“Journalism is not an exclusive profession. It has moved on. With improved digital communication and interconnectivity amongst people across the globe, time has drastically changed and gradually people are not in need of journalist to tell their stories to the world,” said Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian newspaper, UK.
Rusbridger spoke about the kind of journalism which, according to him, would be the future in times to come: Open journalism.
This kind of journalism encourages participation, is a non-inert publication, open to the web, helps form communities of joint interests, curates work of other communities, recognises the fact that journalists are not only voices of the authority, aspires to achieve diversity and above all is fiercely transparent and open to challenges and corrections.
He showcased two case studies from across the globe; one showcasing an international journalist and another showcasing independent communities working for their own unique objectives. While in the former case, a journalist was searching for leads in a riot story and had outsourced his leads and ideas to the crowd on social media (Twitter), in the latter case the community heads had bypassed journalists and posted their content on their own live blogs and web pages. Both the approaches garnered far more responses in terms of volume and value, as compared to conventional approaches of storytelling and communicating.
Rusbridger very pertinently asked the question “Who is an expert”. This was a sarcastic question to all the journalists who perceived that they are expert in the domain they cover. He again substantiated his theory by an example wherein a blog in a newspaper received far less responses than the individual blog page of a health expert. “The trick is to provide a platform to experts and let them speak and not the other way round,” he mentioned. He further added, “Journalists need to dump the theory of self importance because there are many far more credible people out there who don’t wish to speak or in some cases are not able to speak but these people are far stronger in terms of content!”
He spoke about the synchronisation taking place between old and new approaches of journalism and how journalism as a profession has to become more open and dual approach-oriented in order to survive. He implied that there is no version of this in which a single approach of writing would work.
“Twitter has become another heavy source of crowd sourcing in terms of news and this trend will accentuate in the future,” mentioned Rusbridger. He stressed that the new way of storytelling is through interactive platform, data visualisation and graphic novelty.
On a question on how does The Guardian mange to block absurd and obscene comments on the digital page, he mentioned that The Guardian has deployed software which filters the comments which may be offensive or absurd in nature. “You have to be prepared for that because digital is an open platform in terms of expression,” he said. To another questioned which asked for RoI distribution, he shared that digital platform of the paper now contributes to 25 per cent of the revenue of Guardian and this number is growing at a rate of 20 per cent every year.
Rusbridger summed up by saying that ‘Change’ is the way forward and journalists need to embrace it.
Rusbridger was speaking at the Press Club, Mumbai on Tuesday evening on the theme: ‘Future of journalism in the digital age’.