Speaking at this year's second Coventry Coversation talk, run by the Coventry University journalism department, Rusbridger said that despite significant losses the Guardian had no plans to put up pay walls.
Discussing Rupert Murdoch's plans to charge for News International's online content, Rusbridger said: "It would be crazy if we were to all jump behind a pay wall and imagine that would solve things." He conceded that, whilst pay walls are unlikely to be erected around Guardian.co.uk, it was good that journalism was "trying different things."
Rusbridger confirmed that reports about the newspaper's losses were accurate at the peak of the crisis, but said that being owned by The Scott Trust helped ease the financial difficulties.
The Guardian seems to have hit on a succesful revenue stream with its new iPhone app, selling 70,000 editions at £2.39 each since the launch in December. The app received a four and a half out of five rating on the Apple site, taking it straight to the top of the paid app chart. Rusbridger admitted that it had exceeded all expectations and highlighted that people are willing to pay for content on a mobile platform.
Asked what kind of skills he looks for from applicants to the Guardian, Rusbridger said that an understanding of new media was high on the agenda, along with "more stamina, more persistence, more cunning, more ability". He explained that successful news production was going to require the skills to use the latest technology, and said that those uncomfortable with ambiguity and insecurity would be well advised to avoid going into journalism.
In July last year it was reported in the Guardian that, following an 11 per cent rise in his salary to £445,000 the previous year, Rusbridger was taking a 10 per cent pay cut. When asked by a student if he felt guilty taking home nearly £500,000 when the paper was losing money, he defended his position, claiming that the amount he earns is less than other national newspaper editors. He also claimed to have fought hard for the 10 per cent cut: "I'm the only journalist at the Guardian, possibly Fleet Street, to actually beg for my pay to be cut down."
Asked whether the Guardian was a sinking ship, Rusbridger said: "No not at all, but If I stop to think about the business model it is sometimes quite scary." He advised the assembled journalism students not to dwell too much on the financial difficulties facing the industry, telling them instead to "think about the journalism rather than worrying so much about the business model."
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