When the Guardian re-launched in the Berliner format, I remember reading some great blog entries coming from within the cogs of the paper. It was interesting to see the process involved in managing something like a format change, and also to put a more human face to a newspaper that I read.
Most interesting was the debate over the Doonesbury cartoon. After a day of complaints about its removal, G2 editor Ian Katz issued a swift apology and the comic strip returned to the paper. It highlighted the way in which a good blog from a newspaper can be used to produce a better paper and improve reader interaction.
Once the fuss over the Berliner switch had died down, the blog ceased to be. Luckily, however, a new permanent blog was to be launched as part of the new (and brilliant) Comment is Free blog network. The Editors’ Blog (that’s plural — lots of editors, not just the editor) began with this opening statement:
Welcome to the editors’ blog. Note where the possessive apostrophe appears. This is not the voice of the editor. It is not the official voice of Guardian Newspapers Ltd. It is the blog of an inside observer, who will from time to time call on the editor and other editors of different sections of the paper to help explain to you how it works, how decisions are taken, who takes them. It’s about how the paper you receive in the morning, and the website you’re reading this on, are created.
It started fairly well. This entry tells us how the Film and Music supplement is created, others focus on editorial decisions within the main paper itself.
Sadly, despite a good start, the Editors’ Blog is now a rather pointless entity. This entry is from last Thursday:
Is there any basis for the rumours of a state of emergency being imposed in Pakistan by President Musharraf?
He failed to attend a meeting in Kabul yesterday designed to investigate peace moves on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border and faces a challenge in the courts today over the possible return from exile of the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, whom he deposed in 1999.
He faces two election battles early next year, one for the presidency — and he is constitutionally ineligible for a further term of office — and a parliamentary election.
And so on. At no point do we get to hear how the editor(s) came to their decisions about how to produce the coverage. This is, without being too harsh on the blogger, just a standard news blog that has very little real interest for anyone.
Back in that first post, Murray Armstrong wrote that the Editors’ Blog is not the voice of the editor, or Guardian Newspapers Ltd. So whose is it?
I’d very much like to see the Guardian Editor’s Blog resurrected soon. It would be a shame for a newspaper that prides itself on its transparency to waste an opportunity to keep us all in the loop.