The Guardian is stepping up its campaign of holding out the begging bowl to guilt-trip liberal readers into rescuing it from financial oblivion.
The lefty news site is rolling out lengthier, more persistent pleas to remind people that it cannot cover its own costs.
Notification about the paper’s “membership” scheme have begun to appear at the end of every article, encouraging readers to supplement its ad and circulation revenue with voluntary hand-outs.
The scheme has been around since 2014. But the means by which the paper tries to make readers feel guilty for reading its content without paying are getting steadily more emotive:
It is a marked difference from just a few months ago, when the favoured a one-line plea, asking for a £49 yearly subscription:
The focus has switched from talking up the value of their own reporting to bemoaning tough market conditions and how expensive their staff are.
Now it offers a choice between being a “supporter” or giving a single cash donation.
It mentions no figures on the article page, but readers who click through will find that being a regular “supporter” costs £5 a month (i.e. £60 a year), while suggested one-off donations start at £25.
The scheme has brought in some extra cash to the newsroom – but, according to insiders, nowhere near enough. Even laying off 278 staffers over summer hasn’t helped.
A long piece by POLITICO in late October reported a former executive at the company lamenting that the sums for the paper’s future “just don’t add up”.
The paper’s losses are currently absorbed by the Scott Trust charity, which owns the company, and has cash reserves of some £760 million.
But the current rate of losses means the funds – meant to sustain the paper “in perpetuity”, will be gone in about a decade.
Rivals have begun to openly mock the parlous financial state of the paper. Daily Mail managing editor Alex Bannister wrote the newspaper a letter last week asking what right they had to “lecture” foes like the Mail while losing cash hand over fist.
A spokesman for The Guardian told Heat Street that the site now has some 75,000 paying members. She said new, emotional posts are part of a “series of tests” to lure in even more people.