It’s the End of the World… As They Know it

by | Feb 12, 2016

One of the hypotheses posited on this blog is that the preoccupation with the end of the world is in reality a displaced existential, and altogether far more internal crisis. Where you can see climate alarmism, you can see a crisis afflicting the individual, organisation or institution which promotes alarm much more clearly — a decline that is far more vivid than any climate change signal. Today, we see the proof of that hypothesis, in the terminal decline of The Independent newspaper.

Back in 2014, the death of The Independent was half-jokingly forecast right here on this very blog, for a little earlier than it actually happened.


But then again, perhaps it wasn’t premature — arguably The Independent has been dead for a while, it’s lifeless corpse kept twitching by desperate attempts to revive it…

Speaking of dead tree media attempts to flog dead horses


The failed leader of the ailing political party is to pow-wow with the failing newspaper’s prognosticator in chief, about the political failure of the attempt to rescue ailing governments from their failures..

Are we failing to grasp clear global consensus on how to tackle climate change? Join former leader of the Labour party Ed Miliband and best-selling author and Guardian leader writer George Monbiot as we debate the implications of the historic Paris agreement.

As has been observed here, the externalisation of internal existential crises as climate crisis is a phenomenon we can see in politics, as well as in newspaper circulation figures. Miliband represented the worst of political party machinery failing to ‘engage’ with the public… The more detached from ordinary people and ordinary life politicians and political parties become, so the more they seek legitimacy in ideas that are beyond the senses of ordinary people, and the more they locate power above democratic control on the basis of seemingly ‘global’ risks. The Guardian has hitched itself to that cause, because it too is incapable of making sense of the world — the thing that people turn towards newspapers for. Thus, the Guardian has tried to assert itself as more than a newspaper, such is the extent of its identity crisis, after such a question mark emerges over its status as such, its circulation figures dropping so violently.

Of course, the same could be said of other broadcasting and print media’s struggles to sustain their identity as they, too, struggle to make sense of the world. But the Guardian’s attempts to reinvent itself is, first, of more interest to us critics of such things as giant, undemocratic political projects, and second, perhaps the epitome of such a struggle. The futility of that struggle is reflected both in the fact of it putting forward such mediocre characters — abject, proven failures — as intellectual giants, and the raw numbers…

The Press Gazette reported last month:

Guardian News and Media to slash £54m from annual budget to curb losses
According to The Guardian, GNM is expected to lose more than £50m in the year to the end of March, more than double last year’s total.
As of April last year GNM parent company, Guardian Media Group, had £838.3m in the bank thanks largely to the sale of Trader Media Group.

According to The Guardian, this investment fund has been depleted by more than £100m and currently stands at £735m. At the current rate of spending GNM will run out of money within the next eight years.
Last month print sales of The Guardian fell 7 per cent year on year to an average of 165,672 and The Observer fell 6.2 per cent to 189,383.

If I understand the figures correctly, then, the Guardian lost approximately £1,000 per daily copy ‘circulated’ in the last year.

For a paper that lectures the world on economic and environmental sustainability, that is truly a remarkable loss.


  1. Ian Johnson

    The Guardian’s decline seems to have started with their 100 months to save the world articles. They started with “The final countdown”, maybe for the Guardian?

    ian Johnson.

  2. TDK

    Not sure about your maths

    There are about 52 * 6 editions per year = 312
    £50m / 312 = £160,256 loss per edition.

    £50m / 165672 subscribers = £302 loss per subscriber
    £302 / 312 editions = 97p loss per copy of the paper sold

    AFAIK the paper sells for £2.70 per Saturday edition and £1.80 for Mon-Fri. Clearly the 2015 price rise has driven more people to the free web edition.

  3. Ben Pile

    TDK – Not sure about your maths

    The GMG lost ~£100m from its ‘investment fund’, and ~£50m cost of sales. £150m / ~150,0000 circulation = £1,000.

    It’s possible that the £50m came out of the ‘investment fund’, which would be £666.66 loss per circulated daily copy.

  4. TDK

    I follow your maths now.

    However you can’t add the £50m operating loss to the £100m bank account outgoings to get a grand total of £150m. If there was a £50m operating loss then it was likely to come out of bank account, meaning it was counted already in the £100m.

    We don’t know what happened to the rest of the bank account withdrawal. Perhaps it was for Capital investment purchases eg. for the website. You can’t capitalise expenditure unless you reasonably expect the investment will bring a return.

  5. Ben Pile

    TDK – …meaning it was counted already in the £100m..

    Which is why I said,

    It’s possible that the £50m came out of the ‘investment fund’….

    However, the article says of the £100m loss,

    ‘A GNM spokesperson the current forecast is for “cash outflow of about £80m for this year”‘

    And that the rest,

    ‘due to other factors such as “changing market valuation of the portfolio”.

    On to your point,

    ‘You can’t capitalise expenditure unless you reasonably expect the investment will bring a return.

    we learn that,

    But the [website] has evidently failed to capitalise on the web traffic by attracting enough advertising to compensate for falling print advertising and circulation revenue.

  6. TDK

    Perhaps you think I am defending the Guardian ??

    Not so. I’m just trying to reign in speculation because it detracts from your wider point. We know for certain that the Guardian loses a phenomenal amount. I’ll leave it there.

  7. mike fowle

    I am re-reading Not Many Dead – Nick Garland’s account of the founding of the Independent. It is largely forgotten now but the three journalists who set it up – Stephen Glover, Matthew Symonds and Andreas Whittam Smith were all working at the Telegraph when they agreed to set up a new paper. It was intended to attract readers from the Telegraph and also the Daily Mail. True. It had some laudable qualities such as not joining the Parliamentary lobby or carrying endless stories about the Royal family. It is sad but also stupid that it considered emulating the Guardian was the path to success. BTW IMHO Garland was the last great political cartoonist.

  8. hunter

    Come on, we miss you. Why no posts in something like six months?

  9. Michael Cunningham

    “it too is incapable of making sense of the world — the thing that people turn towards newspapers for.” I turn towards newspapers for information and views, not for making sense of the world. We know the external world only through its interaction with our sense organs. So to understand it, you must look inside. And if you do so, what do you find? Only minute particles, arising and passing away with great frequency, no solidity, nothing to cling to, no “I, me, mine.” Look further, and you will find that interactions with the six sense organs – including the mind – lead to a sensation on the body, that you evaluate this sensation – good, bad, neutral – and that you react with liking and disliking which turns into craving and aversion – the cause of our problems. Observing without reaction, with equanimity, we can come out of this process and are better equipped to deal with, and contribute to, the ever-changing outside world.


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