UK's Guardian daily goes tabloid to cut costs

Britain's Guardian newspaper has adopted a new tabloid format and a re-designed masthead with simple black lettering as part of a drive to cut costs (AFP Photo/ANDREW COWIE) (AFP/File)

London (AFP) - Britain's Guardian newspaper adopted a new tabloid format and a re-designed masthead with simple black lettering from Monday as part of a drive to cut costs.

The left-leaning newspaper previously had a blue and white masthead and in 2005 had adopted a Berliner format, midway between a broadsheet and a tabloid.

"Our move to tabloid format is a big step towards making The Guardian financial sustainable," the paper's editor-in-chief Katharine Viner said in a piece for the first new edition.

She called it "bold, striking and beautiful".

Speaking at the relaunch, she vowed that "Guardian journalism itself will remain what it has always been: thoughtful, progressive, fiercely independent and challenging; and also witty, stylish and fun.”

The Guardian is selling or scrapping its three presses worth £80 million (90 million euros, $110 million) to cut costs and printing will be outsourced to tabloid-format presses run by Trinity Mirror media group.

The website, which attracts 150 million monthly unique browsers worldwide, has also undergone a redesign.

The company is aiming to break even by April 2019, mainly through cutting costs and boosting digital ad revenue to make up for a sharp decline in print ad revenue.

The first tabloid edition's main front-page photograph was of Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower whose leaked diplomatic cables were published by the Guardian, and who is now running for the US Senate.

Tabloid rival The Sun poked fun at its highbrow competitor, boasting on its front page that it was "20p less than The Mirror, £1.50 less than the tabloid Guardian".

"From one tabloid to another, here is our suggestion for them to turn around their failing fortunes: actually report some exclusive, rip-roaring stories ... We know that is an alien concept to them, but it might help them flog a copy, or two," said the editorial of the Rupert Murdoch owned paper.

But right-wing politician Patrick O'Flynn, former political editor of the Daily Express, complimented the new design, tweeting "I really like the look of the new tabloid Guardian. Well done the design team."

The newspaper's aggressive expansion into the US and Australian markets, which involved the hiring of a large staff, and its commitment to free online content resulted in a huge profile-boost on the global stage and a Pulitzer Prize, but also huge financial losses.

The Guardian lost £44.7 million in the year ending April 2017, following losses of £68.7 million the previous year.

The Scott Trust, which owns the paper, had over £850 million in its investment fund after selling one of its most popular publications in 2013, which was meant to guarantee the paper's independence and ethos without compromising to market forces.

However, the scale of the losses has forced the paper to cut costs, with around 300 job losses.