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July 25, 2023, 1:37 p.m.
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LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   July 25, 2023

The Guardian is an international news organization — and it wants to become even more international. That’s not news, exactly, but it’s the thread running through two announcements today from the liberal U.K. daily owned by the Scott Trust.

First, the Guardian Media Group released its annual financial statements, for the fiscal year ended on April 2, 2023 (for whatever odd reason). The top-line number is good: a new record for annual revenue, £264.4 million. And the growth is international and digital:

Our international growth continues — during the year international revenues grew to £93.2m and now account for 35% of revenues overall following sustained investment in journalism and digital capabilities. Guardian Australia and Guardian US continue to go from strength to strength and we will invest in both markets to drive further growth.

Our reader revenue strategy has continued to mature. We are now one of the top reader-supported news publishers in the world, all while ensuring our journalism remains open to all. Overall digital reader revenues grew 7.6% to £81.9m, with over 50% coming from outside the UK.

Overall revenue increased by £8.6 million (3.4%) to £264.4 million through continued growth from digital reader revenues, which now make up 31% of overall revenues. However, the economic environment continues to be challenging, particularly in the UK, where our advertising and print revenue streams faced sustained structural challenges.

The strategy includes realigning its operating model to reflect a reader-centric strategy, increased investment in journalism and product offerings, development of industry leading data capabilities and continued development of deep, personalised and trusted relationships with our readers. A three year investment plan has been agreed by the board which supports the following strategic pillars; knowing our audience; accelerating reader revenues; growing internationally; realising greater value from our readers; and transforming our technology, capabilities and culture.

Four years ago, The Guardian turned a profit for the first time in recent memory, and the strategy that got them there then is the same one they’re using now: digital international growth built on reader revenue. What’s distinct about The Guardian’s approach is that it has no paywall — merely a nagwall that constantly reminds you how many Guardian articles you’ve read this year and how proud your mum would be if you opened up your wallet. This year, the profit swung to a loss, but only because of new investments in staffing and international growth. (Total staff salaries zoomed up in a single year from £107.9 million to £127.3 million, with an increase in headcount of more than 9%. Newsroom staffing now tops 1,000.)

Speaking of newsroom staffing and international ambitions: Today’s other announcement is tied to the Scott Trust’s March report investigating the company’s historical attachments to the transatlantic slave trade. It promised “restorative justice,” and part of that work is in a new commitment to journalism in the regions most affected by those attachmentsnamely, in Jamaica and on the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.

The Guardian has today announced it is recruiting several new editorial positions, including dedicated correspondents for the Caribbean, South America and Africa, and reporter roles in the UK and the US specialising in race, equity, community affairs, health and inequality.

The seven new roles aim to boost the scope and ambition of the Guardian’s coverage of underrepresented regions and communities, and come in response to research which found links between the founders of the Manchester Guardian and historical transatlantic slavery.

The roles are:

  • US senior reporter, race and equity covering race, identity and inequality for both US and international audiences, including stories on culture, health, education, social justice, politics, religion, education, and the legacies of American slavery. A second US reporter, race and equity will report across similar topics, while also prioritising ideas about Black communities in southern states, including the Gullah Geechee people (as identified in the Scott Trust’s research).
  • Three dedicated correspondent roles — a Caribbean correspondent, a South America correspondent and an Africa correspondent — each covering daily news and analysis, features, multimedia content and coverage for other non-news sections, particularly stories affecting African-descended populations.
  • A Manchester-based UK community affairs correspondent, focusing on Black, Asian and ethnic-minority populations and racial justice issues more widely, and a UK health and inequalities correspondent highlighting racial justice issues within the health industry, including the NHS.

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