The Guardian’s Open Weekend 2012

March 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

This past Sunday I went to the Guardian’s inaugural ‘Open Weekend‘ – a chance to get inside the newspaper’s doors (without having to sit through an interview) and listen to speakers, learn a new skill and vocalise your thoughts. 

There were heaps of different sessions to choose to attend, from discussions about phone-hacking & the Arab Spring to panels on sports and politics to ‘master-classes’ where you could learn how to draw a caricature or publish your own novel.

Unfortunately I was a little slow in booking my sessions (it’s true, the early bird really does catch the worm), and so there was limited opportunities by the time I got round to it.

I went to four sessions, but the two that interested me the most were: Clay Shirky in conversation with Alan Rusbridger and Racism in Football.

Because there are two session I want to talk about, I’m going to do this blog in two-parts.

So, without further ado, I bring you

Part One: Clay Shirky in conversation with Alan Rusbridger

In case you were unaware, Rusbridger is the Guardian’s current editor and Shriky is a lecturer at New York University and in his own words ‘studies the effects of the internet on society.’

The two talked about a number of internet-related things, such as America’s SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) bill which is proposing to give new powers to US law enforcement to fight online trafficking of intellectual property.

Shirky went on to say how data is the new challenge for journalists – that both those coming into the profession and those who have become fixtures need to learn how to turn large amounts of data into stories that people want to read.

The future of news-rooms, according to Shirky

He pointed out how, in the States, the ultimate in investigative journalism, is of course, Watergate and that most journalists desire to find that conspiracy and break  it open.

But that’s not how it works these days.

He says that the best examples of investigative journalism in the last 10 years (in the US) has come through the long hard slog of combing through data.

Q & A

The conversation then was turned around and gave the audience their chance to get involved and question Shirky, asking ‘what is the future of local papers (answer: the new journalist, of course!) and ‘what kind of threat to Twitter and Facebook pose to traditional media’ (answer: they take away the ‘breaking news’ element that once solely belonged to the old guard).

It was an interesting discussion, particularly for a wanna-be journalist.

Note to self: data journalism is where it’s at.


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