Columnnist Polly Toynbee today urged readers of The Guardian to do their bit to help keep the “precarious” paper on the road.
The dwindling band of print buyers of The Guardian (around 150,000 on a weekday) already pay £1.60 a day to subsidise the completely free reading experience of the 6m daily online browsers. But it seems Toynbee (salary, somewhere north of £100,000) wants even more from them.
The full page ad, headed “dear reader”, states:
“The Guardian’s life has always been precarious because we don’t have an owner or a corporation propping us up. We don’t have a press baron or oligarch ordering us to take their political or commercial line. We swim along in a dangerous world of media sharks, our independence precious and unique."
She wants readers to support The Guardian's journalism not by paying for it, but by signing up to Guardian Membership (costing from nothing to £540 a year) in order to, ahem, spend more money with the Guardian attending events and classes.
"Come to events with us, debate the great issues of the day, meet up with Guardian writers and readers.
"As a member, you matter to us not just for your support, but because we gain from your insight too."
Could this be the same Guardian which currently has cash reserves of £850m after selling its stake in used-car business Autotrader last year?
Far from the future being "precarious", chief executive of parent company Guardian Media Group Andrew Miller said last month that the financial future of group was “secure” and that it had “very strong commercial foundations in place”.
With its cash in the bank and operating losses running at around £20m The Guardian is probably more secure at present than any other national newspaper title.