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The Guardian

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The Guardian has used this logo on its masthead since its last major redesign in 1988.

The Guardian is a British newspaper owned by the Guardian Media Group. It is a serious broadsheet newspaper published Monday–Saturday, with relatively left-of-centre politics. Until 1959 it was called The Manchester Guardian, reflecting its provincial origins: the paper is still sometimes referred to by this name, especially in North America. The Guardian has a daily circulation of around 345,000 copies (Jul-Dec 2004) [1] (http://media.guardian.co.uk/presspublishing/tables/0,7680,1393113,00.html), which compares with other UK serious daily newspaper sales of 867,000 for the Daily Telegraph, 616,000 for The Times, and 226,000 for The Independent. The paper is sometimes known as The Grauniad (coined by Private Eye), as a result of frequent typographical errors for which it became infamous, although these are now uncommon. Their Guardian Unlimited web site won the Best Newspaper category in the 2005 Webby Awards, beating the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and Variety. [2] (http://www.webbyawards.com/webbys/current.php#webby_entry_newspaper)

Contents

Ownership

The Guardian is part of the Guardian Media Group of newspapers, radio stations, and new media including The Observer Sunday newspaper, the Manchester Evening News, and Guardian Unlimited, one of the most popular online news resources on the Internet. All the aforementioned are owned by The Scott Trust, a charitable foundation which aims to ensure the newspaper's editorial independence in perpetuity, maintaining its financial health to ensure it does not become vulnerable to take over by for-profit media groups, and the serious compromise of editorial independence that this often brings.

The Guardian and its parent groups are a participant in Project Syndicate [3] (http://www.project-syndicate.org/), established by George Soros, and intervened in 1995 to save the Mail & Guardian in South Africa [4] (http://www.mg.co.za/), but Guardian Media Group sold the majority of its shares in the Mail & Guardian in 2002.

History

The Guardian's Newsroom visitor centre and archive (No 60), with an old sign with the name The Manchester Guardian
Enlarge
The Guardian's Newsroom visitor centre and archive (No 60), with an old sign with the name The Manchester Guardian

The Manchester Guardian was founded in Manchester in 1821 by a group of non-conformist businessmen headed by John Edward Taylor. The prospectus which announced the new publication proclaimed that "it will zealously enforce the principles of civil and religious Liberty … it will warmly advocate the cause of Reform; it will endeavour to assist in the diffusion of just principles of Political Economy; and to support, without reference to the party from which they emanate, all servicable measures."

The first edition was published on May 5, 1821, at which time the Guardian was a weekly, published on Saturdays; the stamp duty on newspapers (4d. per sheet) forced the price up so high that it was uneconomic to publish more frequently. When the stamp duty was cut in 1836 the Guardian added a Wednesday edition; with the abolition of the tax in 1855 it became a daily paper.

Its most famous editor, C. P. Scott, made the Manchester Guardian into a nationally famous newspaper. He was editor for 57 years from 1872, and became its owner when he bought the paper from the estate of Taylor's son in 1907. Under Scott the paper's moderate editorial line became more radical, supporting Gladstone when the Liberals split in 1886, and opposing the Boer War against popular opinion.

In June 1936, to avoid death duty, ownership of the paper was passed to the Scott Trust (named after the last owner, John Russell Scott, who was the first chairman of the Trust). The paper was then noted for its eccentric style, its moralising and its detached attitude to its finances.

Traditionally affiliated with the centrist Liberal Party, and with a northern circulation base, the paper earned a national reputation and the respect of the left during the Spanish Civil War, when along with the now defunct News Chronicle it was the only UK source of news that was not tainted by support for the insurgent nationalists led by General Francisco Franco.

