Happy birthday to The Manchester Guardian

 by Martin Belam, 8 May 2009

It was The Guardian's birthday this week. The first edition of The Manchester Guardian was published on May 5th 1821. In those days the business model was to have the front page covered in small text ads - something that no newspaper continues to do today. We have a reproduction of that front page hanging on the wall by the ultra-modern news room in Kings Place, and there is also a digital copy in this gallery of past Guardian front pages.

The Manchester Guardian hanging in Kings Place

The Manchester Guardian was a local regional paper that went national, and which, as winning three Webbys this week testifies, has now gone international. The fact that the Webbys included an award for audio content, and for the user-generated realm of CiF Belief, shows how far the paper has evolved from the print version.

The Manchester Guardian

Still, as everybody knows, whether international, national or regional, all of us in the news business are wondering where our future revenue is going to be derived from, as print declines and news on the Internet stubbornly remains free at the point of delivery.

It is very easy to be a harbinger of doom and a naysayer about the future, and a lot harder to keep being optimistic and to work on the innovation and new models that we need to see these great old media brands survive into the 2020s and beyond. That is why I'll be spending today in Birmingham at JEEcamp, hoping to have conversations that are inspiring and aspirational about the future business models of journalism in the UK.

1 Comment

Just on front-page adverts - it's not quite a redundant business model; most of the Milton Keynes freesheets still have wrap-around front cover with full page adverts. "You usual paper is inside" they usually add, helpfully, lest you assume Dominos or DFS is sending a seventy page advertising supplement...

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