The Guardian front page on 15 January 2018
Compact (since 2018)
|Owner(s)||Guardian Media Group|
|Founder(s)||John Edward Taylor|
|Publisher||Guardian Media Group|
|Founded||5 May 1821 (as The Manchester Guardian, renamed The Guardian in 1959)|
|Headquarters||Kings Place, London|
|Circulation||134,567 (as of April 2019)|
The Guardian is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian, and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers The Observer and The Guardian Weekly, the Guardian is part of the Guardian Media Group, owned by the Scott Trust. The trust was created in 1936 to "secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity and to safeguard the journalistic freedom and liberal values of the Guardian free from commercial or political interference". The trust was converted into a limited company in 2008, with a constitution written so as to maintain for The Guardian the same protections as were built into the structure of the Scott Trust by its creators. Profits are reinvested in journalism rather than distributed to owners or shareholders.
The editor in chief Katharine Viner succeeded Alan Rusbridger in 2015. Since 2018, the paper's main newsprint sections have been published in tabloid format. As of November that year, its print edition had a daily circulation of 136,834. The newspaper has an online edition, TheGuardian.com, as well as two international websites, Guardian Australia (founded in 2013) and Guardian US (founded in 2011). The paper's readership is generally on the mainstream left of British political opinion, and its reputation as a platform for liberal and left-wing editorial has led to the use of the "Guardian reader" and "Guardianista" as often-pejorative epithets for those of left-leaning or "politically correct" tendencies. Frequent typographical errors in the paper led Private Eye magazine to dub it the "Grauniad" in the 1960s, a nickname still used today.
In an Ipsos MORI research poll in September 2018 designed to interrogate the public's trust of specific titles online, The Guardian scored highest for digital-content news, with 84% of readers agreeing that they "trust what [they] see in it". A December 2018 report of a poll by the Publishers Audience Measurement Company (PAMCo) stated that the paper's print edition was found to be the most trusted in the UK in the period from October 2017 to September 2018. It was also reported to be the most-read of the UK's "quality newsbrands", including digital editions; other "quality" brands included The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, and the i. While The Guardian's print circulation is in decline, the report indicated that news from The Guardian, including that reported online, reaches more than 23 million UK adults each month.
Chief among the notable "scoops" obtained by the paper was the 2011 News International phone-hacking scandal—and in particular the hacking of the murdered English teenager Milly Dowler's phone. The investigation led to the closure of the News of the World, the UK's best-selling Sunday newspaper and one of the highest-circulation newspapers in history. In June 2013, The Guardian broke news of the secret collection by the Obama administration of Verizon telephone records, and subsequently revealed the existence of the surveillance program PRISM after knowledge of it was leaked to the paper by the whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. In 2016, The Guardian led an investigation into the Panama Papers, exposing then-Prime Minister David Cameron's links to offshore bank accounts. It has been named "newspaper of the year" four times at the annual British Press Awards: most recently in 2014, for its reporting on government surveillance.
The Manchester Guardian was founded in Manchester in 1821 by cotton merchant John Edward Taylor with backing from the Little Circle, a group of non-conformist businessmen. They launched their paper after the police closure of the more radical Manchester Observer, a paper that had championed the cause of the Peterloo Massacre protesters. Taylor had been hostile to the radical reformers, writing: "They have appealed not to the reason but the passions and the suffering of their abused and credulous fellow-countrymen, from whose ill-requited industry they extort for themselves the means of a plentiful and comfortable existence. They do not toil, neither do they spin, but they live better than those that do." When the government closed down the Manchester Observer, the mill-owners' champions had the upper hand.
The influential journalist Jeremiah Garnett joined Taylor during the establishment of the paper, and all of the Little Circle wrote articles for the new paper.
The prospectus announcing the new publication proclaimed that it would "zealously enforce the principles of civil and religious Liberty […] warmly advocate the cause of Reform […] endeavour to assist in the diffusion of just principles of Political Economy and […] support, without reference to the party from which they emanate, all serviceable measures". In 1825 the paper merged with the British Volunteer and was known as The Manchester Guardian and British Volunteer until 1828.
The working-class Manchester and Salford Advertiser called the Manchester Guardian "the foul prostitute and dirty parasite of the worst portion of the mill-owners". The Manchester Guardian was generally hostile to labour's claims. Of the 1832 Ten Hours Bill, the paper doubted whether in view of the foreign competition "the passing of a law positively enacting a gradual destruction of the cotton manufacture in this kingdom would be a much less rational procedure." The Manchester Guardian dismissed strikes as the work of outside agitators: "[…] if an accommodation can be effected, the occupation of the agents of the Union is gone. They live on strife […]"
The Manchester Guardian was highly critical of US President Abraham Lincoln's conduct during the US Civil War (1861–65), writing on the news that Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated: "Of his rule, we can never speak except as a series of acts abhorrent to every true notion of constitutional right and human liberty […]"
C. P. Scott made the newspaper nationally recognised. He was editor for 57 years from 1872, and became its owner when he bought the paper from the estate of Taylor's son in 1907. Under Scott, the paper's moderate editorial line became more radical, supporting William Gladstone when the Liberals split in 1886, and opposing the Second Boer War against popular opinion. Scott supported the movement for women's suffrage, but was critical of any tactics by the Suffragettes that involved direct action: "The really ludicrous position is that Mr Lloyd George is fighting to enfranchise seven million women and the militants are smashing unoffending people's windows and breaking up benevolent societies' meetings in a desperate effort to prevent him." Scott thought the Suffragettes' "courage and devotion" was "worthy of a better cause and saner leadership". It has been argued that Scott's criticism reflected a widespread disdain, at the time, for those women who "transgressed the gender expectations of Edwardian society".
