Perceptions of News & Reporting

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The Guardian SWOT Analysis

While the Guardian's international dominance and more relaxed libel restrictions continue to represent significant competitive advantages for the newspaper in the US market, its profit weakness in the face of intense American media competition has the potential to undermine its position in the US news industry.


  • Perhaps The Guardian's greatest strength both in the US news market as well as internationally is the newspaper's dominance in the global news industry and strong reputation as a leader in news reporting.
  • According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, The Guardian is widely considered to be highly "influential" and one of the UK's "leading newspapers."
  • Similarly, The New York Times recently highlighted The Guardian's "outsized international influence" and average weekday print run of approximately 146,000.
  • Even compared will all available online media, The Guardian is ranked as the 157th most visited website worldwide, adding to both its cache and impact.
  • Particularly in the US, The Guardian has developed a reputation for publishing ground-breaking investigative journalism, such as the newspaper's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of NSA contractor Edward Snowden and his release of confidential US documents.
  • As such, top-tier US outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post recognize The Guardian's leadership in US investigative journalism, adding that the UK newspaper has joined a prestigious group that had "largely been the domain of American publications" with its award-winning US reporting.


  • However, The Guardian's international presence and reputation has come at a significant cost, which represents one of the newspaper's greatest weaknesses in the US market and abroad.
  • Notably, The Guardian recently switched its newspaper format to that of a tabloid in order to manage the rising costs of its "aggressive international expansion."
  • In particular, The New York Times highlighted The Guardian's "heavy losses" in recent years, including the newspaper's loss of £44.7 million in 2017 and £68.7 million in 2016.
  • In response, the newspaper has not only transformed its print format but has cut hundreds of jobs and sold its stake in a trade publication group.
  • While many US-based and international newspapers are facing similar budget pressure, the fact that The Guardian is struggling with profitability represents a significant weakness in its ability to innovate, mount an aggressive marketing strategy in the US or potentially remain solvent.


  • However, the fact that The Guardian has refused to set up paywalls in the face of cost pressure represents one of the newspaper's opportunities in the US newspaper market.
  • Notably, many of The Guardian's competitors in America such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Times have established paywalls to address profitability challenges, leaving The Guardian as one of the more accessible top-tier outlets in the country.
  • Meanwhile, another opportunity for The Guardian is the fact that it is bound by much less stringent libel laws from its UK headquarters, as compared with any US-based publications.
  • These more relaxed standards will continue to enable The Guardian to release more "dramatic" and "ambitious" news stories in the American market as compared with US-based rivals.


  • In spite of these opportunities, The Guardian continues to face the significant threat of intense competition in the US news market.
  • Recently, The City University of New York's Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism characterized other media outlets in the US as "vicious newspaper competitors" for The Guardian.
  • Not only is the competition intense, but The Guardian's former editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger highlighted the volume and diversity of the newspaper's rivals in a recent interview with The Washington Post.
  • Notably, The Guardian faces the threat of competition from a diverse array of publications including top-tier US-based media (e.g, The New York Times), mainstream American broadcasters (e.g., Fox News) and international peers (e.g., Daily Mail, BBC).
  • Moreover, Mr. Rusbridger highlighted how the media landscape is increasingly changing to one of "simple messages and glaring headlines," a transformation or industry trend that is inconsistent with The Guardian's ethos of robust journalism.
  • Even with its shift to a tabloid format newspaper, The Guardian has remained firm in its commitment to retaining the quality and depth of its journalism, and may find the new premium placed on "simplified media" in the US to represent a meaningful threat to its future success.

Research Strategy

Please note, an extensive review of credible media sources, industry reports and articles from experts in the news and media industry identified limited information on the competitive position of The Guardian in the US market. Of the limited information available, most was from less credible and/or dated publications. This is likely due to the relatively specific nature of this request, given that The Guardian is headquartered outside of the US and operates in a variety of international markets. However, a deeper review of literature by US-based media outlets covering The Guardian provided information and perspectives that were relevant in determining the news organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the US news industry. The findings from this review of US-based coverage of The Guardian was provided above.