Friday, 27 May 2016

The Beaker view on the Guardian: Suppose it's Gone Forever?

Is the end of the Guardian in sight? The most recent ABC data shows that its circulation is down 3.8% year on year. It is very nearly half of one percent of the adult population; far less than that of the Telegraph, Mail or any other non-smug newspaper..

The study also shows that the Guardian is extremely bad at either making converts or retaining cradle readers. It can no longer depend on its heartland of moderate leftist voters. The two big left-wing parties, the LibDems and Labour, lost vast numbers of votes late year. It is only the smallest and most self-consciously left-wing forms of Socialism (Corbynisn) that manage to retain believers, in part no doubt because they feel cut off from the society around them.

This decline in self-identification probably has very little to do with belief. Guardian readers have always been heretics, with only the vaguest notion of what progressive views are, and still less of an allegiance to them. The difference is now that they don't even bother reading articles by Giles Fraser, even if they still hold the same vague convictions about being nice to people or the idea that Waitrose is somehow right.
The entire Guardian readership at an Owen Jones
talk on "how to be a really rich socialist"

Over the last 50 years “Polly Toynbee” has come to stand for the opposite of logic and reason. This is partly an outcome of the sheer drivel she writes, and her overwhelming belief that she is right about everything. “The Guardian” now appears to young people as pretentious ageing hippies, whose main purpose is to pretend to be really right-on in their sexuality, in the service of aspiring to some kind of sixties hipness. Supporting the Labour party was always going to be a high-risk strategy for a newspaper that tries to appeal to middle-class people. But the Guardian was so much a part of the old liberal state that life in post-liberal England was never going to be easy.

It’s hard to see a route back for the Guardian. One of the most striking features of the ABC data is that the only people reading newspapers just want to read about the weather, health scares and Princess Di conspiracies. Meanwhile, most new Guardian readers are just people who wonder where the Independent went. “Market Share” turns out to be a game that newspapers play with each other, and not with the outside world. The Guardian, which used to be as straightforward a route into liberalism as the Telegraph was for conservatism, has become very much alien and utterly irrational. All it now has is the people who comment BTL on "Comment is Free", in between shouting at Question Time and eating quinoa. Time is running out.

1 comment :

  1. I shall avoid these disturbing thoughts by moving to the quiet Cambridgeshire village of Sputtering-in-the-Muesli.

    The other day I met a Guardian reader in the wild. He is a member of The Oriental Club and a friend of Mrs Rupert Murdoch's. He also runs a web site which helps people to find their nearest performance of choral evensong.


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