Scott commissioned J. M. Synge and his friend Jack Yeats to produce articles and drawings documenting the social conditions of the west of Ireland (pre-First World War), and these pieces were published in 1911 in the collection Travels in Wicklow, West Kerry and Connemara.
In June 1936 ownership of the paper passed to the Scott Trust (named after the last owner, John Russell Scott, who was the first chairman of the Trust). This move ensured the paper's independence.
From 1930 to 1967 a special archival copy of all the daily newspapers was preserved in 700 zinc cases. These were found in 1988 while the newspaper's archives were deposited at the John Rylands University Library on the Oxford Road campus. The first case was opened and found to contain the newspapers issued in August 1930 in pristine condition. The zinc cases had been made each month by the newspaper's plumber and stored for posterity. The other 699 cases were not opened and were all returned to storage at the Guardian's garage because the library was short of space.
Traditionally affiliated with the centrist to centre-left Liberal Party, and with a northern, non-conformist circulation base, the paper earned a national reputation and the respect of the left during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). George Orwell writes in Homage to Catalonia (1938): "Of our larger papers, the Manchester Guardian is the only one that leaves me with an increased respect for its honesty". With the pro-Liberal News Chronicle, the Labour-supporting Daily Herald, the Communist Party's Daily Worker and several Sunday and weekly papers, it supported the Republican government against General Francisco Franco's insurgent nationalists.
The paper's then editor, A. P. Wadsworth, so loathed Labour's left-wing champion Aneurin Bevan, who had made a reference to getting rid of "Tory Vermin" in a speech "and the hate-gospellers of his entourage" that it encouraged readers to vote Conservative and remove Attlee's post-war Labour government. The newspaper opposed the creation of the National Health Service as it feared the state provision of healthcare would "eliminate selective elimination" and lead to an increase of congenitally deformed and feckless people.
The Manchester Guardian strongly opposed military intervention during the 1956 Suez Crisis: "The Anglo-French ultimatum to Egypt is an act of folly, without justification in any terms but brief expediency. It pours petrol on a growing fire. There is no knowing what kind of explosion will follow."
On 24 August 1959, The Manchester Guardian changed its name to The Guardian. This change reflected the growing prominence of national and international affairs in the newspaper. In September 1961, The Guardian, which had previously only been published in Manchester, began to be printed in London.
When 13 civil rights demonstrators in Northern Ireland were killed by British soldiers on 30 January 1972 (known as Bloody Sunday), The Guardian said that "Neither side can escape condemnation." Of the protesters, they wrote, "The organizers of the demonstration, Miss Bernadette Devlin among them, deliberately challenged the ban on marches. They knew that stone throwing and sniping could not be prevented, and that the IRA might use the crowd as a shield." Of the army, they wrote, "there seems little doubt that random shots were fired into the crowd, that aim was taken at individuals who were neither bombers nor weapons carriers and that excessive force was used".
Many Irish people believed that the Widgery Tribunal's ruling on the killings was a whitewash, a view that was later supported with the publication of the Saville inquiry in 2010, but in 1972 The Guardian declared that "Widgery's report is not one-sided" (20 April 1972). At the time the paper also supported internment without trial in Northern Ireland: "Internment without trial is hateful, repressive and undemocratic. In the existing Irish situation, most regrettably, it is also inevitable... .To remove the ringleaders, in the hope that the atmosphere might calm down, is a step to which there is no obvious alternative." Before then, The Guardian had called for British troops to be sent to the region: British soldiers could "present a more disinterested face of law and order," but only on condition that "Britain takes charge."
In 1983 the paper was at the centre of a controversy surrounding documents regarding the stationing of cruise missiles in Britain that were leaked to The Guardian by civil servant Sarah Tisdall. The paper eventually complied with a court order to hand over the documents to the authorities, which resulted in a six-month prison sentence for Tisdall, though she served only four. "I still blame myself," said Peter Preston, who was the editor of The Guardian at the time, but he went on to argue that the paper had no choice because it "believed in the rule of law". In an article discussing Julian Assange and the protection of sources by journalists, John Pilger criticised The Guardian's editor for betraying Tisdall by choosing not to go to gaol "on a fundamental principle of protecting a source".
In the lead-up to the first Gulf War, between 1990 and 1991, The Guardian expressed doubts about military action against Iraq: "Frustration in the Gulf leads temptingly to the invocation of task forces and tactical bombing, but the military option is no option at all. The emergence yesterday of a potential hostage problem of vast dimensions only emphasised that this is far too complex a crisis for gunboat diplomacy. Loose talk of 'carpet bombing' Baghdad should be put back in the bottle of theoretical but unacceptable scenarios."
But on the eve of the war, the paper rallied to the war cause: "The simple cause, at the end, is just. An evil regime in Iraq instituted an evil and brutal invasion. Our soldiers and airmen are there, at UN behest, to set that evil to rights. Their duties are clear. ... Let the momentum, and the resolution, be swift." After the event, journalist Maggie O'Kane conceded that she and her colleagues had been a mouthpiece for war propaganda: "... we, the media, were harnessed like 2,000 beach donkeys and led through the sand to see what the British and US military wanted us to see in this nice clean war".
In 1994, KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky identified Guardian literary editor Richard Gott as "an agent of influence". While Gott denied that he received cash, he admitted he had had lunch at the Soviet Embassy and had taken benefits from the KGB on overseas visits. Gott resigned from his post.
