Yesterday, in London, these points and principles of a new working practice and online awareness, were announced to editorial staff at the Guardian, Guardian Unlimited and The Observer.
These are clear “marching orders” from Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, to all the troops:
DRAFT PRINCIPLES OF 24/7 WORKING
The Guardian is increasingly becoming a global news provider with an international audience and reputation.
Web users expect to read about news as it happens.
If we don’t update our site continuously readers will go elsewhere.
Our website is crucial to our digital strategy and to the future of the Guardian & Observer.
The international purpose and reach of the Guardian & Observer cannot be achieved by current publication schedules.
The Guardian and Observers’ journalism must be accurate, reliable and trusted.
In any circumstances where speed might compromise trust we should place a greater emphasis on trust.
We still place an extremely high value on depth, complexity and journalism which cannot be rushed.
We recognise that much of our best journalism takes time, patience and diligent research.
24/7 means we will publish material around the clock across seven days, rather than (as at present) for 16 hours a day across five days
It means publishing more of our news according to the demands of the web rather than the rhythms and expectations of a newspaper
Generally, news material which has been written, subbed and legalled may be posted on the web as it becomes available
Exceptions can be made for any stories which the relevant editor wishes to hold back for the print edition
We will continue to use news wires for breaking news but will seek to use our full editorial resources to add “Guardian/Observer” value as soon as possible.
This means adding context, analysis and opinion – and, sometimes, colour.
The above mainly applies in the areas of news (home, foreign, city, sport).
It also applies to commentary and, for instance, arts criticism.
There will be areas of non-news coverage that we wish to extend and explore over seven days.
Our production processes must reflect the needs of the web (e.g. the use of web-friendly headlines as well as newspaper headlines, links, tagging, key wording and so on.)
All journalists across Guardian, GU and Observer will be expected to work according to the above principles.
Editor, The Guardian
Clearly, all this makes a lot of sense.
It doesn’t matter if many traditional newsrooms react to these “principles” with doubts and questions.
But for the leadership of our newspapers we need marching orders like these.
There is no more time left if you want to catch the future.
It’s a survival strategy.
And the first thing needed is editors with vision, giving clear messages.
Alan Rusbridger is one of them.