David Mitchell to headline at Stand up for the Observer

Observer columnist and comedian David Mitchell has agreed to be one of the speakers at a Stand Up for the Observer public meeting being held in London later this month.

Former Observer editor Donald Trelford has also agreed to speak at the event – which is being hosted by Press Gazette, the National Union of Journalists and staff from the Observer.

Mitchell, who stars in TV comedy shows Peep Show and That Mitchell and Web Look, has been urging the 95,000 people who follow him on social networking website Twitter to join the campaign to save the Observer.

Mitchell has asked his Twitter followers to join the Save the Observer Facebook group, which now has more than 8,500 members, and to buy a copy of the paper.

He said: “Most similar papers are currently loss-making and the Observer is less than most. In a way it’s out-performing the market.”

Mitchell said that the closure of The Observer would be “terrible” adding: “I’m really not just saying that because I write for it…”

Hundreds of journalists from the joint Observer/Guardian NUJ chapels and non union members are expected to attend the Stand up for the Observer event as well as colleagues from other papers, concerned readers and high-profile figures from the worlds of culture and politics.

The event is being held at the Friends Meeting House in Euston Road, Kings Cross, from 7pm on 21 September.

The question-mark over The Observer’s future follows a report in the Sunday Times a month ago revealing that closing it was one of a number of options being considered by Guardian Media Group to stem mounting losses.

GMG has declined to reveal when the crucial autumn meeting of the Scott Trust, which owns GMG, will be held at which the cost-saving measures are expected to be discussed.

Press Gazette has invited GMG bosses, and the members of the Scott Trust, if they would like to attend the public meeting in order to hear the concerns of journalists and members of the public about the Observer’s future.

A spokeswoman for Guardian News and Media said: “We can’t participate as we can’t pre-empt the outcome of the internal review, at this stage any discussion is in fact speculation.”

Scott Trust chairwoman Dame Liz Forgan has said she is unable to also unable to attend.

Former Observer editor Trelford believes the paper is being made a scapegoat for losses elsewhere in the Guardian group.

He said: “It’s the cost of investing in online that has got The Guardian into difficulties. It’s being made the scapegoat for investment into online which brings in no revenue.”

Former Sunday Times editor Sir Harold Evans, speaking on Newsnight, pointed out that during the Great Depression The Observer survived with sales of 200,000 a week, half the current figure.

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