The Guardian has gained 200,000 new supporters in the three months over the coronavirus pandemic, editor Katharine Viner told the Media Show.
In a period of a record growth in subscriptions, since the start of March 95,000 readers have taken up a monthly subscription with 105,000 making one-off contributions to the paper’s online voluntary donation scheme.
But she added that the paper is still projecting a decline in £20m over the next six months due to loss of advertising revenue and newsstand sales.
Speaking on Amol Rajan’s BBC Media Show yesterday, Viner said that the Guardian was happy with its voluntary donation model and was not looking at implementing a paywall. The publication continues to value its principle that ‘as long as you’ve got an internet connection you could read the Guardian.’
The newsgroup experienced a huge 2.2 billion page views in March, however the paper still took the decision to furlough 100 staff in the commercial division due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The interview also covered the collaborative scoop with the Daily Mirror which revealed the journeys the PM’s special advisor Dominic Cummings had made during lockdown.
Viner said she was keen ‘right from the beginning’ of the crisis to hold the decisions by the government and scientific establishments to account and was not cautious to do so.
She also levelled criticism at the administration’s responses to the media throughout the crisis, such as rebuttal blogs issued by some government departments in response to newspaper investigations.
Speaking of the publication of the Guardian investigation into the PM’s special advisor’s travel to Durham, Viner said she was concerned that the government ‘refused to provide a response’ in the lead up to publication.
She added that the statement from Number 10 on March 23 stating they wouldn’t be answering ‘false allegations’ from campaigning newspapers was ‘the first on the record response’ the paper received on the matter, even though approaches were made in the five or six weeks prior to publication.
Despite the statement that the Guardian and Mirror’s story was false, Viner said the government ‘failed to provide information on what any of the inaccuracies were’.
Viner added that the non-engagement type of response was ‘not unusual’ for this current administration.
The Society of Editors has written to the Prime Minister to voice concerns over the statement made by Number 10 suggesting the administration was not interested in answering questions from campaigning newspapers.
The BBC Media Show podcast can be listened to online.