By JR on Friday, December 23, 2011
Guardian News & Media is to shrink the Guardian, axe its Film & Music supplement, and reduce its sport supplement to a two-days-a-week publication as it battles to stem pre-tax losses of more than £40m a year.
It will also reduce the number of pages in the Guardian’s flagship supplement G2, under wide-ranging changes to be introduced in January.
The media group, which also publishes the Observer newspaper, is briefing staff about the changes today and early next week. “As part of our digital first strategy, we have been looking in detail at how we produce our newspapers and website, and over the next few days we will be telling staff about our plans for a new, simplified production process,” a spokesman said.
“This will be introduced in January, along with some changes to the printed Monday to Friday Guardian. The changes to the paper take account of changing patterns of readership and advertising and are based on research with our readers.”
GNM will continue producing the Guardian’s sports supplement on Mondays and Saturdays, but every other day it will be folded into the main newspaper, which will itself have space squeezed due to a reduction in the number of pages. The Film & Music supplement will be replaced with a section in G2.
Last year GNM, which is propped up by the Scott Trust, went £43.8m into the red. The previous year the figure was £57.9m. The reduction in the Guardian’s activities is part of an effort to make £25m of savings over the next five years, which is also expected to include large-scale job losses.
The group is still seeking volunteers for redundancy but is expected to start the firing gun on compulsory redundancies in the new year, after too few volunteers came forward. Insiders say the company plans to cut around 100 jobs in total, although a Guardian spokeswoman said she did not recognise that figure.
GNM has cut more than 300 jobs in the last two financial years, reduced pagination and closed The Guardian's media, education and society supplements. It is also considering closing the £80m printing plant it opened just six years ago, leading to further job losses.
It has opened talks with Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mirror, about shifting its Berliner printing presses to the red-top’s Watford plant.
At one point it considered abandoning its print products altogether, but Andrew Miller, chief executive of GNM’s parent company Guardian Media Group, has told staff it will continue to have a print presence “for the foreseeable future”.