The Guardian's mobile sell out

Newspapers are a business, and selling out is better than not selling at all, as the Guardian might tell us

by Henry Hill on 29 October 2012 06:31

Not on the newsstand, of course. Don’t be silly. Instead, it seems the controllers of that near-bankrupt paper have finally managed to put a price on those principles of theirs.

The other day the Guardian, alongside the Independent, the Telegraph and several other papers, gave over their front and back pages to Metro-style full-page advertisements. Who had bought this extraordinary coverage? Vodafone.

Of course, the move makes good sense financially. As newspaper circulation continues to decline, the need to find new ways to wring money out of them is going to become more and more critical. Whilst it is slightly depressing to see broadsheets having to do this, if that’s the nature of today’s print media market then so be it.

Yet this is the same Vodafone whose enviable tax efficiency has been a long-running source of fury for Guardianistas and spawned reels of ‘tax-dodging fat cat’ coverage in its pages. Commercially sound as this deal may be, it can’t have made a pleasant breakfast surprise for the Guardian’s remaining readership.

Perhaps this explains why an article allowing Vodafone to defend their tax record – and basically pitch their new 4G product – had appeared in the paper the day before, to soften the blow.

If financial necessity has finally driven the Guardian to compromise ideological purity for commercial viability, then that is to be welcomed by anybody who cherishes having a broad range of editorial stances in the British press. Selling your front page as advertising is probably a better bet than that damned hotel, or its ‘vision’ of becoming essentially a big blog.

I can’t help but wonder what the mood was in Vodafone’s UK office when word went out that they’d bought the front page of their high-minded persecutor – and that thought must certainly have played on the minds of the Guardian’s staff.

But newspapers are a business, and selling out is better than not selling at all.

Henry Hill is a UK Conservative blogger and author of the popular Dilettante blog. He is the Editor of Open Unionism and tweets at @Dilettante11

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