Campaign to ‘save the Obs’ gathers pace

12:17 am - August 5th 2009

by Newswire    

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A campaign has been kicked off by former Observer journalists and supporters to save the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper.

Yesterday morning the @savetheobserver Twitter account had a hundred followers. By the end of the day it had accumulated over 1,500 followers.

On Facebook, a group too has been set up to ‘save the Observer’.

The threat to the newspaper was covered last night in Newsnight, with former home affairs editor Martin Bright defending the paper.

You can watch that episode on BBC iPlayer.

Writing on the Next Left blog, former employee and Fabian general-secretary Sunder Katwala said:

There are many broader issues here about the future viability of news journalism, the future of British newspapers and what happens to the public interest if an effective business model can not be found for the internet age. I much enjoyed Will Davies’ incisive, sceptical review of Chris Anderson’s Free in Prospect. A heartfelt rallying cry from the traditionalists has been published by David Simon (of ‘The Wire’ fame) in the Columbia Journalism Review, arguing for the New York Times and Washington Post to become fully pay-only products online to save professional journalism. The barriers to this are enormous, yet viable alternatives remain unclear.

But the immediate message is much simpler – Save the Obs!

Declaration of interest: I worked for The Observer a few years ago. But, before and since, I have had an irrational level of addiction to newspapers in general, and Sunday newspapers in particular. And, whatever their faults, I think they are more important to our democracy than we realise.

Yesterday a story on the Media Guardian website said parent company GMG was, “considering options for the future of its Sunday newspaper, the Observer, as part of a strategic company review.”

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Reader comments

1. Luis Enrique

If a non-profit left-wing entity like GMG cannot “save” a loss-making business, there’s no hope that the like of Vestas will

It’s got the huge losses of the Guardian to contend with first.
Apparently the Scott Trust’s primary duty is the well-being of the Guardian, and the Guardian alone.

So far the large profits from Emap and AutoTrader, helped along by some good tax planning of course in alliance with private equity firm Apax – those Guardianistas are not strong on consistency – have been more than enough for both Guardian and Observer, but obviously times are tougher now.

(Of course the Scott Trust itself is the result of inheritance tax avoidance.
What would Richard Murphy think?!)

One would imagine that the golden goose of public sector job adverts might be laying fewer eggs in the future too.

Still I look forward to seeing Seumas Milne on the picket line.

My favourite Private Eye story – which sums guardianista-ness up in a nutshell – is that Rusbridger cycles to work each morning but has his bike taxi-ed back home in the evening as he goes out elsewhere.

The basic aim is to move to a 7 day Guardian. This has been desired (well, desired by some at least) for a number of years.

Whether you think this is a good idea or bad, well, that’s up to you. But that is indeed the aim of those “reconsidering the Observer’s position”.

Brought to you from a very reliable source indeed inside The Observer. Not that it’s exactly been a secret for some time….

4. organic cheeseboard

i’d have no particular problem with a 7 day guardian. the obs lost it with alton and never really got it back.

there’s also far too much dead wood – anthony and cohen spring to mind, but robert mccrum is the textbook example.

Surely the best way to ‘save the observer’ is to start buying it every week?

Bring back Tiny Rowland!

“We apologise for last week’s story about Dr Hastings Banda in which we implied he was not universally beloved by the people of Malawi and had engaged in unorthodox financial practices, an allegation which we now accept to be wholly untrue following interference from our proprietor.”

Donald – lose the last five words or you’re sacked.

Part of the problem, surely, is the fat-cat pay levels and ludicrous over-staffing. GMG employees should take a less materialistic and selfish view of the world.

At the moment the Observer isn’t worth saving. It lost its way under Alton: Nick Davies’ revelations about how government spin was being stove-piped onto the front page wasn’t surprising, because that is the way it appeared when reading it in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. There needed to be a re-launch if there was to be a future for the Observer, to draw a line under that period, but that hasn’t happened. It still feels as if it is thumbing its nose at its core readership, rather than challenging them intelligently, and it cannot go on doing that indefinitely.

9. organic cheeseboard

Yes, I agree guano. Opinion pieces are either contrarian nonsense designed to annoy, as opposed to challenge – see Barbara Ellen, Nick Cohen, Andrew Anthony; or they’re there to soothe and reaffirm. There’s no real challenge at all, it’s all very tabloid – whatever you tihnk about the guardian’s comment policy, it’s a very broad spectrum, and you simply cannot say the same about the observer. Far too much nose-thumbing, and a real intellectual laziness, as well.
as i said, I’ll miss the sport coverage, and maybe the film reviews, but not much else. it feels like it’s been run as a club for an in-crowd for far too long. and i’m not sure I’d altogether mind a sunday Grauniad, either.

The private eye coverage of this is very interesting, incredibly pro-Obs despite the Eye having serialised flat earth News – doubtless informed by the fact that nick Cohen works for both publications…

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  6. Justin McKeating

    Let it rot…

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