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The Guardian's offices in London

In 1959 the paper dropped "Manchester" from its title, becoming simply The Guardian, and 1964 it moved to London, losing some of its regional agenda but continuing to be heavily subsidised by sales of the less intellectual but much more profitable Manchester Evening News. The financial position remained extremely poor into the 1970s; at one time it was in merger talks with The Times. The paper consolidated its left-wing stance during the 1970s and 1980s but was both shocked and revitalised by the launch of The Independent in 1986 which competed for similar readers and provoked the entire broadsheet industry into a fight for circulation. In 1988 The Guardian had a significant redesign; as well as improving the quality of its printers ink, it also changed its masthead. In 1992 it relaunched its features section as "G2", a tabloid-format supplement. This innovation was widely copied by the other "quality" broadsheets, and ultimately led to the rise of "compact" papers and The Guardian's planned move to the Berliner format. In 1993 the paper declined to participate in the broadsheet 'price war' started by Rupert Murdoch's The Times. Also in 1993, The Guardian bought The Observer from Lonrho, thus gaining a serious Sunday newspaper partner with similar political views.

In 1995, both the Granada Television program World In Action and The Guardian were sued for libel by the then cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, for their allegation that the Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Fahd had paid for Aitken and his wife to stay at the Htel Ritz in Paris, which would have amounted to accepting a bribe on Aitken's part. Aitken publically stated he would fight with "the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play" [5] (http://www.guardian.co.uk/aitken/Story/0,2763,208516,00.html). The court case proceeded, and in 1997 The Guardian produced evidence that Aitken's claim of his wife paying for the hotel stay was untrue. [6] (http://www.guardian.co.uk/aitken/Story/0,2763,208503,00.html) In 1999, Aitken was jailed for perjury and perverting the course of justice. [7] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/258070.stm)

During the Afghanistan and Iraq wars The Guardian attracted a significant proportion of anti-war readers as one of the mass-media media outlets most critical of UK and USA military initiatives. The newspaper also gained readers in the United States where there were few "anti-war" rivals.

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The Guardian's offices in London

Its international weekly edition is now titled The Guardian Weekly, though it retained the title Manchester Guardian Weekly for some years after the home edition had moved to London. It includes sections from a number of other internationally significant newspapers of a somewhat left-of-centre inclination, including Le Monde. In 2004, The Guardian introduced an online digital version of its print edition, allowing readers to download pages from the last 14 issues as a PDF files.

In August 2004, for the US presidential election, the daily "G2" supplement, edited by Ian Katz, launched an experimental letter-writing campaign in Clark County, Ohio, a small county in a swing state. Katz bought a voter list from the county for $25 and asked people to write to those on the list undecided in the election. The point of this venture was for the writers to give Clark County voters a taste of international opinion, without endorsing any candidates. This caused something of a backlash, and on the 21st October, the paper retired the campaign.

The Guardian also has a series of talkboards based on WebX technology that are noted for their mix of political disussion and whimsy. They are spoofed in the Guardian's own regular humorous Chatroom column in G2.

Moving to the Berliner

In 2004, The Guardian announced plans to change to a "Berliner" or "midi" format similar to that used by Le Monde in France and some other European papers; at 470×315 mm, this is slightly larger than a traditional tabloid. Planned for the autumn of 2005 (some have suggested Monday 5 September 2005 as the starting date), this change is either a response to, or has the same cause as, the moves by The Times and The Independent to start publishing in tabloid (or "compact") format.

The advantage that The Guardian sees in the Berliner format is that though it is little wider than a tabloid, and is thus equally easy to read on public transport, its greater height gives more flexibility in page design.

An article in the Independent on Sunday, dated January 30 2005, suggested that the move may be fraught with problems. As of January 2005, no printing press in the UK can produce newspapers in the Berliner format. One of the Guardian's presses is part owned by groups responsible for The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Express who would likely require compensation if The Guardian pulls out. It is contracted to use the plant until 2009. Another press is shared with the Guardian Media Group's north western local tabloid papers, which do not wish to switch to the Berliner format.

The Guardian is rumoured to be spending over 65 million on the project as a whole. The Guardian has now confirmed rumours of an earlier launch date than their original plans for 2006, saying The Guardian will relaunch in the new format in the autumn with the Observer following in early 2006. The papers will be the first UK nationals able to print in full colour on every page.

