Editor of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger ruled out erecting paywalls around The Guardian's website, expressing optimism about the future of the newspaper, Journalism.co.uk reported.
Speaking as part of the Coventry Conversation series, run by the Coventry University journalism department, he said the newspaper had no plans to put up paywalls, as Rupert Murdoch has planned to do for News International titles. "It would be crazy if we were to all jump behind a pay wall and imagine that would solve things," Rusbridger said. He did agree, though, that it was good that journalism was "trying different things".
The Guardian was reportedly losing up to £100,000 a day late last year. He confirmed that these figures were accurate at the peak of the crisis, but that because it was backed by the Scott Trust, these losses were eased.
The paper has reason to be optimistic about its economic future, after selling almost 70,000 downloads of its iPhone app for £2.39 each since it was launched in December. If sales were to continue at the same rate, income from the app alone could total almost £2 million a year.
Rusbridger said that app sales had exceeded all expectations and that it showed that people are willing to pay for content on a mobile platform.
When asked if The Guardian was a sinking ship, Rusbridger replied: "No not at all, but if I stop to think about the business model it is sometimes quite scary."
A student asked if Rusbridger felt guilty about being paid a salary of almost £500,000. He replied that he earns less than other national newspaper editors, and that he fought for the 10% pay cut he took in July last year. "I'm the only journalist at the Guardian, possibly Fleet Street, to actually beg for my pay to be cut down," he said.
And what skills does he look for from job applicants? An understanding of new media was high on the agenda, he said, along with "more stamina, more persistence, more cunning, more ability". Those who were uncomfortable with insecurity would be well advised to avoid getting into journalism, he added.
Even so, his advice to journalism students in the audience was not to dwell too much on the financial difficulties the industry faces, and to "think about the journalism rather than worrying so much about the business model".
Focusing on the journalism is sound advice for students, but other commentators point out that students can't help but be concerned by the transformations in the industry, with its profound impact on job opportunities and wages. Will this deter students from becoming journalists? Or are they keener than ever?