In 1995, both the Granada Television programme World In Action and The Guardian were sued for libel by the then cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, for their allegation that Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed had paid for Aitken and his wife to stay at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, which would have amounted to accepting a bribe on Aitken's part. Aitken publicly stated that he would fight with "the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play". The court case proceeded, and in 1997 The Guardian produced evidence that Aitken's claim of his wife paying for the hotel stay was untrue. In 1999, Aitken was jailed for perjury and perverting the course of justice.
In May 1998, a series of Guardian investigations exposed the wholesale fabrication of a much-garlanded ITV documentary 'The Connection', produced by Carlton Television.
The documentary purported to film an undiscovered route by which heroin was smuggled into the United Kingdom from Colombia. An internal inquiry at Carlton found that The Guardian's allegations were in large part correct and the then industry regulator, the ITC, punished Carlton with a record £2-million fine for multiple breaches of the UK's broadcasting codes. The scandal led to an impassioned debate about the accuracy of documentary production.
The paper supported NATO's military intervention in the Kosovo War in 1998–1999. The Guardian stated that "the only honourable course for Europe and America is to use military force". Mary Kaldor's piece was headlined "Bombs away! But to save civilians, we must get in some soldiers too."
In the early 2000s, The Guardian challenged the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Treason Felony Act 1848. In October 2004, The Guardian published a humorous column by Charlie Brooker in its entertainment guide, which appeared to call for the assassination of George W. Bush. This caused some controversy and the paper was forced to issue an apology and remove the article from its website. Following the 7 July 2005 London bombings, The Guardian published an article on its comment pages by Dilpazier Aslam, a 27-year-old British Muslim and journalism trainee from Yorkshire. Aslam was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist group, and had published a number of articles on their website. According to the paper, it did not know that Aslam was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir when he applied to become a trainee, though several staff members were informed of this once he started at the paper. The Home Office has claimed the group's "ultimate aim is the establishment of an Islamic state (Caliphate), according to Hizb ut-Tahrir via non-violent means". The Guardian asked Aslam to resign his membership of the group and, when he did not do so, terminated his employment. In early 2009, the paper started a tax investigation into a number of major UK companies, including publishing a database of the tax paid by the FTSE 100 companies. Internal documents relating to Barclays Bank's tax avoidance were removed from The Guardian website after Barclays obtained a gagging order. The paper played a pivotal role in exposing the depth of the News of the World phone hacking affair. The Economist's Intelligent Life magazine opined that...
|“||As Watergate is to the Washington Post, and thalidomide to the Sunday Times, so phone-hacking will surely be to the Guardian: a defining moment in its history.||”|
In August 2004, for the US presidential election, the daily G2 supplement launched an experimental letter-writing campaign in Clark County, Ohio, an average-sized county in a swing state. Editor Ian Katz bought a voter list from the county for $25 and asked readers to write to people listed as undecided in the election, giving them an impression of the international view and the importance of voting against President George W. Bush. Katz admitted later that he did not believe Democrats who warned that the campaign would benefit Bush and not opponent John Kerry. The newspaper scrapped "Operation Clark County" on 21 October 2004 after first publishing a column of responses—nearly all of them outraged—to the campaign under the headline "Dear Limey assholes". Some commentators suggested that the public's dislike of the campaign contributed to Bush's victory in Clark County.
In 2007, the paper launched Guardian America, an attempt to capitalise on its large online readership in the United States, which at the time stood at more than 5.9 million. The company hired former American Prospect editor, New York magazine columnist and New York Review of Books writer Michael Tomasky to head the project and hire a staff of American reporters and web editors. The site featured news from The Guardian that was relevant to an American audience: coverage of US news and the Middle East, for example.
Tomasky stepped down from his position as editor of Guardian America in February 2009, ceding editing and planning duties to other US and London staff. He retained his position as a columnist and blogger, taking the title editor-at-large.
In October 2009, the company abandoned the Guardian America homepage, instead directing users to a US news index page on the main Guardian website. The following month, the company laid off six American employees, including a reporter, a multimedia producer and four web editors. The move came as Guardian News and Media opted to reconsider its US strategy amid a huge effort to cut costs across the company. In subsequent years, however, The Guardian has hired various commentators on US affairs including Ana Marie Cox, Michael Wolff, Naomi Wolf, Glenn Greenwald and George W. Bush's former speechwriter Josh Treviño. Treviño's first blog post was an apology for a controversial tweet posted in June 2011 over the second Gaza flotilla, the controversy which had been revived by the appointment.
Guardian US launched in September 2011, led by editor-in-chief Janine Gibson, which replaced the previous Guardian America service. After a period during which Katharine Viner served as the US editor-in-chief before taking charge of Guardian News and Media as a whole, Viner's former deputy, Lee Glendinning, was appointed to succeed her as head of the American operation at the beginning of June 2015.
In October 2009, The Guardian reported that it was forbidden to report on a parliamentary matter – a question recorded in a Commons order paper, to be answered by a minister later that week. The paper noted that it was being "forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented—for the first time in memory—from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret. The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck." The paper further claimed that this case appears "to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights". The only parliamentary question mentioning Carter-Ruck in the relevant period was by Paul Farrelly MP, in reference to legal action by Barclays and Trafigura. The part of the question referencing Carter-Ruck relates to the latter company's September 2009 gagging order on the publication of a 2006 internal report into the 2006 Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste dump scandal, which involved a class action case that the company only settled in September 2009 after The Guardian published some of the commodity trader's internal emails. The reporting injunction was lifted the next day, as Carter-Ruck withdrew it before The Guardian could challenge it in the High Court. Alan Rusbridger credited the rapid back-down of Carter-Ruck to Twitter, as did a BBC article.
