Dealing with a fully integrated Guardian

Last month all 850 staff at the Guardian News & Media group upped sticks from their Farr­ingdon base and moved to new London offices just by King's Cross station.

State of the art: The Guardian's recording facilities
State of the art: The Guardian's recording facilities

The Guardian moved into the Kings Place building, not for easy access to the complex’s concert hall and art galleries, but in response to the changing pace and style of news reporting, say bosses.

Newspapers today are expe­c­ted to break news online and create video and audio content to supplement the paper edition, so the new offices are fitted out with a 24-hour news desk and seven rec­ording studios.

But The Guardian is already known for being ahead of the multimedia curve. Last year it became the first paper to win a Royal Television Society award for best international news, for a film on Iraq made in conjunction with Channel 4 News/ITN.

Bringing The Guardian, The Observer and website staff tog­ether in one location has changed the editorial output, says Paul Johnson, deputy editor at Guardian News & Media: ‘We went from amiable co-operation to full-blown integration.’

The group is now divided into specialist areas and each dep­artment head works across The Guardian, The Observer and the website, with section editors also working at each individual publication.

Bosses say the new structure allows for quicker decision-making and publication. It is also now easier for PR professionals to decide which journalists to target. Johnson advises PROs to think carefully about the best home for a story rather than to simply call the news desk, which ‘drowns under enquiries’. PROs should consider whether a story is more appropriate for The Obs­erver, The Guardian or the site, and then decide under which subject category it falls.

Matt Bourn, managing director of media specialist agency Braben, said it is crucial to get to know the editorial team when pitching stories. ‘Treat the journalists individually and know whether they are freelance or staff,’ he says.

Johnson is keen to stress that The Guardian, famed for its liberal outlook, is interested in a broad range of news and has a growing business and international appeal. ‘The other papers are always saying we have a bias towards teachers and soc­ial workers,’ he says. ‘We are interested in them, but this is not a news organisation for teachers and social workers.’

The Guardian’s Media section is certainly a must-read for anyone in the industry, but the paper is probably best known for its coverage of environmental, human rights and social issues. Kevin Read, managing director of Bell Pottinger, business and brands, says whenever he has a story for The Guardian he bears in mind its left-of-centre readership and tendency to take an ‘underdog/ fairer society perspective’.

 

A minute with... Paul Johnson, deputy editor, The Guardian

Who reads The Guardian today?

We write for an educated audience (most of our readers have been educated until at least 21) who have an eclectic interest in news affairs. Our readers are interested in a broad spread of news including business, economics, international affairs and sport.

How is The Guardian different from its rival newspapers?

We don’t have any shareholders, so the profits of the business are ploughed back into the company. We can aspire to become the world’s leading liberal voice without someone saying we are using an incorrect economic model.

Does The Guardian have a good relationship with PR professionals?

A good reporter and a good PR person will have a reasonable relationship because each side understands the other’s position.

What’s the best strategy for pitching stories?

Most people know the message they want to get across. If they’ve thought about how it might translate for us, that’s the right approach.

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