January 30, 2012

You might remember last year that the Guardian tried publishing its story budgets online to invite feedback and tips from readers. Today the UK newspaper takes the next step toward a transparent, “open” newsroom with a daily live blog from the news desk.

Newsdesk Live is not another bloggy account of today’s top stories like Yahoo News’ The Upshot or The New York Times’ The Lede. Newsdesk Live includes the day’s story budget and conversational updates on what Guardian journalists are seeking and learning. The blog invites readers to contribute by posting comments, emailing or tweeting.

Newsdesk Live is a home for top news updates, newsroom process and reader engagement.

This is a noteworthy experiment in both form and function. Readers can quickly gauge the leading stories of the day, how they’re unfolding and what the public might contribute. The result is a pleasant mix of facts, analysis, process and discussion — an illustration of news as a process, not a product.

The format does have some complications. For example, during Monday’s live blogging of new university enrollment application figures for the UK, the writer had to make a “couple of corrections to the earlier post on this as we dig further into the figures.”

But I find it refreshing to read phrases like “I’ve just been reading over the shoulder of the datablog team…” as the editors share how they are learning what they report. One of Monday’s entries also describes when the editors hold their meetings, offering tips about how journalists (and readers) could manipulate the cycle:

As a reporter, the smart thing to do is to pitch ideas just in time for these meetings so they are fresh in the desk editors’ minds and, if it’s a slow day, they would be desperate for something to say. Readers who want to submit ideas, evidence and angles for our coverage might think of doing the same.

In a blog post introducing the new Newsdesk Live project, National Editor Dan Roberts quoted an appreciative commenter on the Guardian site:

The Guardian website comes across as a continuously evolving answer to a continuously evolving problem.

High praise, and a fine goal for any news organization now.

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Jeff Sonderman (jsonderman@poynter.org) is the Digital Media Fellow at The Poynter Institute. He focuses on innovations and strategies for mobile platforms and social media in…
Jeff Sonderman

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