In June 2013, the newspaper broke news of the secret collection of Verizon telephone records held by Barack Obama's administration and subsequently revealed the existence of the PRISM surveillance program after it was leaked to the paper by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The newspaper was subsequently contacted by the British government's Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, under instruction from Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who ordered that the hard drives containing the information be destroyed. The Guardian's offices were then visited in July by agents from the UK's GCHQ, who supervised the destruction of the hard drives containing information acquired from Snowden. In June 2014 The Register reported that the information the government sought to suppress by destroying the hard drives related to the location of a "beyond top secret" internet monitoring base in Seeb, Oman, and the close involvement of BT and Cable & Wireless in intercepting internet communications. Julian Assange criticised the newspaper for not publishing the entirety of the content when it had the chance. Rusbridger had initially proceeded without the government's supervision, but subsequently sought it, and established an ongoing relationship with the Defence Ministry. The Guardian enquiry later continued because the information had already been copied outside the United Kingdom, earning the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize. Rusbridger and subsequent chief editors would sit on the government's DSMA-notice board.
In a November 2018 Guardian article Luke Harding and Dan Collyns cited anonymous sources which stated that Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret meetings with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2013, 2015, and 2016. One reporter characterized the story, "If it’s right, it might be the biggest get this year. If it’s wrong, it might be the biggest gaffe." Manafort and Assange both denied ever having met with the latter threatening legal action against The Guardian. Ecuador's London consul Fidel Narváez, who had worked at Ecuador's embassy in London from 2010 to July 2018, denied that Manafort's visits had happened.
The Guardian is part of the Guardian Media Group (GMG) of newspapers, radio stations and print media including; The Observer Sunday newspaper, The Guardian Weekly international newspaper, and new media—Guardian Abroad website, and guardian.co.uk. All the aforementioned were owned by The Scott Trust, a charitable foundation existing between 1936 and 2008, which aimed to ensure the paper's editorial independence in perpetuity, maintaining its financial health to ensure it did not become vulnerable to take overs by for-profit media groups. At the beginning of October 2008, the Scott Trust's assets were transferred to a new limited company, The Scott Trust Limited, with the intention being that the original trust would be wound up. Dame Liz Forgan, chair of the Scott Trust, reassured staff that the purposes of the new company remained the same as under the previous arrangements.
The Guardian's ownership by the Scott Trust is probably a factor in its being the only British national daily to conduct (since 2003) an annual social, ethical and environmental audit in which it examines, under the scrutiny of an independent external auditor, its own behaviour as a company. It is also the only British national daily newspaper to employ an internal ombudsman (called the "readers' editor") to handle complaints and corrections.
The Guardian and its parent groups participate in Project Syndicate, established by George Soros, and intervened in 1995 to save the Mail & Guardian in South Africa. However, Guardian Media Group sold the majority of its shares of the Mail & Guardian in 2002.
The Guardian was consistently loss-making until 2019. The National Newspaper division of GMG, which also includes The Observer, reported operating losses of £49.9m in 2006, up from £18.6m in 2005. The paper was therefore heavily dependent on cross-subsidisation from profitable companies within the group.
The continual losses made by the National Newspaper division of the Guardian Media Group caused it to dispose of its Regional Media division by selling titles to competitor Trinity Mirror in March 2010. This included the flagship Manchester Evening News, and severed the historic link between that paper and The Guardian. The sale was in order to safeguard the future of The Guardian newspaper as is the intended purpose of the Scott Trust.
In June 2011 Guardian News and Media revealed increased annual losses of £33m and announced that it was looking to focus on its online edition for news coverage, leaving the print edition to contain more comments and features. It was also speculated that The Guardian might become the first British national daily paper to be fully online.
Between 2007 and 2014 The Guardian Media Group sold all their side businesses, of regional papers and online portals for classifieds and consolidated, into The Guardian as sole product. The sales let them acquire a capital stock of £838.3m as of July 2014, supposed to guarantee the independence of The Guardian in perpetuity. In the first year, the paper made more losses than predicted, and in January 2016 the publishers announced, that The Guardian will cut 20 per cent of staff and costs within the next three years. The newspaper is rare in calling for direct contributions "to deliver the independent journalism the world needs."
The Guardian Media Group's 2018 annual report (year ending 1 April 2018) indicated some significant changes occurring. Its digital (online) editions accounted for over 50% of group revenues by that time; the loss from news and media operations was £18.6m, 52% lower than during the prior year (2017: £38.9m). The Group had cut costs by £19.1m, partly by switching its print edition to the tabloid format. The Guardian Media Group's owner, the Scott Trust Endowment Fund, reported that its value at the time was £1.01 billion (2017: £1.03bn).
In 2014, The Guardian launched a membership scheme. The scheme aims to reduce the financial losses incurred by The Guardian without introducing a paywall, thus maintaining open access to the website. Website readers can pay a monthly subscription, with three tiers available. As of 2018 this approach was considered successful, having brought more than 1 million subscriptions or donations, with the paper hoping to break even by April 2019.
In 2016, the company established a U.S.-based philanthropic arm to raise money from individuals and organizations including think tanks and corporate foundations. The grants are focused by the donors on particular issues. By the following year, the organization had raised $1 million from the likes of Pierre Omidyar’s Humanity United, the Skoll Foundation, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to finance reporting on topics including modern-day slavery and climate change. The Guardian has stated that it has secured $6 million "in multi-year funding commitments" thus far.
The new project developed from funding relationships which the paper already had with the Ford, Rockefeller, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates had given the organization $5 million for its Global Development webpage.
Founded by textile traders and merchants, in its early years The Guardian had a reputation as "an organ of the middle class", or in the words of C. P. Scott's son Ted, "a paper that will remain bourgeois to the last". Associated at first with the Little Circle and hence with classical liberalism as expressed by the Whigs and later by the Liberal Party, its political orientation underwent a decisive change after World War II, leading to a gradual alignment with Labour and the political left in general.
