Guardian boss Ian McClelland to return to UK as masthead begins hunt for new local MD

The Guardian Australia boss Ian McClelland is to move with the organisation back to London four years after launching the masthead Down Under.

McClelland: Taken Guardian Australia towards breakeven

McClelland will become Guardian Media Group’s director of corporate development.

The Guardian Australia launched in May 2013, with initial financial help from millionaire philanthropist Graeme Wood.

The masthead quickly found an audience and after initially heavy losses – which it says were always part of its plan – is now approaching break even. In the most recent Nielsen news ratings, The Guardian was Australia’s fifth biggest site, with an audience in October of 2.818m.

Mumbrella understands that Guardian Australia reduced a seven figure loss in the 2016 financial year to a six figure loss in the 2017 financial year. In its current financial year (which ends on March 31 because it follows a UK reporting cycle), the company is believed to be breaking even for the first nine months, with hopes of turning a small profit by the end of the cycle.

The Guardian will now hunt for a new MD in Australia, while Evelyn Webster, who currently runs The Guardian’s US site will become CEO for both The Guardian Australia and The Guardian US.

McClelland spent his early career in digital media in London, before a stint in Luxembourg leading media giant RTRL’s digital assets. Prior to The Guardian, he was head of strategy and digital for Fremantle Media’s branded content arm Spring.

“It’s been a huge privilege to help launch and grow Guardian Australia, which has become a vital and distinctive news source for millions of Australians. It’s satisfying to be leaving Guardian Australia in such a robust position; from our brilliant journalism to our strong relationships with advertisers and readers,” said McClelland in a statement.

He added: “I’m very excited about my new role and helping to put the Guardian on a long-term path to sustainability.” The Guardian is owned by UK based organisation Scott Trust.

As well as advertising, the Australian site is also funded through branded content unit Guardian Labs, philanthropic donations and reader membership.

Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor said: “It’s been a great pleasure working with Ian to adapt Guardian Australia to the changing business environment and to launch the membership program which has seen readers respond so positively to our journalism.”

“Guardian Australia will continue with its primary editorial mission to tell essential Australian stories to its Australian audience and to Guardian readers around the world.”

The Guardian’s Australia chief financial officer Matt Connor will act as interim managing director while McClelland will remain on the board until the new managing director is hired.


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