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‘Bring it on’ say editors as Guardian mulls Manchester return

Manchester-based editors have urged The Guardian to return to the city after reports that the national newspaper could consider relocating.

The Times reported yesterday that senior executives at The Guardian had held talks about moving its offices to Manchester, where it was founded in 1821 and based until 1964, when production moved to London.

The newspaper, known as the Manchester Guardian until 1959, has since confirmed it is reviewing office space and looking to make savings.

Former Chorley and Leyland Guardian editor Chris Maguire, who now runs Manchester-based business magazine Business Cloud, has welcomed the proposed move.

A 1908 photograph of The Guardian's office on Cross Street, Manchester

A 1908 photograph of The Guardian’s office on Cross Street, Manchester

He told HTFP: “Not wanting to sound parochial but a move to Manchester would make a lot of sense. There’s a lot of talk about the Guardian returning to its roots but this decision isn’t driven by misty-eyed sentimentality but, rather, hard-nosed business reality.

“London is an expensive place to base a business. In addition a lot of journalists are priced out of working in London so you can get a lot more bang for your buck in the regions.

“Manchester is the UK’s second city outside of London and it is at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse. The BBC is based at MediaCity and Greater Manchester will get an elected mayor on 4 May so the city’s profile will grow further.

“There’s no shortage of talented journalists in the north so my message to the Guardian is pretty simple: ‘Bring it on.'”

Before co-founding Business Cloud, Chris edited North West Business Insider, which is also based in Manchester.

His successor at the title, former Salford Advertiser and Prestwich Advertiser editor Simon Keegan, described Manchester and the North-West of England as an “absolute hotbed of journalistic talent” and a “Northern Powerhouse of publishing heritage”.

He said: “There is no reason why a brand like the Guardian can’t work from a Manchester base, but those in charge have to be more savvy and care more. Newspapers cannot have breaking news as their USP any more.”

Simon added: “Other industries have learnt to evolve in the 21st century, for the most part newspapers have not. Papers need to win back the hearts and minds of their readers by re-establishing themselves as credible, quality and professional.

“And national newspapers need to take off their rose tinted Fleet Street glasses. Take a leaf out of the Beeb’s book. Come back to the north, take on local talent, but don’t do it half-heartedly.”

The proposal has also drawn light-hearted reaction from other regional press figures, including former Bristol Post and Derby Telegraph editor Mike Lowe, now editing Cotswold Life.

He posted on Twitter: “With the chance of the Guardian moving back north, I’m considering opening Salford’s first quinoa bar. Salford. Quinoa. What could go wrong?”

13 comments

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  • April 6, 2017 at 7:23 am
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    ” Fleet Street”??
    Welcome to Simon Keenan’s Manchester where it’s still the 1970s

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  • April 6, 2017 at 8:23 am
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    Nice bit of ‘stuff everywhere else come to Manc I’m alright jack’ mentality by Keegan there, don’t worry about the many London job losses which would result if this move happens, or those who cannot or will not be able to relocate ooop north so will face the axe ,and yes if he thinks the London presses are still based in Fleet Street his other views may be misguided and out of touch too.

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  • April 6, 2017 at 8:46 am
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    If I’m right in thinking the guardian lost over £95 million then moving to Manchester would only be moving the problem,unless ( cliche quote warning )this move to the ‘hotbed’ and ‘powerhouse’ will guarantee huge cost savings, efficiencies and a more profitable environment to be based in, after all,and despite mr Keegans excitable rallying,that’s the only way any businesses should consider such a huge upheaval and potentially vast number of people being made redundant.

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  • April 6, 2017 at 9:24 am
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    More anti-London hype. Just nipping to the offie to spend me bucks

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  • April 6, 2017 at 9:45 am
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    Ooop north? Jazzie – your prejudice is so tiresomely transparent. With Channel 4 and the Guardian potentially moving to Salford and Manchester, there’s change in the air. Change often hurts, but this one has been a long time coming. National journalism needs to flee the London bubble – especially now, as the UK pulls in its tentacles from Europe and Scotland prepares to go it alone.

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  • April 6, 2017 at 10:01 am
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    It would be good news for the many Northern journalists who can’t afford to live in London, but I’d have to see it before I believe it.

    The BBC’s ‘move north’ was an absolute joke, it’s still full of interns and rich kids as they’re the only people who can afford to base their lives around perpetual three month contracts.

    Also, most of their jobs are advertised internally save for the bizarre ‘talent pool’ days they have once a year where maybe one or two locals get a shift.

    As with most things media, these things tend to be jobs for the boys and the class of people in those roles stay in those roles. Still though, we can but hope.

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  • April 6, 2017 at 10:15 am
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    Eggs are so blah blah blah

    If by ‘tiresomely prejudiced and transparent’ you mean I care about possible huge numbers of staff being made redundant then yep, guilty as charged

    Sad to see the old ‘ Every man and woman for themselves’ ‘ mentality is alive and well and living in in Manchester
    Oh and by the way I’m not based in London nor do I work for a London based publisher but I do have the ability to empathise with more journalists, wherever they’re bssed, being made redundant through no fault of their own.
    Soon manc will be so ful of meeeja types all falling over themselves there’ll be a be a call for publishers to move elsewhere, still, as long as it doesn’t affect me hey….

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  • April 6, 2017 at 10:59 am
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    Great idea. Perhaps the Manchester Evening News could consider a return to Manchester as well.

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  • April 6, 2017 at 12:23 pm
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    When you have a paper effectively asking its online readers for donations at the end of an article you know it’s in trouble.

    One can only hope Mancunians will be charitable should it ever return to the city whose newspaper history seems very much consigned to a shopping mall – The Printworks!

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  • April 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm
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    Jazzie, I don’t think anyone wants to see people out of work, but that’s like saying you’re a teacher but all the schools are in London, if one school decided to move up North so you could get a job you’d welcome that, no? Yes it would of course be sad that those teachers in London at that one school had lost their jobs, but they would have access to all those other schools that are still there.

    Pretty much all quality media jobs – not just journalism jobs – are in London or the South in general, there’s an entire country of people out there who want to do something more rewarding with their NCEs than work in the press office of Winalot Prime.

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  • April 6, 2017 at 12:52 pm
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    As one old enouigh in the tooth to remember working at Withy Grove in the 70s, the regional approach to nationals was, I think, successful. Now newspapers proudly proclaim a report is from their Northern Correspondent. The problem with the Grudian is that it has become too southern and those poor people Darn Sarf would feel they were dropping over the edge of the earth if they had to venture into the north. It is a pity that the news was broken in The Times and not the Grudian though. Says it all.

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  • April 6, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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    The Guardians fortunes will not be resolved by moving from London to Manchester, yes it may enable the group to reduce costs and overheads ,maybe even employ some north west journalists on the cheap thus saving London wages but the fallout will be the same in terms of ‘new’ jobs created in one part of the country partly offsetting more jobs lost elsewhere.

    These days and in a digital world,a publishers location should be the least of it worries with ad revenues in rapid decline, copy sales at time lows with no sign of reversal, lack of investment in the core products and digital audiences paying to access content ( I cant take free views seriousjy unless those papers concerned want to become charities) failing to materialise off and make money.
    So unless things are so bad that upping sticks and running is the only solution, moving to Manchester from London and leaving many more journalists unemployed would be,to my way of thinking, a seriously ill conceived one.

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  • April 7, 2017 at 11:58 am
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    “I can almost imagine the conversation in The Guardian newsroom……”Manchester! Where’s that?”
    “Up north, somewhere near Hampstead, apparently.”

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