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Coffee House Steerpike

Guardian hacks get cold feet over a move up North

9 April 2017

10:52 PM

9 April 2017

10:52 PM

Oh dear. Last week the Times reported that brains at the Grauniad are pondering moving the paper’s offices back to Manchester in an attempt to save money. Although Mr S heralded the move the paper’s best idea in decades, not everyone agrees.

While Steerpike was sure the paper’s leading columnists would jump at the chance to up sticks and experience the Brexit divide first hand (and discover what led many to vote Leave in Greater Manchester), it seems the staff take a different view. Writing in the Guardian over the weekend, Peter Preston has poured cold water on the idea — suggesting a return to Manchester would achieve very little:

‘Industry wisdom would hold that all of Britain isn’t a big enough market in a digital world. Technical wisdom has it that you can outsource editorial production to Press Association subs in East Yorkshire. BBC wisdom would say Salford Quays is a very pleasant media hot spot.

All true, up to a point. Yet look at just a few streets in Manhattan and ask if some kind of digital diaspora is spreading the fruits of the web far and wide. Actually not. Facebook, Google, the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, BuzzFeed and countless more cluster in top-notch East Side/West Side order. They testify to the continuing attraction of big offices, and the desire to gather “where it’s at”.’

Preston concludes that a look at the BBC’s Salford branch ‘doesn’t exactly make a countervailing case’. It seems the paper’s editor Katharine Viner will need to dig a bit deeper if she wishes to convince the Guardian metropolitan elite that it really is better up north.

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