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Who guarded the Guardian? I did

Journalism cannot ignore the digital future

In Washington, in April, I had a public conversation with Marty Baron, the tough, oldschool Editor of the Washington Post, recently celebrated in the film Spotlight. The question came from the floor—how much longer can print survive? Baron shrugged and said he didn’t know—five, 10, 15 years? He grew up with print, loved print: “But we spend 99 per cent of our time thinking about digital.” So, these days, do most editors.

Stephen Glover’s piece about the Guardian in last month’s issue (“Who Guards the Guardian?” April) appears oblivious to this debate. He is, in Marty Baron’s terms, a one per center: fondly harking back to the age of print and, on the evidence of this piece, bereft of ideas about the digital future.

Glover rehearses old history: the Guardian should have stayed as a guest on Richard Desmond’s worn-out presses despite our print contract nearing its end. But we had to move to full colour—the old presses were mainly black and white. Two external consultants advised the board on costs. Moving to the “Berliner” format was not more expensive than the other options the board examined. If Glover thinks there are endless contract printing opportunities in the UK today he hasn’t been paying attention. News International alone spent some £350m on vast printing plants in 2008.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s May issue: Simon Taylor and Bronwen Maddox on why Hinkley Point C is an expensive gamble that might not pay off. Philip Collins examines Iain Duncan Smith’s tenure as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and Lionel Shriver reveals why she stopped fighting being female. Alan Rusbridger responds to last month’s piece on the Guardian by Stephen Glover. Also in this issue: Nicholas Soames says there’s no such thing as "Project Fear” and Howard Davies reviews Melvyn King’s new book and suggests that we are vulnerable to another financial crisis. Plus Ruth Dudley Edwards examines the fading myths of the Easter Rising and Owen Hatherley suggests it’s time to look for a Plan B to solve London’s housing issues.
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