Katherine Viner faces big changes as the new Editor in Chief of the Guardian

Katherine Viner takes over a unique organization newspaper operation whose cultural influence [as parodied by Inspector Grim] belies its rocky finances and declining print circulation

In recent years, The Guardian has gained international attention for its part in the wikileaks drama. The business operates through The Scott trust, established to preserve the liberal values of its founders. As such, editorial appointments are made by the board, but after taking cognition of the result of a vote by its journalistic staff. Ms Viner won 53% of that vote.

The values do not include making money, which is just as well, because the Guardian doesn’t, at least not from its core print product.

Guardianistas

The new editor will be well aware of the long and distinguished history of the Guardian, through which it seen as a custodian of the moral compass of cultural correctness in the UK. As such, its faithful readers, the Guardianistas, are mocked satirically by Detective Inspector Derek Grim [in the you tube above] as being “Namby pamby wishy washy hoity toity, snotty snooty,” and as a personification of “political correctness gone mad”.

Preserving a culture

The history of the Guardian is briefly recounted in a 2002 article in the newspaper:

The Manchester Guardian was founded by John Edward Taylor in 1821, and was first published on May 5 of that year. The paper’s intention was the promotion of the liberal interest in the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre and the growing campaign to repeal the Corn Laws that flourished in Manchester during this period. The Guardian was published weekly until 1836 when it was published on Wednesday and Saturday becoming a daily in 1855, when the abolition of Stamp Duty on newspapers permitted a subsequent reduction in cover price (to 2d) allowed the paper to be published daily.

The Guardian achieved national and international recognition under the editorship of CP Scott, who held the post for 57 years from 1872. Scott bought the paper in 1907 following the death of Taylor’s son, and pledged that the principles laid down in the founder’s will would be upheld by retaining the independence of the newspaper. CP Scott outlined those principals in a much-quoted article written to celebrate the centenary of the paper: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred… The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard.”

Today’s paper is now utterly comfortable in its metropolitan clothes, but still with more than skin-deep liberal tendencies inherited from its Mancunian predecessor.

Its new editor in Chief faces challenges of all print media, but at least does not have a Proprietor and a board of activist shareholders urging her to place financial considerations before all others.

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