Former Europe minister Denis MacShane has written to one hundred senior MPs of all parties in a bid to safeguard the future of the Observer amid fears that the newspaper could be closed.
MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham and former president of the NUJ, is urging colleagues to sign a letter addressed to the Scott Trust, which owns the Observer, urging it to keep the paper going.
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Guardian Media Group, which publishes the title, admitted that “all options” were under review earlier this month after a Sunday Times report suggested that it was considering closing the 218-year-old newspaper – the world’s oldest Sunday paper – as a way of safeguarding the business after it recorded an £89.8m annual losses.
Under the terms of the Scott Trust – GMG is committed to safeguarding the future of the journalism of The Guardian in perpetuity (but not The Observer, which has only been part of the group since 1993).
Carolyn McCall, chief executive of GMG, said despite a £20 million cost savings programme at national newspapers division Guardian News and Media heavy losses would continue this year.
MacShane told Press Gazette: “As a former NUJ president and an occasional contributor to the Observer I don’t want it to disappear and another tranche of our best journalists scurrying to find work in PR or learning about Job Seekers Allowance.
“The Observer is part of the very fabric of our parliamentary democracy. No European country, nor the US, has a paper like it. I hope MPs of all shades of opinion do write and say the Observer should not die.”
Guardian and Observer staff were told earlier this year that management was considering a range of cost-saving options as part of a three-year strategy.
A number of journalists from the Observer told Press Gazette yesterday they believed the paper would survive in some form but feared that it would be a slimmed down version without an extensive range of magazines or supplements.
A spokesman for GMG said: “Guardian News & Media is conducting a careful and thorough review of all its operations. No decisions have been taken, and we will not comment on speculation until we are in a position to talk to our staff about the outcome of the review.”