Although Covid-19’s coverage generated a record number of readers for the Guardian’s website, the economic downturn caused the advertising market to collapse.
Annette Thomas, the new chief executive of Guardian Media Group, told staff on Wednesday that the company had seen a record increase in digital subscriptions and online contributions from readers.
The Guardian’s unique browsers doubled to a record 366 million in March, according to unaudited internal figures, with readers recording 2.17 billion page views in March.
However, revenue forecasts for the first six months of the fiscal year alone are down at least £ 20 million, about one-tenth of Guardian News and Media’s annual revenue.
As a result, the company introduced a number of measures, including the postponement of salary increases for all UK staff and the reduction of executive team salaries – including Thomas and Katharine Viner, the editor – 20% for the next six months.
A hundred people in non-editorial services will be placed under the government’s job guarantee scheme, but wages will be raised by the company to their full normal salary.
Most of the major British publishers have already had to downsize or adjust their wages, as the industry is facing a major crisis that could put some outlets for bankruptcy.
A Guardian spokesperson said the pandemic meant the company was facing “huge financial challenges” and that it “would continue to explore other savings opportunities.”
They added, “With record digital traffic and reader engagement driving record levels of digital subscriptions and reader support in the past six weeks, The Guardian is a strong, trusted brand. While we are well positioned to weather the challenges of the strategy implemented over the past four years, it is clear that we will need to adapt as we have always done, in order to serve the readers of Guardian and to take up the challenges and opportunities to come. “