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July 7, 2003 5:40 PM   Subscribe

It’s not a mass-produced American product. It's either "a turnaround in American publishing, or... radically wrongheaded" - but it looks like The Guardian may be launching a version in the USA soon. Could such a venture lead to the demise of the venerable old Fleet Street institution, owned by an independent trust? Is it overreaching ambition or a daring entry into niche market? More interesting to me, are there any similar non-profit media organisations in your part of the world (wherever that may be)?
posted by dash_slot- (13 comments total)

 
I suspect the crucial element here may be which distribution model they go for. In the UK, there's a paper shop every half a mile, where we go for our dog walks and crafty cigs. Some folks get their papers delivered in the mornings. Does the same hold over that side of the pond - and will the numbers stack up?

I have to say that I grew up on the Grauniad (there - that saves anyone else from committing that pun!), and - tho' I now get most of my news from the web - I'll always love the paper for it's willingness to challenge power, for it's iconoclasm in all things, and for the crossword (one of the finest in the UK). But I do worry that this could be a bridge too far... do they know enough about the US market?

And how many UK papers are successful in the States anyway (can you tell I'm worried)?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:51 PM on July 7, 2003


hmmm. we were discussing how americans do politics at lunch today. even the smartest liberal americans i know are obsessed with personalities - there's this weird personal hatred for bush, for example (see mefi for copious tedious examples). i don't see how the guardian's going to fit in with that scene.

on the other hand, i don't think that much is at stake. something similar already exists (a weekly international edition) - sounds like they're going to add a few american-sourced articles to that.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:55 PM on July 7, 2003


I suppose its probably not a bad idea considering the amount of coverage it gets on sites such as Metafilter each week. It would also also allow those of a more rightwing persuasion to see that its actually a very well written newspaper rather than just part of a vast leftwing conspiracy to install a new world order controlled by Jewish Swiss Freemasons. Much like Dr.Pepper :Try it, you might like it.

And you would get to see those nifty Steve Bell cartoons everyday too. Which can only be a good thing.
posted by Damienmce at 6:11 PM on July 7, 2003


I will proudly be one of the 153 subscribers they'll have stateside.
posted by laz-e-boy at 6:16 PM on July 7, 2003


There are a couple of reasons why this might not be such a bad business move on The Guardian's part. First, they received a big spike in traffic from American visitors during the war with Iraq, and they're trying to capitalize on the brand recognition. The publishers of The Guardian (for good reason) sense that there is a hunger in the USA for what is perceived to be a source of "alternative media," but one that still has high production values and a solid journalistic pedigree behind it.

Secondly, American weekly newsmagazines are, well, weak, and I could easily see a demand for a text-heavy magazine that is (even slightly) less expensive than The Economist and does not exude an aura of "the publication for the conservative rich businessman."
posted by deanc at 6:26 PM on July 7, 2003


I am excited about this. There are different ways to measure success. Is the Guardian going to put People and Time out of business? No. But they can succeed in a "macintosh" sort of way: by identifying and cultivating a loyal market.

My question is "is this just another Harper's?" 'Cause if so, I'll subscrube. :)
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 6:37 PM on July 7, 2003


less expensive than The Economist and does not exude an aura of "the publication for the conservative rich businessman."

I'd place the Economist, in all its bitchy glory, as something closer to "the publication for the internationalist policy wonk" They'll pretty consistently go after business types as enemies of liberal capitalism, and they're not at all social conservatives or traditionalists, I don't think.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:06 PM on July 7, 2003


andrew cooke, "...there's this weird personal hatred for bush" - unlike the personal hatred, on the UK left, for Maggy Thatcher?

Damienmce, Deanc - I hope you are both right on.
posted by troutfishing at 7:51 PM on July 7, 2003


What's weird about hating Bush or Maggie? Anyway, that's not a right/left thing. The conservatives had a weird hatred for Clinton, which I couldn't understand at all. How do you think the papers would have treated Kinnock if he had been elected?

I'm a Grauniad reader as well. I'll even buy the paper after reading the news on it's web page! I don't know enough about the American market to know if they have a chance of being successful or not. From what I gather, there is at least a gap in the market which it's going for. The fact that it's British might even work for it, in staking out a reputation. BBC America survives with this niche audience, so maybe it has a chance?
posted by salmacis at 12:55 AM on July 8, 2003


And being written helps. The very thing that every American publisher eschews—long articles by actual writers—starts to look like something valuable.

A successful gambit of this sort by the Guardian could only be good news all around; unfortunately I'm not there to support them, but if I were, I'd buy two subscriptions...

Generally speaking, American publishing has become a travesty. The last time I looked (and it's been some time), outside of Harpers and a few niche publications it's all "Info-Lite - the Abridged Version!". Except the word "Abridged" would be changed to "Better Tasting, Less Filling" or "I Can't Believe it's Not News!". I guess I sound bitter, but that's the taste that has been in my mouth ever since the entire publishing world was handed over to marketing executives.
posted by taz at 1:16 AM on July 8, 2003


I, for one, welcome our new independent news source.
posted by nofundy at 4:45 AM on July 8, 2003


I wonder if The Grauniad will settle on US or British spelling or continue its venerable tradition of forging new ground.
posted by vbfg at 9:49 AM on July 8, 2003


yeah, we discussed thatcher too. i think there are three differences:
- i find the reaction to bush much stronger than what i remember towards thatcher.
- there seemed to be similar stuff about clinton from the right (and thatcher is surely more exceptional than bush).
- the dislike of thatcher took much longer to grow.
of course, this is all just personal opinion, i don't have market research to back it up.

despite my experience of thatcher's years, i still find the response of american friends to bush surprising.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:35 PM on July 8, 2003


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