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Guardian bosses accused of 'failure' by former executive

LONDON - Albert Scardino, a former senior editor at The Guardian, has launched a broadside at the paper's senior management, saying they are a failure and have 'no idea' how to take advantage of its journalistic success.

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Scardino was quoted in today's Daily Telegraph, in an article questioning the circulation performance of The Guardian since its relaunch in September and the future strategy of Guardian Media Group.

"Journalistically, the paper is one of the most successful of its generation. But the commercial and managerial sides of The Guardian are a failure by any meaningful performance benchmark," he said.

He accused the management of being "scared to death of exploring the potential of the web", and having no idea how to exploit the 12m global readers the Guardian's pioneering online arm now attracts.

Scardino did not name names, but he is clearly referring to Carolyn McCall, chief executive of Guardian Newspapers, and Sir Robert Phyllis, chief executive of Guardian Media Group.

The Guardian's relaunch in the Berliner format has been widely praised, and caused its September circulation to leap 18.29% from August to 404,187. However, it has failed to sustain that momentum and its November figure was 401,029.

The Telegraph article highlighted The Guardian's problems with public sector job ads. Since January, the volume of ads in the paper has dropped 10.4% while the volume of ads in all quality papers has dropped 8.8%.

A Guardian spokesman countered what he called a "hatchet job" by the Telegraph by saying Scardino was ill-placed to criticise.

"Albert Scardino played no part whatsoever in the commercial strategy of the organisation and therefore is not well-placed to comment on it. His main role involved personnel development and diversity training within editorial," he said.

The spokeman also claimed that the Berliner launch "puts us years ahead of other newspaper groups who are now spending millions of pounds each on their own new full-colour presses" and that The Guardian's digital business model is successful, profitable and is being copied by the Telegraph and The Times.

Scardino's resignation from The Guardian was announced in July. It came a week after the controversial sacking of a trainee journalist who had written a piece about the July 7 suicide bombers.

Dilpazier Aslam's comment article was viewed by some as too sympathetic to the bombers and it subsequently emerged he had not declared his membership of anti-Semitic Islamic group Hizb'ut Tahrir.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger put out a statement that Scardino had decided to leave at the end of his second annual contact in October as executive editor for the home and foreign departments.

At the time, Guardian sources refuted claims that Scardino's departure was linked to the sacking of Aslam because Scardino was responsible for hiring Aslam.

Scardino is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who is married to Pearson chief executive Dame Majorie Scardino.

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