The Scott Trust describes one of its "core purposes" to be "to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to its liberal tradition". The paper's readership is generally on the mainstream left of British political opinion: a MORI poll taken between April and June 2000 showed that 80 per cent of Guardian readers were Labour Party voters; according to another MORI poll taken in 2005, 48 per cent of Guardian readers were Labour voters and 34 per cent Liberal Democrat voters. The newspaper's reputation as a platform for liberal opinions has led to the use of the epithets "Guardian reader" and "Guardianista" for people holding such views, or as a stereotype of such people as middle class, earnest and politically correct.
Although the paper is often considered to be "linked inextricably" to the Labour Party, three of The Guardian's four leader writers joined the more centrist Social Democratic Party on its foundation in 1981. The paper was enthusiastic in its support for Tony Blair in his successful bid to lead the Labour Party, and to be elected Prime Minister. On 19 January 2003, two months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, an Observer Editorial said: "Military intervention in the Middle East holds many dangers. But if we want a lasting peace it may be the only option. […] War with Iraq may yet not come, but, conscious of the potentially terrifying responsibility resting with the British Government, we find ourselves supporting the current commitment to a possible use of force." But The Guardian opposed the war, along with the Daily Mirror and The Independent.
Then Guardian features editor Ian Katz asserted in 2004 that "it is no secret we are a centre-left newspaper". In 2008, Guardian columnist Jackie Ashley said that editorial contributors were a mix of "right-of-centre libertarians, greens, Blairites, Brownites, Labourite but less enthusiastic Brownites, etc," and that the newspaper was "clearly left of centre and vaguely progressive". She also said that "you can be absolutely certain that come the next general election, The Guardian's stance will not be dictated by the editor, still less any foreign proprietor (it helps that there isn't one) but will be the result of vigorous debate within the paper". The paper's comment and opinion pages, though often written by centre-left contributors such as Polly Toynbee, have allowed some space for right-of-centre voices such as Sir Max Hastings and Michael Gove. Since an editorial in 2000, The Guardian has favoured abolition of the British monarchy. "I write for the Guardian," said Max Hastings in 2005, "because it is read by the new establishment," reflecting the paper's then-growing influence.
In the run-up to the 2010 general election, following a meeting of the editorial staff, the paper declared its support for the Liberal Democrats, due in particular, to the party's stance on electoral reform. The paper suggested tactical voting to prevent a Conservative victory, given Britain's first-past-the-post electoral system. At the 2015 election, the paper switched its support to the Labour Party. The paper argued that Britain needed a new direction and Labour "speaks with more urgency than its rivals on social justice, standing up to predatory capitalism, on investment for growth, on reforming and strengthening the public realm, Britain's place in Europe and international development".
Assistant Editor Michael White, in discussing media self-censorship in March 2011, says: "I have always sensed liberal, middle class ill-ease in going after stories about immigration, legal or otherwise, about welfare fraud or the less attractive tribal habits of the working class, which is more easily ignored altogether. Toffs, including royal ones, Christians, especially popes, governments of Israel, and US Republicans are more straightforward targets."
In a 2013 interview for NPR, the Guardian's Latin America correspondent Rory Carroll stated that many editors at The Guardian believed and continue to believe that they should support Hugo Chávez "because he was a standard-bearer for the left".
In the 2015 Labour Party leadership election, The Guardian supported Yvette Cooper and was critical of left-winger Jeremy Corbyn, the successful candidate. These positions were criticised by the Morning Star, which accused The Guardian of being conservative. Although the majority of political columnists in The Guardian were against Corbyn winning, Owen Jones, Seumas Milne, and George Monbiot wrote supportive articles about him.
Despite this critical position, in the 2017 election The Guardian endorsed the Labour Party. In the 2019 European election The Guardian invited its readers to vote for pro-EU candidates, without endorsing specific parties.
In recent decades The Guardian has been accused of biased criticism of Israeli government policy and of bias against the Palestinians. In December 2003, columnist Julie Burchill cited "striking bias against the state of Israel" as one of the reasons she left the paper for The Times. A leaked report from the European Monitoring Centre on Racism cited The Economist's claim that for "many British Jews," the British media's reporting on Israel "is spiced with a tone of animosity, 'as to smell of anti-Semitism' ... This is above all the case with the Guardian and The Independent". The EU said the report, dated February 2003, was not published because it was insubstantial in its current state and lacking sufficient evidence.
Responding to these accusations, a Guardian editorial in 2002 condemned anti-Semitism and defended the paper's right to criticise the policies and actions of the Israeli government, arguing that those who view such criticism as inherently anti-Jewish are mistaken. Harriet Sherwood, then The Guardian's foreign editor, later its Jerusalem correspondent, has also denied that The Guardian has an anti-Israel bias, saying that the paper aims to cover all viewpoints in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
On 6 November 2011, Chris Elliott, the Guardian's readers' editor, wrote that "Guardian reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant about the language they use when writing about Jews or Israel," citing recent cases where The Guardian received complaints regarding language chosen to describe Jews or Israel. Elliott noted that, over nine months, he upheld complaints regarding language in certain articles that were seen as anti-Semitic, revising the language and footnoting this change.
The Guardian's style guide section referred to Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel in 2012. The Guardian later clarified: "In 1980, the Israeli Knesset enacted a law designating the city of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem, as the country's capital. In response, the UN security council issued resolution 478, censuring the "change in character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem" and calling on all member states with diplomatic missions in the city to withdraw. The UN has reaffirmed this position on several occasions, and almost every country now has its embassy in Tel Aviv. While it was therefore right to issue a correction to make clear Israel's designation of Jerusalem as its capital is not recognised by the international community, we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country's financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital. The style guide has been amended accordingly."
