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Guardian benefits from Brexit

News, 07 July 2016
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LONDON: Many UK newspapers have experienced sharp rises in circulation in the days following the Brexit vote, and the Guardian has also used the landmark event to make an effective appeal to its readers for donations.

"We experimented by appealing to Guardian readers who value our Brexit coverage to help fund our journalism - either through a monthly or one-off payment," editor-in-chief Katherine Viner told diners gathered in London for the annual ISBA lunch.

"The experiment has proved really successful," she said.

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Figures released last week indicated a surge in the print circulations and website traffic of the country's news brands in the days following the vote to leave the EU as people sought to understand what would happen next.

The Press Gazette reported that The Guardian website had its biggest-ever day on Friday 24 June, with 17m unique users compared with its usual daily average of 8.9m, while the circulation of the Saturday paper was up 20%.

That picture was repeated elsewhere, as Telegraph.co.uk said it reached a record 16.3m global unique users that day, almost four times the normal daily average of 4.3m, while Mail Online said that Friday had been the site's biggest ever day in terms of readers arriving directly to the home page.

Circulation figures were reported to be up 18% at The Times, while the Daily Mail added 90,000 copies to its daily figure.

While a short-term boost might be expected in such circumstances, some were reaping longer term benefits. The Financial Times, for example, said new subscriptions were up 600% per cent in the days following the vote compared to a normal weekend.

While publishers will welcome the renewed interest of readers, they still have to find an answer to the challenge posed by social media which have become increasingly important distribution channels.

"We don't edit by algorithm, we edit by humans," Viner stated, as she observed that both journalists and advertisers were at risk in the fight to be seen in the closed world of Facebook.

"For journalism, it's a fight dictated by an ever-changing and unknown news feed algorithm. For advertising, it's a fight with other advertisers to pay for the most effective slot to make people buy what you're selling."

Data sourced from Campaign, Press Gazette, MediaTel; additional content by Warc staff

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