The Guardian’s recent advertisement promoting open journalism is brilliant, while still leaving me asking “what the what was that actually about?” First thing’s first, let’s define open journalism. This is actually harder than you’d think because lately just about everything is “open” – open news, open media, open source journalism. The idea is essentially that because the majority of people now get their news online people who are not trained as journalists play a larger role in reporting the news, discussing events, and revealing truth and details in stories. Now you need to see the advertisement. So here you go:
Obviously, I understand what they are doing. They are taking a well known and beloved story, one the is very approachable and showing how it would be covered if it happened as an actual news event today. This is brilliant because it pulls elements of how current events like the uprisings in Egypt, Lybia, and Syria or Occupy Wall Street broke in the media and injects them into a story everyone is so familiar with. It is totally amusing to see a fresh take on this classic tale, but also to see the power shift in how a story is told from a writer crafting a tale to the public changing the ending.
I like the ad, a lot. I think it very effectively promotes the idea that the public can play a huge role in how stories are covered online and in the media. However, having watched it multiple times now I can honestly say I don’t know any more about open journalism at The Guardian. How does The Guardian encourage open journalism, what do they do with it, what kind of access will the public have, etc.? I don’t know, the ad doesn’t say anything about The Guardian’s actual policies.
Is the ad effective? It will certainly get the public’s attention. It will get people talking about open journalism. It will get people talking about The Guardian. While it does show people changing the tide of the story, it doesn’t explain open journalism for people who aren’t already familiar with it. It doesn’t tell you anything about how The Guardian intends to embrace open journalism either. Still, I think that the ad is intended to wow, and in that way it succeeds.
I’d like to see The Guardian follow this ad up with more information about open journalism and what they intend to do with it. But as it stands, the ad is a good example of how to get through to people, how to move people, and how to promote something in a way that will both delight people and leave them thinking.