The US operation of the Guardian is a pulsating heap of failure, according to current and former employees.
Journalists and executives connected to the uber-liberal outlet’s American venture queued up to twist the knife as it sinks towards financial and editorial oblivion.
At least 20 current and former staffers contributed to a bitchy, 5,000-word deep dive into the outlet’s decline, published this week by BuzzFeed.
They claimed that the British company’s attempt to colonize America was beset by the financial incompetence which is a hallmark of its London outfit, exacerbated by a staff of ignorant expat Brits who were “in it for the tourism”.
According to BuzzFeed, the Guardian went from being the darling of the US media scene to a virtual irrelevance in a couple of years.
(Not by coincidence, BuzzFeed is a competitor to the Guardian, and has ended up hiring many former contributors).
Despite the kudos it earned from publishing the proceeds of files stolen by Edward Snowden from the NSA, it reportedly botched the US election and has dwindled since.
The outlet won a Pulitzer Prize (jointly with the Washington Post) in 2014 for the Snowden files, then ballooned to a staff count of 140.
At the peak of its hubris, it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an enormous downtown Manhattan HQ, which it then had to abandon when swingeing cuts were implemented to stem its losses.
According to BuzzFeed, the US staff is now down to a comparatively paltry 45.
The real decline apparently came during the general election, when it parachuted in ignorant British staff who viewed the bureau as “little more than an extended tourism opportunity”, with staff making expensive jaunts to irrelevant campaign stops to get “a good Instagram post”.
All the the while they needed to have the trickier elements of the US electoral system explained to them by disgruntled locals.
They also struggled for relevance in the campaign itself because they were still viewed as foreign press.
Many complained that Hillary Clinton’s campaign in particular kept them at arm’s length, and they never got an exclusive interview with her (unlike BuzzFeed).
By contrast, the Guardian‘s main British rival in the US – DailyMail.com – made major inroads with its election coverage, and scored several exclusive interviews with Donald Trump (here’s one, and another).
They also unearthed a new sexting story about Anthony Weiner which ended in the FBI renewing its investigation into Hillary Clinton – a pivotal moment which some claim cost her the election.
According to BuzzFeed, the Guardian‘s remaining staff are bitter and humbled, their dream of taking America’s liberal media crown permanently out of reach.