One thought on “The BBC opens up”

  1. Post from Piers Fawkes of who counters Alan Rusbridger’s (publisher of the Guardian) claim that blogs can never replicate mainstream media with their large teams of professional journalists. Fawkes describes blogs as potentially the new portals and content aggregators – very much in line with our view of editors as content curators.

    A couple of week’s ago Alan Rusbridger, the publisher of the Guardian Newspaper – a globally respected newspaper – told the world:

    “But no one will actually go to the risk and expense of setting up a global network of people whose only aim in their professional lives is to find things out, establish if they’re true, and write about them quickly, accurately and comprehensibly.”
    Mr Rusbridger said the “blogosphere, which is frequently parasitical on the mainstream media it so remorselessly critiques, can’t ever hope to replicate that”.
    Quite honestly, it’s like the Town Crier saying there’s no future in printed news.
    Rusbridger’s argument uses the fact that the Guardian has 600 journalists contributing to their paper and that blogs and even Google or Yahoo could never compete.

    Yahoo, Google, WEdia – hey, even PSFK – may never produce the original craftsmanship that 600 writers at the Guardian may take days to produce. But hey, we can get original crafted news from 600 sources from around the world. Instantly through RSS.

    Web 1.0 – Yahoo, Google, AOL were the new portals.
    web 2.0 – Blogs are the new portals.

    Ok, ok. Google, Yahoo and PSFK offer aggregation of content. But surely 75% of the Guardian is aggregated content from news sources (in fact, we suspect a fair proportion of those 600 journalists are employed just to rewrite Reuters/AP news and press releases). Also, the portals can sprinkle original content too – this is an example.

    Beyond the product – the key thing Rusbridger has ignored is the concept of the ‘brand’ – the way consumers perceive and relate the Guardian. People like to read the Guardian because it reports news and provides commentary in a specific political and cultural slant (there’s also something about being seen reading something so clever, but we’ll leave that theory for now). People don’t read it because it contains the Guardian’s news. The Guardian newspaper has news provided by the Guardian – a brand they trust.

    When you boil it down. The brand is all that the Guardian relies on. And it’s what it competes on – not staff size. The problem for Guardian is that Yahoo, Google, PSFK, Treehugger, Gawker, Londoist, Flavorpill and every other portal small and large are building audiences that trust their brands.

    Yes, Guardian is a quality brand carried by a fairly unique voice and some good innovation in the web. But if Rusbridger ignores the development of new brands – the new portals – then these other guardians of the news will take his newspaper’s place.

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