A week in London

It was a great week in London. I was dragging myself here, what with my syncopated, scatting heart — and getting around wasn’t easy as a result. But I’m quite glad I came. I found news people here eager and ready for change, even if they can’t yet define what that change will be. There’s a different buzz here.

I spent two delightful days at The Guardian. It was a consulting gig, and so anything I say should be taken with a block of salt. But I shamelessly sucked up to them. I said in one session that when I came to London early in my career, I wished I could someday write or work for a paper such as this; now I have. I am quite impressed with the culture of this place. From the top down — editor Alan Rusbridger, chief exec Carolyn McCall, online editor Emily Bell, and online business head Simon Waldman — they display the courage to brainstorm the future. I also got to see Comment is Free, Guardian Unlimited’s oddly titled new opinion aggregator, which will launch very shortly. It has been compared with the HuffingtonPost but it appears it won’t be a competitor; Arianna’s going to blog a bit for them.

I spent some time with Associated New Media, the online arm of the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard: very different business circumstances, challenges, and goals and all the more fascinating for the contrast.

And this morning, I snuck away from OPA to meet folks at BBCNews.com, where they have been working hard to turn news into an API and I can’t wait to visit again.

In the middle, there were lots of fascinating hallway talks with media folks from Europe and elsewhere at the Online Publishers Association confab. I’ve become friends with some folks at Burda — Jochen Wegner, the editor of Focus.de, and Marcel Reichert, a strategy exec at the corporation — and got to talk with people from Der Spiegel, Le Monde, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the editor of OhMyNews.com International, and many more. Again, as Rafat says, more buzz.

I’m letting some of the things I learned from these folks ferment like fine beer and you’ll see it bubbling up later.

Bottom line: It’s good to break out of the borders.