Monday 10 October 2011

Guardian plans to share its newslist with readers

The Guardian is launching a daily blog which will open up something most newspapers guard with the utmost secrecy - its newslist.

It also plans to give details of what stories reporters and editors are covering and how readers can get in touch with them via Twitter if they think they can help add information.

national news editor Dan Roberts, writing on, says: "The idea of giving this information away before publication might seem to be putting digital dogma before common sense. Just because the internet theoretically allows journalists to give readers a peek behind the curtain by sharing the list with them does not make it a good idea.

"We suspect otherwise though at the Guardian. What if readers were able to help newsdesks work out which stories were worth investing precious reporting resources in? What if all those experts who delight in telling us what's wrong with our stories after they've been published could be enlisted into giving us more clues beforehand? What if the process of working out what to investigate actually becomes part of the news itself?

"It might seem a minority pursuit, but the experience of covering breaking news already suggests otherwise. Like many websites, we are discovering some of our best-read stories are the live blogs that report events as they unfold, often with brutal honesty about what we don't know or hope to find out.

"With this in mind, the newsdesk at the Guardian is planning an experiment in opening its doors. The idea is to publish a carefully-selected portion of the national, international and business newslists on a daily blog, which will launch on Monday morning, and encourage people to get in touch with reporters and editors via Twitter if they have ideas."

He adds: "Obviously, we're not planning to list all our exclusives or embargoed content and we'll also have to be careful not to say anything legally sensitive or unsubstantiated. Nonetheless, we think there are lots of routine things that we list every day which might provoke interesting responses from readers: everything from upcoming press conferences, to stories we need help uncovering. If readers can see that we've got a reporter looking into the police killing of someone with a Taser – to use a recent example – they might be able to direct us to other recent deaths or the definitive report on their safety risks.

"It's a bit of a leap in the dark, we know, so we've decided to structure it as a short trial starting this week and we are ready to pull the plug if we suspect we're giving away too much competitive advantage or falling on deaf ears. What we won't do is give up our right to exercise our own judgment about which stories are important, or pay much attention to pestering from PR people, but we do think it is worth listening to our readers.

UPDATE: You can now see the newslist.

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