The Guardian is spending a few years building its own platform, but can every news organisation afford this? No. And will technology ultimately differentiate one news provider from another? I doubt it. So why not share a platform with many sites, sources and voices? In the UK, I have suggested – naively, I know – that the BBC should provide that platform for all news efforts (professional and amateur). Isn’t that a proper definition of public-service publishing?
A shared platform for news organisations wouldn’t be anticompetitive: it would be pro-efficiency. If any paper, station or site could pluck software from the cloud and freely use and adapt it to perform essential functions then it could concentrate its resources on what matters – journalism.
At the Guardian’s seminar, I asked what the paper is if not a manufacturer, distributor or technology company. “Fundamentally, it’s courageous, independent, liberal journalism,” was one editor’s reply. “That’s the essence of the Guardian, or should be.”
Exactly right. But this also treats the Guardian as a product and I asked – in the spirit of Roussel’s effort to reimagine a paper – whether online it should be something else, with a different relationship to its public: a platform, a network, a community, a collaboration. Should the Guardian strive to be the world’s leading liberal voice – or voices?
Thanks again to Edward Roussel and Bob Wyman for inspiring the discussion.