The Guardian’s “Open Journalism” In Practice

The Guardian launched its “Open Journalism” approach last month.

I’m still not entirely clear what the Guardian means when they talk about non-journalists “contributing to our journalism”, as they put it. Here’s one description:

Adam Freeman, executive director of commercial at Guardian News & Media, told a conference in Oxford that the loss-making newspaper was moving towards an “open vision for journalism”, whereby laypeople, who may not have any formal expertise, will be allowed key to the media group’s future.

“[It] is a collaboration between journalists within the building and experts out of the building … who are experts because they care about the subject matter as much as we do. They don’t have to be called professor,” he said.

This is how Alan Rusbridger puts it:

So what does open journalism look like? A man dies at the heart of a protest: a reporter wants to discover the truth. A journalist is seeking to contact anyone who can explain how another victim died while being restrained on a plane. A newsroom has to digest 400,000 official documents released simultaneously.

The travel section is searching for a thousand people who know Berlin like the back of their hand. The environment team is seeking to expand the range, authority and depth of their coverage. The foreign desk wants to harness as many Arab voices as possible to help report and explain the spring revolutions.

The sports editor is wondering how best to cover every one of the 32 national football teams in the World Cup. The comment editors would like to broaden the spectrum of debate to include political thinkers scientists, theologians, lawyers … and numerous others in society and around the world whose voice is not always heard.

And this is what Open Journalism looks like in practice.

Watch the Guardian’s interview with a series of passers by who are asked to share their wisdom on the following question:

It seems Boris Johnson is never far from the public eye. But do you know what he actually does? Londoners tell us what they know about the mayor’s role and what goes on inside City Hall, and whether they think he’s doing a good job

The first man didn’t know whether he’d got the name of the Mayor right. The next interviewee expresses the view that the Mayor “gets a nice wage”. Somebody says that he’s “terrific”. The next person ums and ahs and says that she’s not sure a Mayor is necessary. Another speaker chips in with his views on Boris Johnson’s likely prospects in rising to the top of the Tory hierarchy. The first interviewee then explains that he didn’t know that the Mayor worked out of the GLA building.

Brilliant stuff. The future of the Guardian as a trusted source for expert news and opinion is assured.