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Guardian May Kill Tech Supplement; Could Go Online-Only Or Merge With Media

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The Guardian is close to dropping its Thursday Technology supplement, we have learned and confirmed. The online counterpart, which is updated through the day, will continue, however, and Technology may yet be merged with MediaGuardian. The move is thought to be due to worsening tech ad spend but also the fact that many readers, naturally, are online natives with a voracious appetite for tech news throughout the week. Now that @guardiantech has over 615,000 Twitter followers hanging on its every tweet, one school of thought has it that a weekly dead-tree edition seems like anachronism.

The paper first wants to decide on a new section to replace Technology, one of its daily so-called “G3” supplements, before axing the section. Guardian News & Media recently said it would shave 50 staff from its books to respond to the downturn – it’s not known whether any layoffs will come with the Technology move. The Graun’s tech section has a long and rich heritage – Victor Keegan Nick Passmore launched the Online supplement in May 1994 but, with new editor Charles Arthur, it was rebadged Technology, and its science sister supplement Life was folded in to the paper, when The Guardian redesigned as a berliner edition in September 2005.

Guardian News & Media told paidContent:UK: “We are reviewing our technology offering to readers and one idea is that we might merge the printed section with Media on a Monday; this is still under consideration. We are, however, committed to expanding our technology coverage online to better meet the needs of the technology audience.”

(Full disclosure: paidContent:UK’s publisher ContentNext Media is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian News & Media)

5 Responses to “Guardian May Kill Tech Supplement; Could Go Online-Only Or Merge With Media”

  1. In case these are all true, they don't have any other choice but to do this one. They need to maximize their assets in order to survive in this kind of industry.

  2. Michael Kenward

    One of the good things about the Guardian's Technology supplement is that, unlike most of the media world, it does not see technology as being synonymous with information technology. IT is but a small, and mostly dull subset, of the wider technology scene.

    Sadly, the Guardian ventures into the wider technology scene less often than the importance of the subject warrants.

    Quite how technology in its broader sense would fit into an on-line only section is not clear to me. If it encouraged the rest of the newspaper to dedicate more space to technology, that would be at least one small good thing to come out of a depressing move.

  3. Well, Azeem, "isn’t quite correct" is a commendably polite way of putting it ;-)

    First, it's not true that the Guardian's technology coverage started with Online. We had some tech content in Futures Micro Guardian from Oct 20, 1983. This was an add-on to Tim Radford's science section, which was called Futures.

    Futures Micro Guardian was when (thanks to Vic Keegan), I started writing a weekly computer column. I launched Computer Guardian on Sept 19, 1985, and covered the Internet and the Web before the Online section appeared on May 19, 1994.

    Comuputer Guardian was broadsheet. Its content was rolled into Online, which was tabloid. Online basically added back the science coverage, still run by Tim Radford, and expanded the space for Internet coverage and games.

    Second, it's not true that "with new editor Charles Arthur, it was rebadged Technology". The Online section was rethought and renamed Technology with the change to the Berliner format, and the launch editor on Sept 15, 2005 was Richard Adams. Charles Arthur joined about two months later.

    Anyway, we had the first and best UK newspaper tech section, we (mainly Azeem Azhar) created the Guardian's first web site, and we (me and Neil McIntosh) launched the Guardian's first real blogs (Onlineblog at Blogger in November 2001, followed by Gamesblog). Over 26 years, that's not a bad run.

  4. Robert

    This isn't quite correct. Online was launched in May 1994. The original editor was Nick Passmore who has gone on to be the Guardian's production editor and then its editorial systems director.

    I joined online on 26 September 1994 as the team monkey. At the time Jack Schofield wrote some computing stories and Tim Radford covered science. In Jan 95 Nick went full time as production editor and I ran the section with a couple off freelancers. Bill O'Neill joined from New Scientist in late 95 and left a little later when Vic took the section over.

    We also launched the Guardian's first news-based web sites through the Online team:
    a. a two page website with political news the day the IRA attacked docklands and shut down the presses
    b. a special on the Scott Report (which was built using Dave Winer's ClayBasket scripting engine!)
    c. Go2 : which was the Guardian Online's daily IT news service (which had a content management system comprising of MacPerl and Quickeys scripts written by Tom Standage, now the Economist's business editor).

    How is that for a bit of boring Graun history.

  5. The Phazer

    It's a good idea to move games coverage into media – the seperation out of a billion dollar content industry into the tech section rather than the media one never made any sense.

    Still, can't really see the rest of it moving into the print MediaGuardian very easily.