Guardian's Rusbridger admits to no 'credible five-year business plan'

No national newspaper group has a “credible five year business plan” was the unequivocal verdict of Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, speaking at the paper’s 190th anniversary event last night.

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Rusbridger’s assessment of the current woes of the newspaper industry came as he fielded questions from guests at The Guardian offices, after he and Guardian writer Stephen Moss gave a snapshot review of the paper’s history.

Rusbridger and Moss answered questions on disparate subjects, including the future of newspapers, The Guardian’s push into the US, phone-hacking, cut-price newspapers, and their favourite Guardian moments.

Questioned about the future of newspapers, Rusbridger, on the whole, painted a positive outlook, but with the caveat that "nobody can point to a credible five-year business plan".

He added that he was "convinced that the journalistic techniques [employed at The Guardian] mean we are telling stories better than before" and added that the newspaper’s "move into America in a more determined way" would help performance of Guardian News & Media (GNM), parent company of The Guardian.

GNM is opening an office in New York, as it moves to expand into the world’s largest and most affluent English-speaking market.

Rusbridger’s comments came on the same day as Guardian.co.uk revealed an audited ABCe daily average user figure of 2,407,265 in March, maintaining its position as the second-most popular UK newspaper for daily users by some margin.

The Guardian editor flag-waved its ABCe performance, adding that newspapers needed to "get in a mindset beyond print" in the face of heightened competition from digital alternatives.

Executives at GNM are currently looking at ways to charge for digital services, while keeping The Guardian website free of charge.

It is set to launch a new iPad app and already charges a subscription for its iPhone app.

Commenting on which platforms consumers will favour reading their newspapers on in future, Rusbridger said: "No one can predict what platforms are going to come through."

The Guardian editor complemented rival The Independent on launching the cut-price sister paper i, although he noted its circulation had plateaued and said it would be difficult to maintain without TV advertising support.