Media & PR

Lessons for journalism from The Guardian’s great front page

White House Press Corps after being told of attack on Pearl Harbour. Photo via https://twitter.com/RealTimeWWII/status/409434681256321025/photo/1/large

Run, run, run! We must be first to get the news wrong.

Having repeatedly criticised one Guardian front page from the general election, now’s time to praise this week’s great front page – Patrick Wintour’s highly readable piece on what went wrong with Labour’s election campaign.

What’s notable about the difference between the two – the bad and the good – is that the bad was based on rushed reporting of polls, trying to be so up to date with the news as to miss a significant chunk of it, whilst the good was based on extensive reporting after the event explaining what had happened.

The latter is, of course, more expensive but also – crucially – it’s about explaining the news with the advantage of knowing how the full story turns out. It’s not as exciting waiting for events to finish before reporting what has happened, but it gives the great advantage of letting you see what really has happened.

Slow news trumps fast news if you want your news to be the full story and if you want accurate explanations. Otherwise it’s like lucky dip whether the story is right or wrong and whether the explanations are accurate or misleading. And if you’re not really after accuracy with the news, why not just stick to reading fiction?

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