As Director-General, Mark Thompson led the BBC for 8 years, and is now CEO of the New York Times. In this in-depth interview, he reflects in detail on his career, and the BBC’s challenges both past and present; reveals the demands on a Brit leading an iconic American newspaper, while keeping it relevant and profitable in the digital age; and makes the case that the language of modern politics – dominated with ‘truthiness’, ‘authenticism’ and the derision of expertise – is now at odds with the public good.
“It’s superb. Heard it tonight. Best yet, amid stiff competition” – Amol Rajan
Content produced and sponsored by Media Masters
MediaGuardian were scooped to the departure of their own paper’s deputy editor by Politico on Friday. Seen as the heir apparent to Alan Rusbridger for the editorship, Janine Gibson was overlooked and is now off. Rusbridger finally gets round to emailing staff:
Sorry that we got scooped on this, but no-one was really anticipating rival breaking news late on the Friday of a bank holiday.
Janine Gibson has, after much thought, decided to move on from the Guardian.
As most of you know, Janine’s been with us for 17 years, after joining as a refugee from the Independent. As media editor she launched the MediaGuardian website and was then appointed G3 editor before becoming editor of the Guardian website in 2008 and then a deputy editor.
Janine launched Guardian US in 2011, at a time when we had not quite found our feet or purpose in the States. She had a clear sense of where the Guardian should be going and what it should be in America. Guardian US began with 6 employees and 7m users, and grew in 3 years to 50+ staff and tripled its audience. And, of course, she edited the Snowden story out of New York in a way that was assured, well-judged and brave. The Snowden story probably won more awards than any story since Watergate – and much of that was down to Janine’s sure touch.
That record – plus her digital instincts – made Janine a high profile figure in US journalism, and it was no surprise when the NYT tried to poach her to be their deputy editor early last year. At that point we managed to keep her, with the (thankless!) task of returning to London to help reorganise desks and production as well as edit the digital site.
She’s been a brilliantly talented and lovely colleague, and we wish her so well in whatever she does next.
Gibson’s leaving will once again fuel speculation that the New York Times’ board is considering setting up a London operation as revenge for the Guardian attempting to muscle in on their turf stateside. Janine ran Guardian US until last year and will have impressed editing the Snowden story. The news got a suspiciously kind write up in the NYT over the weekend…
Peter Preston points out that the recent announcement from Times Newspapers Limited (London) that 51% of revenue was coming from print and digital sales seemed to boast how digital subscriptions were soaring; “it may equally have been demonstrating how far ad revenue had slumped”. This is why Buzzfeed is valued at more than The Times…
Ed Snowden has been demonised by some on the right as a “traitor“. Those on the right don’t as a rule put their trust in governments and Snowden is a patriotic, freedom loving libertarian, not a Russian or Chinese dupe, as some conservatives seem to believe. (He even donated $250 to Ron Paul’s election campaign.) His motivation was ideological and principled – it has cost him his personal freedom and his career. People who Guido would normally expect to side with the cause of liberty have focused on the medium not the message – because it was Alan Rusbridger’s Guardian that broke the story they have got their backs up. Whatever right-minded people think of the Guardian, it was disgraceful to hear Rusbridger’s patriotism questioned by a Select Committee over him publishing the Snowden story.
Ed Snowden was as the New York Times argued yesterday clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on the blanket intelligence-gathering was to “expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work“, revealing what his bosses covered-up and lied to Congress about. Beyond the mass collection of phone and internet data Snowden revealed:
When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government. Rick Ledgett, who leads the NSA’s task force on the Snowden leaks, told CBS News that he would consider amnesty if Snowden halted any additional leaks. President Obama should do just that, bring Snowden home. He is a hero.
Hat-tip: New York Times