October 10, 2011

What if The Guardian Doesn’t Get It?

A big what-if from The Guardian:

The idea of giving this information away before publication might therefore seem to be putting digital dogma before common sense. Just because the internet theoretically allows journalists to give readers a peek behind the curtain by sharing the list with them does not make it a good idea.

We suspect otherwise though at the Guardian. What if readers were able to help newsdesks work out which stories were worth investing precious reporting resources in? What if all those experts who delight in telling us what’s wrong with our stories after they’ve been published could be enlisted into giving us more clues beforehand? What if the process of working out what to investigate actually becomes part of the news itself?

OK, fine. But I think news organizations should have been leading this revolution rather than following it. That’s what’s going on here — following. Can you say (Pulitzer Prize winnerProPublica?

For that matter, can you say Ozarks News Journal? We’ve opened our “newslists” to our readers through our Facebook group from day one. Granted, we’re not the big dog in town. But we have reported on important issues and done so differently from other news media in town. It’s a student project, i.e. they are still learning.

How committed is The Guardian to this new rhetoric of conversation? Take a look:

It’s a bit of a leap in the dark, we know, so we’ve decided to structure it as a short trial starting this week and we are ready to pull the plug if we suspect we’re giving away too much competitive advantage or falling on deaf ears. What we won’t do is give up our right to exercise our own judgment about which stories are important, or pay much attention to pestering from PR people, but we do think it is worth listening to our readers.

It was a “bit of a leap” 10 years ago. Today it’s what I’m teaching my journalism students.

Further, The Guardian doesn’t make it easy to participate. What appears to be the main page for the newslist (it isn’t entirely clear but should be) has neither instructions for participating nor the newslist itself. You have to click through to a blog post to find these things.

And, all too typical, a link to Open Newslist is nowhere to be found on the front page.

3 Responses

  1. […] della redazione di questo articolo, ne parlano anche: The New York Times, Mashable!, 10,000 Words, Rhetorica, Press Gazette, Magforum, Poynter e Jon Slattery. Condividilo:StampaEmailLike this:LikeBe the first […]

  2. “And, all too typical, a link to Open Newslist is nowhere to be found on the front page.”

    Isn’t that quite an old media attitude in itself – that every single thing you do on a website has to be on “the front page”? You’ll see as the week goes on we’ve been placing a promo for it higher and higher on the homepage. It is an experiment, and maybe it will work better if only hardcore news junkies know about it and set the tone with it first before inviting everybody in?

  3. acline 

    Martin… It may also be that “news junkies” are not the ones the Guardian wants to encourage. Hmmmm… it’s an interesting question re: what kind of audience would make this collaborative effort “work better”? I’d like to know the answer.

    And re: front page link, yes, it is an old idea by internet standards. It’s an easy shot to take. But I still do believe in some traditional things 😉