IF I’d had a spare £500, I would have headed down to the Guardian’s beautiful offices in King’s Cross – they are amazing, but do they have a fox in the garden like the CNJ? – to hear FOI campaigner and journalist Heather Brooke and the paper’s Paul Lewis running a masterclass in investigative journalism earlier this year.
But – talking of the Guardian – what does Heather Brooke really think of Open Journalism, the Guardian’s branding of a more participative reporting across different platforms? The buzz that came with the cinematic Three Little Pigs ad. Heather was talking at a writer’s festival in Sydney this week and said she had changed her mind about the wisdom of it all, and now saw it as a “fail”. She said (the transcript says):
I’m actually…can I go on record here in a controversial way and say I’m very much against what The Guardian is doing, and the reason I say that is because originally I was probably a fan of it, but now I just see it as a fail…it’s a failed business model. It is an unsustainable business model to give away news for free, because news is not free, it’s expensive.
It’s expensive both in terms of resources of the journalist’s time and also legal risk, getting sued. Somebody has to pay for that cost, and actually what The Guardian does, by giving it away for free, is it continues this unrealistic expectation the public has that you can do good civic journalism for nothing, and you can’t, and it makes it harder for other newspapers and other journalists to demand to be paid for their work, and I feel it’s unsustainable. I mean, the fact of the matter is The Guardian is haemorrhaging cash at a colossal rate.
Nothing a few masterclass ticket sales can’t fix.
(Thanks to former CNJ reporter Charlotte Chambers who now lives in Australia for the link)