Guardian News & Media is inviting its readers to join a new membership scheme which aims to “bring readers closer to the Guardian’s award-winning journalism” as well as generate new revenues for the loss-making group.
The centrepiece of the new initiative will be a currently derelict 30,000 square foot warehouse near their London HQ which is expected to be opened as an events venue in autumn 2016. Also launched today was The Guardian Live, a programme of: “discussions, debates, interviews, keynote speeches and festivals” that is aimed at “taking the power of open journalism from print and digital and translating it into live experiences.”
The membership scheme has three levels from “friends” who can sign up for free to book tickets and receive updates and “partners” who will pay £15 per month to get priority booking and discounts.
To become a “patron” of the scheme will cost £60 per month which will also entitle a member to a “backstage pass” offering newsroom tours, print site visits and “insight into the editorial process”. The membership proposition will be launched in the US and Australia in 2015.
Already announced are forums on Islamaphobia with Medhi Hassan and Jonathan Freedland and live on-stage interviews with former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and comedian Russell Brand. The Guardian will also be hosting a panel discussion on the “science of cycling” at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester.
Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media said: “This is just the beginning of our membership journey as we seek to develop the scheme in the open, in collaboration with the readers who share our values.”
David Pemsel, deputy chief executive, added: “Membership will enable us to deliver new consumer revenue streams and to bring our journalism to life.”
While the Guardian’s print circulation has fallen in recent years to around 200,000 copies a day, the company says it receives 105 million unique page views per month across it’s range of websites, making it the the world’s third most read newspaper website.
While the group recently posted losses of £30.6m in the year to March, the sale of a 50 per cent stake in publisher Auto Trader in January is believed to have netted £600m.
Asked by the Drum about the cost of the events centre a spokesperson for the Guardian confirmed they had leased the building but could not comment on the cost for commercial reasons.