So is The Guardian worth £500 a year?

The Guardian’s launched a new membership scheme. Top ranking costs £540 a year to be a patron. Cheaper than membership of the London Library I believe.

Two questions arise. The first being that ever loved point, revealed preferences. They’ve done the focus groups, checked that everyone says this is a great idea, Oh Yes, I’ll sign up.

But what is the gap going to be (and there will be a gap, the only question is how large) between talk and coughing up the cash?

The second is, well, is it going to be worth it for me? After all, the paper does provide a near unlimited series of stories for me to chunter about and correct. Should I aid in the survival of the source of so much of my material?

33 comments on “So is The Guardian worth £500 a year?

  1. This will be success simply because the taxpayer will pick up the bill: every school, hospital, and public office in the land will simply pay up (multiple times) and put it down as essential expenditure.

  2. Seems like one of Rusbridgers “hmm yes, jolly good ” ideas that will be quietly dropped a year down the line. Did they ever open that hotel?

    So for 60 quid a month you can visit the printing press (my Dad did this for a living, they aren’t the most interesting places in existence), tour the newsroom (aye, I bet the hacks will luurrvvee having a bunch of randoms tramping around) or attend a lecture (which you can do anyway, you still have to buy a ticket).

    Save ur money Worstall – that would pay for a splendid dinner or a night out on the piss.

  3. The dear old Guardian has shown in the past that its grasp of this rather distasteful “capitalism” lark is a bit tenuous. Their coffee shop was an utter flop, the farmer’s market was a disaster and they can’t even run their core business of printing specious earnest drivel profitably

  4. And yet…

    With the rise of Internet no – nothings (I mean Ritchie; not you) it becomes harder for journalism as a viable trade (you’re not angling for profession are you Tim?).So I’m not sure we should be completely sneering about this paper’s attempts to monetise.

    That said, sustainable success is about finding a product the public will buy WITHOUT GIMMICKS. So I really don’t think this idea has legs.

  5. Comment is free, as someone (CP Scott) wrote. Save your money, Tim. They’ll still put all the errors and annoyances that are the grist you refer to online. The lentil eaters won’t pay up either.

  6. If Alan Rusbridger spends time dreaming up schemes like this, I’m worried that he’s neglecting his piano.

  7. Now I wonder if that £540 is taxable in the hands of the Graun?

    Or if they’ve set it up as some sort of mutual thing?

    At least we can be assured that the World’s Greatest Tax Expert will soon let us know.

  8. @john miller – the Graun makes losses large enough that this income will probably not make it profitable; the Guardian and Observer sell about 200,000 copies a day each, give or take. Let’s be generous and say that the average actual readership is about 400k people and they get 25% take up for the premium offering. That’s 100,000 people at £500 per year each. Even if you take that as straight income that’s £50m before any admin costs or actually paying for anything for the punters who are coughing up. Losses are running at £30m/year and it must have huge carried forward tax losses on the balance sheet, the kind of things the journos complain about other companies using to offset payment. So even if their offering is so cheap that they drag GMG into pre-tax profit, I bet you a quid they won’t end up paying CT

  9. The cheaper package costs £135/yr, but look at what you’re getting:

    20% Discount
    +1 Guest
    Live stream events
    Membership card
    Early Booking

    A plastic membership card? They’re seriously touting that as a benefit? For roughly the same money, the BBC provides me with a dozen TV & radio channels. For the same money, I can buy a year’s worth of mobile phone connectivity. And so on. They really must think their customers are mugs. The events are all very London-centric too; how many readers of the old Manchester Guardian will sign up?

  10. @ Andrew M– “The events are all very London-centric too; how many readers of the old Manchester Guardian will sign up?”

    Aye, good point. Not sure if Rusbridger and chums believe their own bullshit, but the rank and file of the hippies who buy a physical copy (retired teachers in not-London) aren’t going to trudge down to the smoke to see a lecture on how to knit an eco-friendly T34 using organic mung-beans.

    No doubt they’ll get a decent turn-outs for the big names (Brand/Jones) but most of it will be grade-A waffle by single issue bores. Even the lentil-munchers (splendid phrase btw) aren’t going to go for that.

    Also, how much does it cost nowadays to turn a large shed into a ‘collaborative space’? The concept art looks very swishy, and all those glass dividers and designer chairs aren’t going to buy themselves.

    So yah… calling it now – the whole thing gets quietly shelved in 18 months with huge losses.

  11. Why do want to pay for Owen Jones etc to get more money?
    @”Even the lentil-munchers (splendid phrase btw) aren’t going to go for that.”
    I like lentils but I can’t stand the Guardian – far too left wing.

  12. Flatcap Army said “it must have huge carried forward tax losses”

    I don’t think it does – didn’t it sell its tax losses to Autotrader every year? So I think the old losses have been mostly mopped up.

    But it sold Autotrader earlier this year – selling an income-generating capital asset to cover revenue losses, very silly.

    I suspect that explains both why they are trying out all these new ways of hoping to make money and where they got the cash from to pour down all their new holes.

  13. In a word – no, and not just the Graun. I find it quite sufficient to glance through the headlines of several mainstream papers, very few of the articles are worth a click or worth paying for. Many of the dead tree magazines are a bit like a cheap burger – you wish you hadn’t. The blogs and the comments seem much better value and a lot more amusing.

  14. £540 a year? I would rather be spanked by a low-end illegal African prostitute every month. It would probably cost the about same. And do more to relieve the lot of the poor. And frankly reading the Guardian would be a lot more painful.

    Not to mention I would feel a lot less dirty getting a hand job while trussed up like a turkey than I would reading the little rag.

  15. Andrew M: The cheaper package costs £135/yr, but look at what you’re getting:

    20% Discount
    +1 Guest
    Live stream events
    Membership card
    Early Booking

    What you’re REALLY buying is a lifestyle statement and reinforcement of your preconceptions.

    They really must think their customers are mugs.

    Yes, but are they mistaken?

  16. >So for 60 quid a month you can visit the printing press (my Dad did this for a living,

    Your Dad visited printing presses for a living? That’s a strange job.

  17. “a bit like a cheap burger – you wish you hadn’t”

    This is one of those bits of perfect truth that should be taught in schools.

  18. “They’ve done the focus groups, checked that everyone says this is a great idea, Oh Yes, I’ll sign up.”

    And especially if you (as Rusbridger says) do it in a group, where people will be more likely to gain approval.

    This whole idea of there being any value in the exchange of ideas is just ridiculous. Newspapers made money because of the high barriers to entry to into the market because of the cost of setting up a newspaper and the limited amount of space on news stands. With the barriers gone, the value was almost entirely destroyed. The Graun is the 2nd or 3rd biggest online newspaper in the world and it’s losing millions every year.

    What value there is left is in the columnists, and a lot of them like Jancis Robinson are getting smart to that and creating their own websites, because they can collect all the rent for their skills.

    There’s really no way to save professional newspapers, any more than there is of saving companies that make film or shops selling CDs.

  19. We believe that the open exchange of information, ideas and opinions has the power to change the world for the better.

    Yeah, it’s called the internet. You don’t need a poncey shed in central London to do this.

  20. You too can fight back against the oligarchs donating distribution from behind a pay wall, privatising once trusted information blah blah blah. All you need, in order to join the fight for the free distribution of news, ideas, dammit freedom itself… is give us £540.

    Nah, fuck off and ask some teacher.

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