Just when I was wondering what to write about, the above pops up in my Twitter feed.
That’s right. In keeping with their “Digital first” manta, The Guardian has announced it will launch an open newsdesk trial in the morning.
The thinking behind the move goes something like this: aside from the precious exclusives, the newslist of many news organisations is a rather routine document that holds little differentiation in stories from one newsroom to the next - “same news, different headlines" is a common phrase. With that in mind, only minor competitive advantage can be gained by withholding this from the intended reader, with an argument for there being significant benefits to the publisher of doing the opposite.
What are these potential benefits? Perhaps the biggest is that it opens up a new engagement opportunity for guardian.co.uk, a site built to serve that very virtue. By granting a preview to their readers and encouraging feedback, they are making the process more transparent, participatory, and immediate. The key here is first-mover advantage… a godsend in news, let alone print. That is, at least, until others follow suit, assuming it is success.
The Guardian also believe readers may be able to add value in the process, helping them decided where to devote and demote resources and column inches. Presumably they will also be gauging reader perspectives on the individual news stories and inviting ideas for new inclusions. Twitter has been chosen as the primary channel for this open newsroom, which naturally means competitors will be able to eavesdrop on the conversation both ways – from newslist to audience, and their subsequent response.
It’s not yet clear how much information will be shared and how different scenarios will play out (e.g. how much control will The Guardian relinquish to its readers if they disagree with the newslist?). With the “experiment” launching via a new blog in the morning, I guess we’ll find out shortly. Either way it’s a bold move and the industry is certainly in need of more of those.