This is how a “liberal” newspaper works in the 21st century (well, one that still takes advertising). From a New York magazine feature on Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger:
His paper is running out of money: It lost roughly $50 million last year, and though it’s subsidized by a nonprofit trust, at that rate it can survive for at most another five years. Thus, the new American edition: 30 journalists turning out daily columns, reporting, and incessant live-blogging—not just on Americans but for Americans.
“Why are we in America?” he asks, facing me across a small round table in a corner office, another sleek white box. There’s barely a picture on the wall or a paper on the desk—it’s as clutter-free as a monk’s quarters. “We’re in America because a third of our audience is in America.” The Guardianhas about 20 million monthly online readers in the United States, he says—a natural growth opportunity. But Rusbridger’s plan doesn’t require the company to ever actually turn a profit. “Within four years we will have brought losses down to a single figure,” he says. That’s a single figure in millions of pounds. “Which is sustainable.”
“I’m not a Murdoch hater,” Rusbridger says, though he makes a point of noting he “effectively called us liars.” More important: He’s also not afraid of him. People believed “it was a bad mistake to make an enemy of Murdoch,” Rusbridger says. “News International knew that, and they felt that that gave them some kind of immunity. And so they didn’t have to play by the normal rules, and they would get away with it.”
There are similarly well-established competitors in this country, too, of course, and Rusbridger acknowledges he can’t compete here with the firepower of newspapers like the Times. And so the American edition, which is web-only, depends on less labor-intensive strategies, notably what Rusbridger calls “open journalism,” in which readers help report the news. “I believe that is quicker in building an audience,” he says, “and is editorially a better account of the world.” It doesn’t hurt that it’s also cheaper.