Does The Observer have a future in its current form?

The Observer: owner Guardian Media Group is considering the Sunday title's future
The Observer: owner Guardian Media Group is considering the Sunday title's future

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, has admitted that closure of The Observer is an option as it attempts to reduce debts of close to £90m. Does it have a future?

YES - Roger Alton, editor, The Independent (former editor of The Observer)
Of course The Observer has a future,  although I am sure its format will change and evolve, just as the paper I read now is very different from The Observer I grew up with in the 1950s and 1960s.

At the same time, the voice is still recognisably the same - progressive, modern, mischievous, lively, non-ideological, campaigning, up-to-the-minute, and, of course, brilliantly written.

There must be tens of millions of pounds in sales and ad revenue flooding through the business. If its corporate management cannot make that work and turn in at least a minor profit, it's not doing its job properly.

The recession has hit many media outlets badly, but there are signs that display advertising is coming back. It sure as hell won't all go to the internet, so it will need an outlet such as The Observer, with its vibrant editorial and innovative and bold portfolio of magazines. I damn well hope so.

NO - Richard Addis, former editor of the Daily Express
Not with its current model. There are not enough people who will pay £2 for just another Sunday newspaper, and too many of those who will, are happy with The Sunday Times.

The Observer has even less of a future as a digital operation or as a magazine. What would it do that others aren't already doing better? But there is a great opportunity for it in print, if it were to make two radical changes.

One would be to develop a distinctive kind of explanatory journalism. There's a looming gap for this.

The second would be to offer itself exclusively for home delivery at minimal cost - say £15 a year - just enough to cover distribution costs. Print, paper and content would be paid for by sponsorship and advertising.

An intelligent Observer, with a strong public service ethos reaching a million or so affluent homes, would be a thing to be proud of.

YES - Lawson Muncaster, managing director, CityAM
The chief executive of Guardian Media Group has to look at The Observer proposition if it is losing around £90m a year. I believe GMG has three options with the title.

It could sell it, close it, or look at addressing and changing the business model. I don't believe anything will happen this year, but there is definitely a quandary for GMG.

GMG will be better selling it off as opposed to closing it, as this will generate money. It does still have a circulation of around 400,000.

I can't see this move to a weekly magazine working out, as there is not really a precedent there.

NO - Dennis Perks, press manager, Total Media
Launching The Observer as a weekly magazine is a bad idea. It will be up against other weekly news magazines such as The Week and Newsweek, which already have longer-standing reader bases.

It may even shoot itself in the foot and divert readers away from The Guardian instead. We are probably the last generation who will read paid-for daily papers and I'm sure my son won't be buying The Observer in 20 years' time.

There isn't the market for as many titles as there was in the 1980s and 1990s. People's lives are getting busier and we have less and less free time.

This has resulted in us being less concerned with in-depth reports and leaning more towards short, punchy headlines and quick summaries to get our daily news hit. This is demonstrated perfectly by the popularity of Twitter.

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