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.

  • Jem

    The Guardian’s new opinion blog is entitled “Comment is Free” presumably a tribute to its longest serving editor; C.P. Snow who in 1921 wrote this in a feature celebrating the centenary of the paper.
    “Comment is free, but facts are sacred… The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard.”

    Glad you liked London Jeff. Good to here you enjoyed your visit to my colleagues over at [BBC] News Interactive.

  • EB

    Your blog is always a treat to read Jeff, thanks for writing while in London… safe travels home.

    re: afib
    Hockey player Mario Lemieux has afib, his treatment has been written about here in the news this week… just thought I’d mention that. (I know all afibs must be different, etc. just FYI)

  • LJ
  • It sounds like you had fun and learned a lot. That’s what travel is all about at its best.

    Glad to hear you had a safe and enjoyable trip.

  • Well, your Dell Hell is getting into the language — I wrote about the latest in my newbie blogzine post Tech Hell, Dell Hell… (new media and motherhood – warning for the story prior…not for men…)

    I was in London in February. “Quite” glad you went to learn about what is going on there… They seem to be a bit ahead of us, esp. BBC? Except WaPo.. I think they are doing great.

    And yep, good to break out of the borders… always.
    Cheerio, Hattie
    Media Studies grad studient

  • London’s a great place. Hope you get to the Tate and tell us what’s there. The Gaurdian’s a great paper. I wish we had a national paper like that in the U.S., one that doesn’t water down stories to the eighth grade level.

  • Jeff,

    It was good to see you at the OPA Conference in London. It was a weird experience for me — having worked in the big media/big portal world (Times Mirror, News Corporation, Excite) and now with my start-up based here in the UK, I felt like a minnow amongst the whales.

    This was a conference primarily for big media people — and to me it felt a lot like the U.S. media crowd flying over to London to talk amongst themselves. Europeans were underrepresented on the panels, I thought.

    Who really needed to fly to London, for example, to see the CEO of Scripps Howard give a flashy corporate presentation? Why not the publisher of the Guardian instead? Why not the BBC, which has been doing some amazing things with interactivity for years? Haven’t these U.S. media execs seen (or given) enough of those Scripps-like presentations on their side of the pond?

    At the end of the conference I overheard one of the OPA staff say, “We should do this next year in Korea!” I really doubt I’ll be there. No expense account here.

    Best wishes and I hope to see you again soon!

    Evan Rudowski

  • Pingback: Huffington will post on Guardian blog | Blog Watches Dog()

  • Evan,
    I think you’re right about the panels but I suspect there’s a decent alibi in that this was the first time the OPA did this and you tend to strongarm those you know and love. I didn’t fill the panel seats originally but got to help fill two seats when changes needed to be made and I made sure to do so with Europeans and the OPA people were delighted with that.
    As for Scripps…. Yes, for a company that does good work, it was a shockingly awful speech. I left.
    As for the Americans talking to each other…. Well, that’s what the hallway is all about, eh? I sought out conversations with people I hadn’t met and was absolutely delighted to get to see people from Europe — and I heard Europeans say they were delighted to get to speak to Americans without the cost of the trip, since so many conferences are held over on my side of the Atlantic.
    One of the best moments I had at the conference was sitting over drinks (hallway + wine) with people from Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and Focus.de discussing the differences in blogging and media cultures.
    I hope they hold the next one in Europe.
    And it was good to see you again after so many years.

  • With newspaper giants like The Guardian finally realising the worth of citizen views, opinion, comment and news as expressed on blogs and forums and trying to find the best way in which to incorporate them into its own operation, it is more confirmation if any were needed that Citizen Journalism is no longer a concept but a working reality exemplified by The-Latest.com the UK’s premier Citizen Journalism site. We uncover news about almost forgotten subjects or information some people would rather you did not read. We keep tabs on news that doesn’t get reported from the angle you want. We have fun as well.

  • greeneyeshade

    Jem: The Guardian’s great editor was C.P. Scott; C.P. Snow was the novelist and ‘two cultures’ man. I believe the Guardian’s owner is still called the Scott Trust.