Observer SOS: A Press Gazette campaign

The Observer hasn’t just survived two World Wars but also the Suez, Crimean and Napoleonic conflicts to boot.

It’s the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world and is home to an award-winning roster of writers. Just two years ago it was named British Press Awards newspaper of the year.

So it seems incredible that Guardian Media Group is seriously considering closing it – just 16 years into its ownership of the title.

Two weeks ago the Sunday Times broke the bombshell news that in the light of overall losses of £89m for GMG – the closure of The Observer was being considered.

And since then, GMG has done nothing to dispel the fears of journalists and readers that this is a serious possibility.

Press Gazette understands that, like every player in the journalism industry, GMG is under enormous pressure at the moment.

But we believe that closing the Observer would be a disaster for British journalism.

On the record, all GMG will say is that “it is conducting a careful and thorough review of all its operations” and that “no decisions have been taken”.

Recommendations on the Observer’s future are expected to be presented to the Scott Trust – which owns GMG – next month.

Until that decision is made Press Gazette will be arguing the case that The Observer must be saved.

We believe the Observer is one of Britain’s great and iconic news brands and that the Scott Trust, dedicated as is it is to supporting journalism, should find a way to make it work.

It would be a needless blow to an already beleaguered British news industry to take out of the market a newspaper which has kept its circulation solidly above 400,000 in recent years, has a readership of 1.4m (according to NRS) and which has 219 years of journalistic endeavour behind it.

Yes, The Observer has been loss-making in recent years and the Scott Trust has the specific purpose of protecting the journalism of The Guardian in perpetuity.

But we believe the Scott Trust also has a wider duty to protect journalistic plurality in this country by doing what it can to safeguard the future of a great Sunday newspaper.

If it cannot afford to keep The Observer going it should perhaps offer it for sale to someone who believes they can.

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