On 11 August 2014 the print edition of The Guardian published a pro-Israeli advocacy advert during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict featuring Elie Wiesel, headed by the words "Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it's Hamas' turn." The Times had decided against running the ad, although it had already appeared in major American newspapers. One week later, Chris Elliott expressed the opinion that the newspaper should have rejected the language used in the advert and should have negotiated with the advertiser on this matter.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, a former contributor to The Guardian, has accused The Guardian of falsifying the words of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a report about the interview he gave to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Greenwald wrote: "This article is about how those [Guardian's] false claims—fabrications, really—were spread all over the internet by journalists, causing hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) to consume false news." The Guardian later amended its article about Assange.[clarification needed]
After publishing a story on 13 January 2017 claiming that WhatsApp had a "backdoor [that] allows snooping on messages", more than 70 professional cryptographers signed on to an open letter calling for The Guardian to retract the article. On 13 June 2017, editor Paul Chadwick released an article detailing the flawed reporting in the original January article, which was amended to remove references to a backdoor.
The Guardian had a certified average daily circulation of 204,222 copies in December 2012 — a drop of 11.25 per cent on January 2012 — as compared to sales of 547,465 for The Daily Telegraph, 396,041 for The Times, and 78,082 for The Independent. In March 2013, its average daily circulation had fallen to 193,586, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Circulation has continued to decline and stood at 161,091 in December 2016, a decline of 2.98 per cent year-on-year.
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The first edition was published on 5 May 1821, at which time The Guardian was a weekly, published on Saturdays and costing 7d; the stamp duty on newspapers (4d per sheet) forced the price up so high that it was uneconomic to publish more frequently. When the stamp duty was cut in 1836, The Guardian added a Wednesday edition and with the abolition of the tax in 1855 it became a daily paper costing 2d.
In October 1952, the paper took the step of printing news on the front page, replacing the adverts that had hitherto filled that space. Then-editor A. P. Wadsworth wrote: "It is not a thing I like myself, but it seems to be accepted by all the newspaper pundits that it is preferable to be in fashion."
In 1959, the paper dropped "Manchester" from its title, becoming simply The Guardian, and in 1964 it moved to London, losing some of its regional agenda but continuing to be heavily subsidised by sales of the more downmarket but more profitable Manchester Evening News. The financial position remained extremely poor into the 1970s; at one time it was in merger talks with The Times. The paper consolidated its centre-left stance during the 1970s and 1980s. It was both shocked and revitalised by the launch of The Independent in 1986 which competed for a similar readership and provoked the entire broadsheet industry into a fight for circulation.
On 12 February 1988, The Guardian had a significant redesign; as well as improving the quality of its printers' ink, it also changed its masthead to a juxtaposition of an italic Garamond "The", with a bold Helvetica "Guardian", that remained in use until the 2005 redesign.
In 1992, The Guardian relaunched its features section as G2, a tabloid-format supplement. This innovation was widely copied by the other "quality" broadsheets and ultimately led to the rise of "compact" papers and The Guardian's move to the Berliner format. In 1993 the paper declined to participate in the broadsheet price war started by Rupert Murdoch's The Times. In June 1993, The Guardian bought The Observer from Lonrho, thus gaining a serious Sunday sister newspaper with similar political views.
Its international weekly edition is now titled The Guardian Weekly, though it retained the title Manchester Guardian Weekly for some years after the home edition had moved to London. It includes sections from a number of other internationally significant newspapers of a somewhat left-of-centre inclination, including Le Monde and The Washington Post. The Guardian Weekly was also linked to a website for expatriates, Guardian Abroad, which was launched in 2007 but had been taken offline by 2012.
The Guardian is printed in full colour, and was the first newspaper in the UK to use the Berliner format for its main section, while producing sections and supplements in a range of page sizes including tabloid, approximately A4, and pocket-size (approximately A5).
In 2004, The Guardian announced plans to change to a Berliner or "midi" format, similar to that used by Die Tageszeitung in Germany, Le Monde in France and many other European papers. At 470×315 mm, this is slightly larger than a traditional tabloid. Planned for the autumn of 2005, this change followed moves by The Independent and The Times to start publishing in tabloid (or compact) format. On Thursday, 1 September 2005, The Guardian announced that it would launch the new format on Monday 12 September 2005. Sister Sunday newspaper The Observer also changed to this new format on 8 January 2006.
The advantage The Guardian saw in the Berliner format was that, though it is only a little wider than a tabloid, and is equally easy to read on public transport, its greater height gives more flexibility in page design. The new presses mean that printing can go across the strip down the middle of the centre page, known as the "gutter", allowing the paper to print full double-page pictures. The new presses also made it the first UK national paper to print in full colour on every page.
The format switch was accompanied by a comprehensive redesign of the paper's look. On Friday, 9 September 2005, the newspaper unveiled its newly designed front page, which débuted on Monday 12 September 2005. Designed by Mark Porter, the new look includes a new masthead for the newspaper, its first since 1988. A typeface family designed by Paul Barnes and Christian Schwartz was created for the new design. With just over 200 fonts, it is "one of the most ambitious custom type programs ever commissioned by a newspaper". Especially notable is Guardian Egyptian, a highly legible slab serif that is used in various weights for both text and headlines and is central to the redesign.
