Editor Alan Rusbridger starts this interesting article by summarizing the recent censorship incident in the UK, and how Guardian readers helped the newspaper circumvent it:
“Recently, I was confronted with a legal obstacle that—possibly for the first time since we were founded in 1821—prevented The Guardian from reporting something that had happened in Parliament. We wrote a bafflingly cryptic front-page piece and I left the office feeling pretty fed up. But before sitting down to eat, I borrowed the restaurant’s computer to Tweet the fact of our gagging order. By the time I got home that evening Twitter had gone into meltdown. Several diligent tweeters had discovered the banned information and had published it. By morning, the news of the injunction and the corporation behind it—a hitherto obscure London-based trading company called Trafigura—was familiar to millions of Twitterers throughout Europe. “Trafigura,” which had gone to law in search of anonymity—had become the most searched for term in the Twittersphere. By lunchtime their lawyers had thrown in the towel.”
Alan then uses the concept of mutualization of news, and wonders in the rest of the article,whether a similar mutualization of newspaper funding would be possible.
“It was the latest example of what I think of as the mutualization of a newspaper. Our readers have become part of what we do. They write commentaries for our Comment is Free site—they have helped with investigations into tax avoidance and police brutality. They form communities around individual reporters and issues, lending a hand with research and ideas, bringing us up short when we get things wrong. They have collaborated on big projects needing resources beyond our scope. We have done things that would have been impossible without them. In return we give them a more diverse form of journalism and the visibility that comes from a platform that reaches some 30 million unique users a month—two thirds of them outside the U.K.”
More about the funding issue here.