News & Opinion

Katharine Viner on how collaboration can help ensure journalism is not expendable

In the Trump era, Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner says news organisations can collaborate to tell bigger, more powerful stories.

"If the media is to remind people why we exist in democracies, to hold the powerful to account and to do things that matter to civic society, often you can do that more powerfully together," Viner told The Thought Project podcast by The Graduate Center at City University of New York.

Speaking about The Guardian's recent Cambridge Analytica and Facebook exposé, Viner said that involving The New York Times and Channel 4 meant they "added wonderful reporting and it ended up being a much bigger story than it would have been if we'd have done it our own".

Although difficult to pull off, especially with big stories such as the Panama Papers, Viner praised collaborative projects saying she "really believes in [them]".

Referring to The Guardian's Daphne Project, a global consortium to continue the work of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was murdered for doing her job, Viner explained that collaboration is an important technique to show that journalists are not expendable: "There are always stories to be told and there are many formats to do that now... we've got to get back to real fact-based reporting; the most important thing is the story".

The Daphne Project, which includes 18 news organisations around the world, allows journalists to work on difficult investigations but also acts as a signal to the continued importance of journalism.

What's worrying, explained Viner, is that more and more, even democratically elected leaders no longer see journalism as essential to underpin democracy. "Trump described us as 'enemies of the people', which is very disturbing," she said.

Viner talked about the current political climate, saying there are "challenges on a global level" with Trump's election, Brexit, as well as climate change and what's happening to people on more personal level with austerity and mental health. "All the layers are coming together - there has been a dramatic shift," she explained.

The Guardian, she said, is "committed to the most serious journalism", which is a key factor in encouraging member contributions.

In April, Guardian News & Media (GNM) reported its financial results, confirming that the company is on track to break even this year. At the time, more than 800,000 people were contributing to The Guardian, up 200,000 in the past year.

Commenting on the results, Viner said: "Thanks to outstanding collaborative work in the UK, US and Australia, we have finished the second year well ahead of our forecast."

Listen to the full podcast here.

by Liz Jaques 07/06/18

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