Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger was in a contemplative mood when he gave a talk at Oxford University last week. Against the backdrop of industry malaise, and despite predictions that the coming year will see a “harvesting of local newspapers”, Rusbridger managed to strike an upbeat note about the Guardian’s growing onrusbridger2line audience on the other side of the Atlantic.

This is the liberal hour in America, and it is the Guardian’s opportunity given its website and liberal style.

We’ve never spent a penny marketing it anywhere outside the UK. The audience came to us.

Rusbridger described the US’ leading papers as “amazingly parochial” and said that journalistically, America was withdrawing from the world.

He referred to American papers’ initial reaction to the Mumbai massacre, which they gave scant coverage.

The only problem at the moment is the fact search engines soak up the lion’s share of advertising revenue on the web. “They have got in between us and the advertisers,” Rusbridger said. “At some point there is going to be a sorting out of rules of trade between Google and content providers.”

He’ll need a strong latte before that meeting.

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According to Financial Times editor Lionel Barber:

 

The imperial status of the mainstream media – the television networks, big metropolitan dailies and lofty commentators – has been shaken. The lay-offs of hundreds of US newspaper journalists this summer are a symptom of a wider malaise.

 

We are witnessing a shift in the balance of power towards new media, with wholesale repercussions for the practice of journalism.

 

Apparently the International Herald Tribune, for decades a source of news for Americans venturing abroad, is folding its web operation into the New York Times site as online news has made its business model redundant.

 

How long before the print version follows suit?