released in April for March 2013 make interesting food for thought for me.  There was a rise in newspaper sales of a considerable amount coinciding with the coverage of the death of Margaret Thatcher.

This was not of major concern to me personally, my readership of the Guardian should give you a clue as to my political leanings.  But the sales bounce was considerable across the majority of papers.  The Telegraph, as can be expected, made the most fuss and printed several editions, which I cannot bring myself to comment upon.

The Guardian stats are interesting Source: ABC

  • Mar 2013 circulation ave 196,004
  • Feb 2013 circulation ave 193,780
  • Month on Month Change +1.15%

The danger for the guardian though is in the Year on Year stats – you see I resisted the urge to use YoY, a popular TLA as per last weeks blog post !

The March 2012 circulation average of the Guardian was 214,128, so a full 8.5% down on last year.

The Sun have now announced a firewall price for their on-line newspaper and I wonder if the frankly brilliant Guardian website is going to go the same way.

I could not bear the thought of not being able to buy a hard copy Guardian, but yes, my purchase behaviour has, like millions of others, changed and I now read the news on Guardian.co.uk on my iPad and buy three actual issues a week, down from 6.  Monday for the sport, Friday for music and Saturday for reviews and culture.  I also buy the Observer for a Sunday relax over a coffee.

It will be interesting to see, if Guardian ever do charge for web access, if I will revert back to the paper … the cost dimension will play a part, but I do hope that print survives for a long time to come.  The recent sales boost cannot just be down to souvenir hunters, it must be something to do with reading serious news in newspapers and I bet you TV news viewing figures bounced as well.  It feels like the place you should read important news.  Despite the old saying about chip wrappers it retains a sense of gravitas and editorial strength that feels better in print than on-screen. It feels more permanent, and yet the reality is the web is more permanent.

I will keep using the website and buying the paper for now, reading the Guardian on a Saturday is one of my most favourite things, I hope I can enjoy doing it for years to come, especially if my iPad has run out of battery !


25 May 2013


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One thought on “Rise and Fall of Newsprint

  1. Charles Ping says:


    As you know I have a deep affection for The Guardian but can’t help believing that direct payment for content is inevitable. The Guardian seem to have painted themselves into a corner on the free model.
    Your suggestion that a paid online version may drive you back to print is interesting. I have an FT online subscription. It costs me for a week about the same as a high street tax evading coffee. The FT is far from mainstream but the market expansion made available by incremental revenues that come with a vanishing small incremental cost delivers a viable business model. I hope that The Guardian gets this sorted before they spend every penny in the group kitty and are forced to do something less strategic

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