The switch cost Guardian Newspapers £80 million and involved setting up new printing presses in east London and Manchester. This switch was necessary because, before The Guardian's move, no printing presses in Britain could produce newspapers in the Berliner format. There were additional complications, as one of the paper's presses was part-owned by Telegraph Newspapers and Express Newspapers, contracted to use the plant until 2009. Another press was shared with the Guardian Media Group's north-western tabloid local papers, which did not wish to switch to the Berliner format.
The new format was generally well received by Guardian readers, who were encouraged to provide feedback on the changes. The only controversy was over the dropping of the Doonesbury cartoon strip. The paper reported thousands of calls and emails complaining about its loss; within 24 hours the decision was reversed and the strip was reinstated the following week. G2 supplement editor Ian Katz, who was responsible for dropping it, apologised in the editors' blog saying, "I'm sorry, once again, that I made you—and the hundreds of fellow fans who have called our helpline or mailed our comments' address—so cross." However, some readers were dissatisfied as the earlier deadline needed for the all-colour sports section meant coverage of late-finishing evening football matches became less satisfactory in the editions supplied to some parts of the country.
The investment was rewarded with a circulation rise. In December 2005, the average daily sale stood at 380,693, nearly 6 per cent higher than the figure for December 2004. (However, as of December 2012, circulation had dropped to 204,222.) In 2006, the US-based Society for News Design chose The Guardian and Polish daily Rzeczpospolita as the world's best-designed newspapers—from among 389 entries from 44 countries.
In June 2017, Guardian Media Group (GMG) announced that The Guardian and The Observer would relaunch in tabloid format from early 2018. The Guardian confirmed the launch date for the new format to be 15 January 2018. GMG also signed a contract with Trinity Mirror – the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, and Sunday People – to outsource printing of The Guardian and The Observer.
The format change is intended to help cut costs as it allows the paper to be printed by a wider array of presses, and outsourcing the printing to presses owned by Trinity Mirror is expected to save millions of pounds annually. The move is part of a three-year plan that includes cutting 300 jobs in an attempt to reduce losses and break even by 2019. The paper and ink are the same as previously and the font size is fractionally larger.
An assessment of the response from readers in late April 2018 indicated that the new format had led to an increased number of subscriptions. The editors were working on changing aspects that had caused complaints from readers.
With the main paper now a tabloid as of 2018, all week-day supplements are of the same size as the main section. Opinion and idea features are in a second section called Journal, while G2 contains lighter items and features. Saturday's edition contains a glossy magazine called Weekend and a smaller stapled listings and culture supplement called The Guide.
In the main paper:
In the main paper:
In the main paper:
The Guide (a weekly listings magazine)
Review (covers literature, cinema and arts)
Feast (food supplement)
The Guardian and its Sunday sibling The Observer publish all their news online, with free access both to current news and an archive of three million stories. A third of the site's hits are for items over a month old. As of May 2013, it was the most popular UK newspaper website with 8.2 million unique visitors per month, just ahead of Mail Online with 7.6 million unique monthly visitors. In April 2011, MediaWeek reported that The Guardian was the fifth most popular newspaper site in the world. Journalists use an analytics tool called Ophan, built entire in-house, to measure website data around stories and audience. In 2017 online version of The Guardian was among the ten most cited sources in the English Wikipedia. According to Alexa's TrafficRank system, in September 2019 The Guardian was ranked 124 in the world, and 19 in the United Kingdom.
The Guardian launched an iOS mobile application for its content in 2009. An Android app followed in 2011. In 2018, the newspaper announced its apps and mobile website would be redesigned to coincide with its relaunch as a tabloid.
The Comment is Free section features columns by the paper's journalists and regular commentators, as well as articles from guest writers, including readers' comments and responses below. The section includes all the opinion pieces published in the paper itself, as well as many others that only appear online. Censorship is exercised by Moderators who can ban posts – with no right of appeal – by those who they feel have overstepped the mark. The Guardian has taken what they call a very "open" stance in delivering news, and have launched an open platform for their content. This allows external developers to easily use Guardian content in external applications, and even to feed third-party content back into the Guardian network. The Guardian also had a number of talkboards that were noted for their mix of political discussion and whimsy until they were closed on Friday, 25 February 2011 after they had settled a libel action brought after months of harassment of a conservative party activist. They were spoofed in The Guardian's own regular humorous Chatroom column in G2. The spoof column purported to be excerpts from a chatroom on permachat.co.uk, a real URL that pointed to The Guardian's talkboards.
In August 2013, a webshow titled Thinkfluencer was launched by Guardian Multimedia in association with Arte.
The paper has also launched a dating website, Soulmates, and is experimenting with new media, having previously offered a free twelve part weekly podcast series by Ricky Gervais. In January 2006, Gervais' show topped the iTunes podcast chart having been downloaded by two million listeners worldwide, and was scheduled to be listed in the 2007 Guinness Book of Records as the most downloaded podcast.
In 2003, The Guardian started the film production company GuardianFilms, headed by journalist Maggie O'Kane. Much of the company's output is documentary made for television– and it has included Salam Pax's Baghdad Blogger for BBC Two's daily flagship Newsnight, some of which have been shown in compilations by CNN International, Sex On The Streets and Spiked, both made for the UK's Channel 4 television.
"GuardianFilms was born in a sleeping bag in the Burmese rainforest," wrote O'Kane in 2003. "I was a foreign correspondent for the paper, and it had taken me weeks of negotiations, dealing with shady contacts and a lot of walking to reach the cigar-smoking Karen twins– the boy soldiers who were leading attacks against the country's ruling junta. After I had reached them and written a cover story for the newspaper's G2 section, I got a call from the BBC's documentary department, which was researching a film on child soldiers. Could I give them all my contacts?" "The plight of the Karen people, who were forced into slave labour in the rainforest to build pipelines for oil companies (some of them British), was a tale of human suffering that needed to be told by any branch of the media that was interested. I handed over all the names and numbers I had, as well as details of the secret route through Thailand to get into Burma. Good girl. Afterwards– and not for the first time– it seemed to me that we at The Guardian should be using our resources ourselves. Instead of providing contact numbers for any independent TV company prepared to get on the phone to a journalist, we should make our own films."
