Observer SOS: 'Journalists fired up and willing to fight'

Observer journalists are gearing up for a public campaign to save their newspaper from closure.

Just over two weeks ago the Sunday Times reported that Guardian News and Media was considering closing The Observer to stem combined losses for the Guardian and Observer of £36.8m for the year to June.

Since then GNM has confirmed it “is conducting a careful and thorough review of all its operations” but said that “no decisions have been taken”.

The outcome of the review is expected next month.

In the mean time Observer staff have started approaching a host of public figures from the worlds of politics and culture to back their campaign.

And they are planning to hold a public event some time next month.

Since the Guardian and Observer newsrooms merged at the end of last year, many former Observer journalists are now part of combined editorial teams.

But it is believed that about 80 journalists remain solely dedicated to The Observer.

According to one insider: “The atmosphere at the moment is absolutely terrible – there is massive angst. People are petrified about what’s going to happen.”

Earlier this week the joint Guardian and Observer National Union of Journalists chapel passed a resolution offering its “full support to the public campaign to save the Observer as an independent Sunday newspaper”.

The resolution said: “The chapel is committed to the editorial autonomy, resourcing and identity of both the Observer and the Guardian – along with the protection of editorial standards and absolute rejection of compulsory redundancies across all platforms.”

Press Gazette understands that the NUJ is in the process of launching a dedicated “Save the Observer” website.

At time of writing a “Save the Observer” Facebook group had attracted around 8,000 members.

One Observer insider said: “We’ve got to make this about more than just saving jobs. This is about saving the paper.

“We believe it would be cultural vandalism to get rid of one of the bigger liberal newspapers on a Sunday, possibly leaving a market which would just be the Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph.”

Another Observer insider suggested that the Observer is being sacrificed to pay for the £70m Berliner-size presses which GNM invested in four years ago and to pay for the huge investment in a Guardian.co.uk website which has yet to make money.

They said: “This newspaper reported Mozart’s death, I don’t think the current generation of third-rate managers have a right to close it. People are very fired up and they are willing to fight.”

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