Alan Rusbridger on the future of news

Alan Rusbridger is the editor-in-chief of The Guardian, easily one of the most prestigious newspapers in the English-speaking world, and is widely admired as a journalist’s journalist. At the same time, he has also been one of the driving forces behind making his newspaper a leader online, which has involved embracing community — including ground-breaking experiments such as Comment Is Free — as well as social-media tools such as Twitter. The video embedded here (click through if you’re reading this via RSS) is a great summary of some of his views about the future of newspapers, the wisdom of the crowd, the blurring of the line between journalists and non-journalists, the need for community and the appeal of Twitter. Highly recommended. Hat tip to Adam Tinworth for the link to the video.

The Guardian ups the ante on APIs

The New York Times was the first major newspaper to take its cue from Google and open up its data via an API (which stands for application programming interface). In a nutshell, this allows developers to write programs that can automatically access the New York Times database, within certain limits, and use that data in mashups, etc. Now the Guardian newspaper in Britain has upped the ante: not only has it opened its data up via an API, but it has also done two things that the NYT has not — namely, it provides the full text of its articles to users of the API (while the Times restricts developers to an excerpt only) and it also allows the data to be used in for-profit ventures, while the Times restricts its data to non-profit purposes.

As Shafqat at NewsCred notes on his blog, these two differences are pretty important, and I would argue that the Guardian has really put its money where its mouth is in terms of turning its paper into a platform (to use the title of a blog post I wrote when the NYT came out with its open API). Not to denigrate what the Times has done at all, mind you — an API of any kind is a huge leap, and one that many newspapers likely wouldn’t have the guts to take, limits or no limits. But to provide full-text access to all Guardian news articles going back to 1999, and to allow all of this data and more to be used in profit-making ventures as well, takes the whole effort to another level entirely.

(read the rest of this post at the Nieman Journalism Lab blog)

Guardian buys PaidContent = Smart

I’ve been off most of this week on a family-related trip, but (thanks to the Wi-Fi at the trailer park) I had to take note of the deal that Guardian Media just did to acquire PaidContent, a story broken by the ever-resourceful Kara Swisher of All Things D. Rafat Ali, the former journalist who founded the company several years ago, is a smart guy — but I would argue that Guardian Media is even smarter. They have seen how quickly and relatively easily Rafat and his team of writers have been able to build a powerful digital-media company with a reputation for quality reporting and coverage of the media business — and not the showbiz personality side, but the actual nuts and bolts.

In effect, Rafat has built something that in an earlier time would have been a magazine — a trade mag perhaps, not unlike something Ziff-Davis or CMP would have owned. But he was able to do it substantially cheaper and faster, and I would argue that the entity he created is infinitely more flexible and adaptable than any printed magazine (and when I say that he did it quickly and easily, obviously it took years of hard work and vision by Rafat). Kudos to him and the rest of the team. Jemima Kiss at the Guardian, who knows Rafat well and has written for PaidContent, has some more on the deal. PaidContent will become part of the trade-press and professional services division of Guardian Media. My friend Om Malik has some worthwhile thoughts on the deal as well.

Update:

Kara says she’s been asking around to see who else in the online space might get snapped up, and apparently TechCrunch has been talking to AOL about a deal in the $20-million to $30-million range. I’ve got an email in to Mike Arrington to see if he has any comment.