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Observer lives to fight another day

Paper will continue to be published but at what cost?

As I anticipated on Wednesday, Guardian News & Media confirmed a few minutes ago that it would continue to publish the Observer -- ending weeks of speculation over the title's future. But the paper's staff will immediately ask: "At what cost?"

The Guardian announcement promises "further editorial integration" between the two titles, something that could spell the end of the Observer's popular monthly supplements and its stand-alone business section. The title's journalists are unlikely to be content with a vastly slimmed-down version of the paper that leaves it unable to compete with its Sunday rivals.

Guardian Media Group (GMG) had considered closing the Observer in an attempt to stem losses that stood at nearly £90m this year.

For now the title's future is safe, but unless the Guardian finds a way to monetise its vast online presence the proposal is likely to be revisited.

The Scott Trust, which owns GMG, is mandated to "to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity" but that duty does not extend to the Observer.