Supplements

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The Saturday edition of The Guardian includes many sections of varying sizes.

On a weekday The Guardian comes with the G2 supplement containing feature articles, columns, television and radio listings and the quick crossword. Other regular supplements during the week include:

  • Monday: MediaGuardian, Office Hours, Sport
  • Tuesday: EducationGuardian
  • Wednesday: SocietyGuardian (covers the British public sector and related issues)
  • Thursday: Life (covers science), Online
  • Friday: Friday Review (covers music and film)
  • Saturday: The Guide (a weekly listings magazine), Weekend (the colour supplement), Review (covers literature), Jobs & Money, Travel, Sport

Though the main news section is still in the large broadsheet format, the supplements are all in the half-sized tabloid format, with the exception of the glossy Weekend section which is a 290×245mm magazine and The Guide which is in a small 225×145mm format.

The Guardian in the popular imagination

The affectionate name the Grauniad for the paper came about because, in the past, it was noted for frequent text mangling, technical typesetting failures and typographical errors, including once misspelling its own name as "The Gaurdian" in the 1970s (this was referenced in the Christmas special of Yes, Minister). Although such errors are now less frequent than they used to be, the 'Corrections and clarifications' column can still often provide some amusement. There were even a number of errors in the first issue, perhaps the most notable being a notification that there would soon be some goods sold at atction, instead of auction.

Until the foundation of the Independent, the Guardian was the only serious national daily newspaper in England that was not clearly conservative in its political affiliation. The term "Guardian reader" is therefore often used pejoratively by right-wingers and self-deprecatingly by those on the liberal-left. The reactionary stereotype of a Guardian reader is a person with leftist or liberal politics rooted in the 1960s, working in the public sector, regularly eating lentils and muesli, wearing sandals and believing in alternative medicine and natural medicine as evidenced by Labour MP Kevin Hughes' largely rhetorical question in the House of Commons on November 19, 2001:

"Does my right hon. Friend find it bizarre — as I do — that the yoghurt- and muesli-eating, Guardian-reading fraternity are only too happy to protect the human rights of people engaged in terrorist acts, but never once do they talk about the human rights of those who are affected by them?" [8] (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo011119/debtext/11119-08.htm#11119-08_spnew3)

Like most stereotypes, this one is both inaccurate and outdated. For instance, the Guardian's science coverage is now extensive; and although its Weekend supplement features a column by Emma Mitchell, a natural health therapist, its general slant is a contempt for alternative medicine, as evidenced by the sceptical Bad Science column by Ben Goldacre.

The stereotype, however, is a persistent feature of English political discourse. Even doctors perpetuate it by using the acronym GROLIES (Guardian Reader Of Low Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt) on patient notes. [9] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3159813.stm)

The Guardian has a tradition of spoof articles on April Fool's Day, sometimes contributed by regular advertisers such as BMW. The most elaborate of these was a travel supplement on San Serriffe.

Literary patronage

The Guardian is the sponsor of two major literary awards: The Guardian First Book Award, established in 1999 as a successor to the Guardian Fiction Award which had run since 1965, and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, founded in 1967. In recent years it has also sponsored the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye.

Editors

Current columnists

Notable regular contributors (past and present)

The Newsroom archive

The Guardian and its sister newspaper The Observer operate a visitor centre in London called The Newsroom. It contains their archives, including bound copies of old editions, a photographic library and other items such as diaries, letters and notebooks. This material may be consulted by members of the public. The Newsroom also mounts temporary exhibitions and runs an educational programme for schools. There is also an extensive Manchester Guardian archive at the University of Manchester's John Rylands Library and there is a collaboration programme between the two archives.

See also

External links

fi:The Guardian fr:The Guardian id:The Guardian ja:ガーディアン no:The Guardian pl:The Guardian pt:The Guardian

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