The Cudlipp Speakers | Alan Rusbridger
Last year, 2010, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, addressed the audience on matters concerning the future of journalism.
Rusbridger began his speech by talking about newspaper business models, albeit with a caveat, when commenting: “If you only think about business models you can scare yourself into total paralysis.”
“Having said that,” he went on, “the business model is that one that says we must charge for all content online. It's the argument that says the age of free is over: we must now extract direct monetary return from the content we create in all digital forms.”
The argument that the age of free is over is, according to Rusbridger, being made by the “great newspaper radical Rupert Murdoch” and one that is forcing others to consider this view.
“If, like Hugh Cudlipp, you believe that journalism actually matters, has some kind of moral purpose and effect, then these are decisions of great significance to society as a whole,” said Rusbridger in underlining the importance of the issue.
Describing the decision to introduce pay walls as a “hunch”, Rusbridger said: “It may be right for the Times of London and New York, but not for everyone. It may be right at some point for everybody in the future, but not yet.
There is probably general agreement that we may all want to charge for specialist, highly-targeted, hard-to-replicate content. It's the "universal" bit that is uncertain.”
Rusbridger also spoke about, the “mutualised interest” between news organisations and social media websites and felt that the industry was “edging away from the binary sterility of the debate between mainstream media and new forms which were supposed to replace us”.
“A mainstream news organisation can harness something of the web's power. It is not about replacing the skills and knowledge of journalists with user generated content. It is about experimenting with the balance of what we know, what we can do, with what they know, what they can do.”