According to GuardianFilms's own webpage, its international work has focused on training talented local journalists based on the premise that "the era of a traditional London or Washington based foreign correspondent or fireman is coming to an end and the world urgently needs a more searching, challenging journalism brought to us by people who speak the language and can secure access far beyond the 'Green Zone Journalist' limits of the traditional correspondent". It says it is especially focused on reporting the Muslim world in a more challenging manner, and has trained a number of journalists in Iraq, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.
GuardianFilms has received several broadcasting awards. In addition to two Amnesty International Media Awards in 2004 and 2005, The Baghdad Blogger: Salam Pax won a Royal Television Society Award in 2005. Baghdad: A Doctor's Story won an Emmy Award for Best International Current Affairs film in 2007. In 2008, photojournalist Sean Smith's Inside the Surge won the Royal Television Society award for best international news film – the first time a newspaper has won such an award. The same year, The Guardian's Katine website was awarded for its outstanding new media output at the One World Media awards. Again in 2008, GuardianFilms' undercover video report revealing vote rigging by Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party during the 2007 Zimbabwe election won best news programme of the year at the Broadcast Awards.
The paper's nickname The Grauniad (sometimes abbreviated as "Graun") originated with the satirical magazine Private Eye. This anagram played on The Guardian's early reputation for frequent typographical errors, including misspelling its own name as The Gaurdian.
The very first issue of the newspaper contained a number of errors, including a notification that there would soon be some goods sold at atction instead of auction. Fewer typographical errors are seen in the paper since the end of hot-metal typesetting. One Guardian writer, Keith Devlin, suggested that the high number of observed misprints was due more to the quality of the readership than the misprints' greater frequency. The fact that the newspaper was printed in Manchester until 1961 and the early, more error-prone, prints were sent to London by train may have contributed to this image as well. When John Cole was appointed news editor by Alastair Hetherington in 1963, he sharpened the paper's comparatively "amateurish" setup.
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The Guardian has been awarded the National Newspaper of the Year in 1998, 2005, 2010 and 2013 by the British Press Awards, and Front Page of the Year in 2002 ("A declaration of war", 12 September 2001). It was also co-winner of the World's Best-designed Newspaper as awarded by the Society for News Design (2006).
Other awards include:
The Guardian, Observer and its journalists have also won numerous accolades at the British Sports Journalism Awards:
The guardian.co.uk website won the Best Newspaper category three years running in 2005, 2006 and 2007 Webby Awards, beating (in 2005) The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Variety. It has been the winner for six years in a row of the British Press Awards for Best Electronic Daily Newspaper. The site won an Eppy award from the US-based magazine Editor & Publisher in 2000 for the best-designed newspaper online service. The website is known for its commentary on sporting events, particularly its over-by-over cricket commentary.
In 2007, the newspaper was ranked first in a study on transparency that analysed 25 mainstream English-language media vehicles, which was conducted by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda of the University of Maryland. It scored 3.8 out of a possible 4.0.
The Guardian and The Washington Post shared the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service reporting for their coverage of the NSA's and GCHQ's worldwide electronic surveillance program and the document leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The Guardian is the sponsor of two major literary awards: The Guardian First Book Award, established in 1999 as a successor to the Guardian Fiction Award, which had run since 1965, and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, founded in 1967. In recent years the newspaper has also sponsored the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye.
The newspaper also produces The Guardian 100 Best Footballers In The World.
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The Guardian and its sister newspaper The Observer opened The Newsroom, an archive and visitor centre in London, in 2002. The centre preserved and promoted the histories and values of the newspapers through its archive, educational programmes and exhibitions. The Newsroom's activities were all transferred to Kings Place in 2008. Now known as the Guardian News & Media Archive, the archive preserves and promotes the histories and values of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers by collecting and making accessible material that provides an accurate and comprehensive history of the papers. The archive holds official records of The Guardian and The Observer and also seeks to acquire material from individuals who have been associated with the papers. As well as corporate records, the archive holds correspondence, diaries, notebooks, original cartoons and photographs belonging to staff of the papers. This material may be consulted by members of the public by prior appointment. There is also an extensive Manchester Guardian archive at the University of Manchester's John Rylands University Library and there is a collaboration programme between the two archives. The British Library also has a large archive of The Manchester Guardian, available in online, hard copy, microform, and CD-ROM in their British Library Newspapers collection.
In November 2007 The Guardian and The Observer made their archives available over the internet via DigitalArchive. The current extent of the archives available are 1821 to 2000 for The Guardian and 1791 to 2000 for The Observer: these archives will eventually run up to 2003.
The Newsroom's other components were also transferred to Kings Place in 2008. The Guardian's Education Centre provides a range of educational programmes for students and adults. The Guardian's exhibition space was also moved to Kings Place, and has a rolling programme of exhibitions that investigate and reflect upon aspects of news and newspapers and the role of journalism. This programme often draws on the archive collections held in the GNM Archive.
citing: [Manchester Guardian, 28 September 1870; Manchester Free Lance, 1 October 1870; Prentice's Historical Sketches and Personal Recollections of Manchester; personal knowledge.]
According to Alec Muffett, an experienced security researcher who spoke to Gizmodo, the Guardian’s story is “major league fuckwittage.”
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