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Guardian tech editor Victor Keegan just got back from Telford, home of the industrial revolution, which makes a tidy introduction for his thoughts on The Guardian’s online community. He reckons Technorati’s figure of 45 million active blogs is inflated and not as significant (in revolutionary terms, presumably) as the adoption of mobile phones, which just reached 2 billion worldwide.
“We have thought of ourselves all along as a community,” he said. “We have a strong core readership that stays with us.” He said taking the web and paper together, the Guardian has never been as successful as it now. Two thirds of its 13 million plus monthly unique users are outside the UK although he feels the paper hasn’t exploited the brand in the US particularly: “it just kind of happened”. He said the Guardian’s trust status means it could think more long-term about the possibilities of the web. “The web site wasn’t expected to make a profit in the short term. It is making a profit now and maybe it shouldn’t be – maybe they should be ploughing it back.”
– Keegan managed to slip in the obligatory snipe at the phrase ‘user-generated content’ (who did come up with that?): “I’m not a user, I’m a person. I’m not generating content, I’m creating.” He said the proliferation of sites from Lulu to iStockphoto to YouTube shows an underlying surge of creativity, part of this wave of consumers becoming producers.
– There were rumbles of discontent recently by journalists invited to contribute to Comment is Free, well, for free. Keegan said he’s quite happy with that because if he wrote for his own blog, only about ten people would read it.
– He’s probably not alone in hoping that MediaGuardian scraps registration soon (he can’t remember his password).
– Keegan said the Guardian is quite likely to move into video blogging down the road. “Now we’ve launched the Berliner there’s a much greater concentration on what we do next.” He quoted Rocketboom’s reported $85,000 revenue per week as a fairly juicy incentive. “I don’t think people will wade through 25 videos instead of reading the paper, but it’s a very direct way of getting at people and has a certain authority to it.”
The Guardian now doesn’t hold stories for the paper, so the city and foreign desks are now writing for the web first. That hasn’t impaired the quality of the coverage, said Keegan. Getting feedback from bloggers can add information and authority to the later version of the story that appears in the paper.
Well yes, but it’s quite remarkable that stories were still being held over the paper version anyway. Did anyone else assume that practice had been ditched ages ago?
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.