The Guardian, one of the world’s premier news organizations, is often at the forefront of positive media trends. They’ve taken it to a new level yet again by opening the news budgeting process to readers. They admit that they’re not the first to try it, but, in my mind, they’re the first publication of their size and scope to try it.
To be fair, it’s not the entire budgeting process. They’re giving readers a live look at their newslist, a breakdown of the currently assigned stories and who is assigned to write them:
I like the idea of opening up the news-selection process to readers. Hopefully it will rip away some of the mystery and incorrect assumptions about how news stories are selected. The people out there who are convinced that stories are selected after a call from the local political powerhouse are going to be rather disappointed.
I also like the approach the Guardian and its editors are taking:
What if readers were able to help newsdesks work out which stories were worth investing precious reporting resources in? What if all those experts who delight in telling us what’s wrong with our stories after they’ve been published could be enlisted into giving us more clues beforehand? What if the process of working out what to investigate actually becomes part of the news itself?
The paper says it won’t list embargoed stories here, and will still protect its exclusives. Good; it should. But the point is to get readers to contact writers directly to help them understand stories they’re getting in to, or to clue them in to something they’ve missed after the story is published.
The Guardian says the experiment is just that – experimental – and could be pulled at any time if they don’t like where it’s going or some sort of unforeseen problem creeps up. In the meantime, though, the idea shows that some papers are taking the idea of innovation seriously. The idea could be a flop, or could be a total success, but that’s beside the point. The fact that they’re willing to try things like this – probably considered radical in many newsrooms around the world – gives a lot of other organizations something to look up to.