How did you join the Guardian?
I spent 11 years covering politics in the lobby for local and national papers, then quit working when our youngest daughter was diagnosed with autism. When I was ready to come back, The Guardian was advertising a political correspondent online. Like all rational journalists, I have always wanted to work for The Guardian, but it was around the time that political blogging was starting to emerge, and I also started to think that the Internet provides opportunities to cover politics in better ways. I have been hired.
When I joined, the sport was using live blogging regularly but in the news it was relatively rare and it was never the main vehicle for covering a political event on the site. I started using it a lot, got longer and more detailed, and our editors and readers were enthusiastic. A major breakthrough came with the Iraq investigation in late 2009, when the website led us with an inquiry blog, rather than a traditional news story, for days on end. I remember it as the moment when editors became comfortable with the idea of anchoring web coverage around a blog. In 2010 she created a daily general election blog and after the elections she continued working on behalf of Politics Live.
Can you describe your daily routine?
I work in the Guardian’s office in the House of Commons and start around eight in the morning. Sometimes I go to media briefings, or take my laptop to events that aren’t broadcast on TV, but mostly in my office I watch events in Parliament and elsewhere on TV, but I also follow what’s happening via news wires, email, Twitter WhatsApp, etc. It is a mixed job; Partial reporting, but also editorial to a large extent.
How does blogging compare to traditional political reporting?
Although it’s relentless (the live blog doesn’t work if I head out for a long lunch with a contact), I find it more rewarding. As a reporter, I often end the day with the feeling that I learned 20 interesting things, only about four or five of them that I could get into the newspaper. Often the chat in the office was more exciting than what we were posting. This was not due to a plot to hide the information. That is the case, unless you can convert the information into a strict format for a news story, you will not be able to take it into the public domain.
Writing a blog, this is not a problem. Partly because space is unlimited. But it’s mostly about having more elbow room as a press. Without being bound by the conventions of writing a news story, there is greater opportunity for comment and analysis; To cover not just what is happening, but what it means and why it is important. Now I never go home feeling like I haven’t had a chance to share what I know.
What is the impact of Brexit and the Conservative leadership contest on the blog?
They generated an increase in interest. I’ve been writing the live blog for nearly 10 years and it hasn’t had such a large readership before: more than a million times a day on average in the first quarter of the year, when the Brexit crisis was severe. It’s less now, but a blog is always one of the five most-read articles on a website on any given day, and often the best-read.
You need three things for a live blog to function: what I call “news now” (meaning news that you want to read immediately, not at breakfast tomorrow); A story that is constantly changing. And a story people want to read at length. Brexit ticks all of these boxes.
Do you worry that you do not have the time to properly analyze what is happening?
little bit. If you have six hours to reflect on a politician’s speech, you will produce a more thoughtful viewpoint than you can in 20-30 minutes (my timeframe – I write a lot of “quick judgments”). But instant news is in great demand, and if we don’t meet it, someone else will. There is the famous nineteenth century The Century Times editorial says that the first duty of the press is to obtain “the closest and most accurate intelligence on the events of that time” and, by disclosing it, make it “the common property of the nation.” Still standing. It’s just that the “older” is faster than it was before. I also think that the assumption “fast news must be flawed” is wrong: sometimes the fastest operations are the most severe.
What do your readers contribute to your blog?
More than they probably realize. My blog regularly attracts 10,000 or more comments per day. I can’t read them all, but I have read some and try to answer anyone who asks me a direct question (by searching for the word “Andrew”).
I don’t think I would give up any trade secrets if I say that not all journalists are welcome when they are told they are at fault. Who does? But the live blog format makes it possible to establish a very constructive relationship with your readers. Once the reporter provides a story, it’s over, and any negative feedback is a complaint. But my blog is open for eight or more hours a day, and when people point to errors, or challenge my judgment, there is ample time to respond.
In my book, no mistake is so simple that it cannot be corrected (if you care about correcting the little things, you are more likely to get the big things right as well) and if people doubt my analysis or my language, as long as they are not offensive, I am happy to look at their point of view. . Over time I realized this scrutiny makes me a much better correspondent. I spend around 20 minutes a day reading and responding to reviews and that’s part of my routine that I always find light on.