Guardian editor candidates face journalists in election hustings - Press Gazette

Guardian editor candidates face journalists in election hustings

The four publicly-declared candidates for Guardian editor made their case to staff today at a hustings meeting.

All “core editorial staff” will get to vote in the ballot which open tomorrow.

The staff choice as editor is guaranteed a place on the shortlist, but the final decision on who replaces Alan Rusbridger will be made by the Scott Trust. There have been 26 applicants in total for the job.

The four candidates going forward to a vote have all written a 1,000 word statement.

Former Guardian website editor Emily Bell has said that if she got the job she would give herself and other senior staff a pay cut. editor Janine Gibson has called for more international expansion and Guardian US editor Kath Viner has called for more “warmth and fun” in editorial mix.

Wolfgang Blau, who joined Guardian News and Media as director of digital strategy in 2013, has questioned the viability of the Monday to Friday print edition.

The statements are available in full on the website of The Guardian’s National Union of Journalists chapel. Here are extracts from each one:

Emily Bell

Reorienting the Guardian as an organisation will require structural reform. The changes must extend to our technology, our revenue streams and our management roles. Recognising that we are a private not-for-profit does not mean abandoning our commercial endeavours – it is essential that we safeguard our financial stability – but it does mean we will have different benchmarks and standards from profit-maximising commercial companies.

Salaries at the higher end (including that of editor) need to be constrained, bonuses need to be re-evaluated, and we need to be transparent with our pay structures. We also need to advertise and recruit all positions openly and fairly.These are steps that will ensure our conduct reflects our values. They are particularly important as we move to a model in which we are asking readers and foundations for direct support, including through our membership scheme.

We need more data and computationally literate reporters, editors and designers, we need thorough digital security training and practices, and we need journalists who understand how to use the vast amount of information on the social web using search and verification techniques.

Wolfgang Blau

Print journalism as a genre will not disappear and we will need print expertise for many years to come. Especially our three weekly newspapers – the Saturday Guardian, The Observer and also The Guardian Weekly – absolutely can and should have a long and very successful future. The road ahead for our Monday to Friday newspaper is less clear, though. There is not yet a financial model that would suggest phasing out our Monday to Friday print edition within the next three to five years. Acknowledging this reality, we should do two things: Courageously explore a newsroom structure that will allow our digital journalism to become much more competitive than it currently is while also investing in the journalistic excellence, reach and subscription base of our weekly newspapers – especially the Saturday Guardian – so that they are well positioned for a future with weekly newspapers.

Our international expansion is often being described as a smart way of responding to the commercial challenges of the digital age. I think this narrative doesn’t do justice to the Guardian’s history. As you know, Guardian Weekly was founded in 1919 to reach and influence the United States and the world. We should continue in this tradition, but possibly put a moratorium on the launching of full further editions in other countries with large teams on the ground so we can first give our full attention to the Guardian’s US edition. If we want to succeed commercially with our digital journalism, we must succeed in the US. 

Lastly, I want to acknowledge the obvious: I am not a woman and I have not grown up in the United Kingdom. I can only promise to you that as the Editor-in-Chief – should you vote for me and should the Scott Trust choose to appoint me – I will do everything I possibly can to make sure women succeed in their careers at the Guardian, that they are at the core of senior management, that we continue to attract and make a great working environment for women and journalists from many diverse backgrounds around the world.

Janine Gibson

The Guardian was founded after a massacre at a public meeting when 60,000 people gathered in a field to demand a voice. Our continued presence nearly 200 years later, is a place of assembly for the disenfranchised.

We stand up to politicians, corporations, intelligence agencies and governments. And we stand up for the oppressed, victims of torture, asylees, those in poverty.

Unlike other news organisations, we don’t pursue power for ourselves or a proprietor,  our causes are injustice, equality, free speech, fundamental rights, abuse of power. Our influence comes from the demands for change we inspire from our audience.

But we’re also a meeting place for the communities we create around shared passions whether its county cricket, poetry, theatre or watching strangers date wearing Google Glass.

Grow where others retreat. Our world is unbalanced and we need more international correspondents building networks of reporting, including from inside the global south and Europe, majoring on themes such as civil liberties, injustice, the environment, inequality and corruption.

In the UK, we are too London-centric. We’re underrepresented in Manchester, Scotland and the major British cities.  Work harder to diversify our staff – can only report from and reach new communities and readers if we are like them and understand them.

Kath Viner

We have a reputation for playful intelligence, from G2 to the Fiver; a witty voice and distinctive tone. But we can do more, with a focus on warmth and fun.

While the Guardian has a large international readership, and rapidly-expanding editions in the US and Australia, it is not yet truly global. We need to reframe everything we do to speak to a worldwide audience. We need more reporters abroad, particularly where there is little media diversity or free reporting, with bureaus in crucial countries such as India and Nigeria. Most of the defining issues of our time are transnational: economics, climate, surveillance, inequality, technology, war — even sex scandals. Themed roles would help us tell a coherent international story: correspondents for water, fossil fuels, women's rights, a 1% correspondent.

News is a stressful business which needs to be balanced with an energising sense of inclusiveness, purpose and fun.

Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette