Print to digital: the case of The Guardian

The Guardian's annual results for the year ending March 2012 make for grim reading. A loss of £48m for the media group [as reported in the FT, Nov 5 2012] indicates that digital revenues are never going to grow fast enough to make up for the print losses. Total digital revenues grew 16 per cent to £45.7m. But this is total revenue, while the larger figure is the annual loss. Is there any way out of this situation?

The situation in the Upshall household is indicative. The parents bought (and still buy) the paper, and the daughters would read the print edition avidly, but now the daughters live independently they read the newspaper online, never in print. Perhaps it's a generation thing - but surely there are plenty of ways out of the impasse. The Guardian group itself owns a substantial stake in Auto Trader, once a print publication and now a flourishing and money-making web operation. I've met people who wouldn't pay to read the news but will happily subscribe to get access to the puzzles and games in the Telegraph. Since I mainly use the Guardian website to track down recipes I remember reading a few weeks ago, perhaps the newspaper could charge for access to these. Although, as a print subscriber, I wouldn't be too happy about paying again for what I have already bought. Some way of identifying the print subscribers and segmenting them from the more casual user is surely one way to raise more revenue - the Kindle and iPad apps apparently both bring in good income already in that way.