The journalism challenge
Hey, I'm particularly pleased to be talking in the stop-gaps part of today as I work for a stop-gap that has been going for about a hundred and ninety three years, which is The Guardian, and so I think also as part of the mainstream media, I should apologise for our business model, which is to give you free content in exchange for taking a bit of information about you and selling it to advertisers. I'm sorry, but you know; it works. At least we do it as not for profit, and kind of the case I want to make for you a little bit today is that the mainstream media is actually worth dealing with, and what our job is and why it's useful to you and why you kind of should want to help us.
Hopefully, the useful bit of this is that The Guardian, along with a lot of other places, helped report the Snowden story which has told us all a lot about the threats to our privacy and what we can do to deal with it and also why we have to and it's energised the populous, and I think before that, there was always this sort of danger as someone who's been very deeply interested in privacy and the internet and all of this stuff for a long time, trying to actually get someone on the street to understand this, to be interested in it, it's a hard sell and especially when we get right into the long grass, as we call can do. You know, it might be quite interesting to those of us in this room, the difference between different types of GNU licences. Every time I write anything, I have to think about a couple, in their fifties, at the breakfast table, opening up a newspaper. Or hopefully, looking at it on the tablet or online, because we kind of prefer that.
But these guys have the political power; they have the money; they have the social contacts. If you can't win over that type of person, you will always stay a fringe product, and so what I like about working in the mainstream media, and I've worked in the alternative media, I worked for Wikileaks, is that I actually get to reach those people. And you can talk to them about anything. You know, we did a piece about secure DNS, which is not the world's sexiest topic, and we got five hundred thousand people looking at it. So we are interested in this; we want to cover this stuff well.
We, especially at The Guardian, are very excited by technology that doesn't follow the usual boring business models. The issue is, you have to help give us ways to make that exciting. If we write about the latest Apple product launch, I can assure you two million people will read it. If they're not reading it for the rest of it, it's because we're not making the story interesting enough, so we've got two jobs: one is to point out what may be Aral would think of as symptoms of what's going wrong, whether that's Google's interpretation of right to be forgotten which has given me nightmares this week. Whether that's what the NSA is doing, whether that's Facebook's terms and conditions, whatever; we can try and pinpoint the symptoms or the problems if we can find them out, if you can help us understand them. If we can do that, that's great. But I think what we all have to think about is how to make the solutions exciting, interesting, easy too, and the moment that you know you're breaking through. The moment you're hitting the mainstream, the moment you actually really change something is when you've got a story that you think, that couple at the breakfast table will read and, you know, please help us write them. And that's all I've got!
Jamie thank you; thank you so much.