London Mayor Boris Johnson claims to “have it on good authority” that The Guardian recently held a “brainstorming session” discussing the possibility of axing its print edition.
Johnson’s comments come after a Telegraph story claiming The Guardian was “seriously discussing” scrapping its print edition, a story dismissed as “simply untrue” by the paper’s editor Alan Rusbridger.
Writing in his weekly Daily Telegraph column this morning, Johnson said: “This story has now been officially denied by the Guardian politburo – a move that of course adds nothing but credence to the plot.”
He added that while The Guardian “had never supported anything I have said or done”, it would be a “national tragedy” if it scrapped the print edition.
“It’s no use telling us that the content would all be there ‘online,’" he said.
“Everything is online, a great charnel-house of porn and piffle. We need the Guardian lowering at us from the news-stands in all its highmindedness; we need to see people nodding over it gently on the Tube.
“Take it online and you lose all political impact; you lose the vital editorial marshalling of the often excellent journalists and cartoonists and photographers into a single daily statement, a single product – and everything gets lost in the morass of Google news. We will always need a real and not a virtual Guardian.”
Johnson added: “We need a paper that is genuinely, viscerally hostile to anything that looks remotely like a spirit of enterprise and competition.
“We need a paper that believes capitalism is fundamentally flawed; that wishes fewer people had jobs in financial services; that thinks the euro was and still is a jolly fine idea; that dislikes the ideology of home ownership (except for Guardian journalists, who are allowed to have more than one); that dislikes anything “elitist” (except for the schools attended by the children of Guardian journalists).
“We need a paper that believes the answer to all problems is more tax and more regulation. We need to have the enemy in plain view, on the table, in the shops – not skulking online.
“We need to know what not to think. So I appeal now to all Conservatives and indeed anyone interested in preserving our national heritage. Even if we only have a few hundred copies left, let us keep the Guardian’s print edition – displayed in town halls, perhaps, like the People’s Daily. Never mind the badger. Save the Guardian from extinction!”
After the Telegraph story appeared on 17 October Guardian News & Media released this statement: "There is no truth in reports that The Guardian intends to stop printing newspapers. Our newspapers generate three-quarters of our revenue and will remain the foundations of our organisation for many years to come.
"The management and executive of The Guardian and The Scott Trust Ltd have put in place a strategy that has enabled The Guardian to maintain its revenues and grow its audience to record levels. The Guardian is now the most read quality newspaper brand in Great Britain."