The Guardian is prepared to introduce a paywall around its website and apps as a last resort should an ongoing subscriber and donations push fail to reach its financial targets, according to reports in The Telegraph.
A shift toward a paywall, would mark a significant change in strategy for the publisher which has hitherto striven to keep its journalism as open as possible – although behind the scenes efforts are already afoot for such an outcome.
The paper has reportedly brought in outside consultants to devise a model of compulsory subscription for selected material which are now ready to be implemented at short notice should its turnaround strategy be deemed to have been a failure.
The Guardian believes its present strategy is beginning to bear fruit with 230,000 paying members signing up by April, a huge rise on the 50,000 that existed at the start of the financial year. These numbers translated to a 15% increase in digital revenues to £94.1m – although this figure also includes advertising, grants and subscriptions to its dating service.
Chief executive David Pemsel and editor Kath Viner are spearheading a three-year initiative to reverse widening losses and have met with some success, reducing operating losses from £68.7m to £44.7m in the most recent set of results, with the aim of breaking even by next year.
Pemsel first began considering paid-for digital content last year.