The Guardian Media Group, as the name suggests, is the publisher of the United Kingdom’s sole nationally distributed left-wing quality daily newspaper, The Guardian. Since 1993 it’s also been the publisher of the world’s first Sunday newspaper, The Observer, founded 202 years earlier in 1791. Until 2010 it also published a number of local and regional newspapers in the Greater Manchester area and in north-western Surrey and central and eastern Berkshire.
The group’s roots lie in the foundation of the Manchester Guardian in 1821 as a newspaper to defend Radical Liberal interests in the city. However, the company wasn’t established until 1907, when legendary editor C P Scott bought the Guardian from the estate of his cousin Edward Taylor and set up a limited company – Manchester Guardian Ltd – to manage its business affairs.
When the company bought out the Manchester Evening News it was renamed the Manchester Guardian and Evening News Ltd, with a further tweak in 1959 – to Guardian and Manchester Evening News Ltd – to reflect the Manchester Guardian‘s shift to national status. In 1993 it adopted its present name, reflecting its decision to broaden its portfolio to embrace the Web.
GMG bought The Observer from Lonrho plc in 1993.
In the meantime, a major change in the company’s corporate governance took place in 1936 with the creation of the Scott Trust – named after its founder, who had died in 1932 – to safeguard its newspapers’ journalistic freedom and liberal values, as set down in his famous centenary editorial in the Manchester Guardian of 5 May 1921, “A Hundred Years”:
Fundamentally it implies honesty, cleanness, courage, fairness, a sense of duty to the reader and to the community.
The Trust remains the company’s sole shareholder today, although it became a limited company in 2008.
In February 2010 GMG sold its two regional subsidiary companies, MEN Media (publishers of the Manchester Evening News and several other weekly newspapers for Greater Manchester, south-eastern Lancashire and north-eastern Cheshire) and S & B Media (publishers of the Reading Post and other titles for central and eastern Berkshire and north-western Surrey) to Trinity Mirror. With that, GMG withdrew almost entirely from regional and local newspaper publication; the two exceptions, the Woking Review and the Woking News & Mail, were closed down shortly afterwards, although the News & Mail was resurrected as an independent fortnightly title in April 2011.
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