The Guardian is no longer a UK national newspaper, said Simon Waldman – recently promoted to director of digital strategy for the Guardian Media Group. “Media organizations are traditionally based on their brand, their talent and their mode of distribution,” he said in an interview with paidContent.org UK correspondent Jemima Kiss. “With digital we are no longer defined by our mode of distribution.”
The Guardian is read by as nearly as many people online each day as it is in print and by as many people abroad as it is in the UK – and though the print newspaper is important, it’s just one part of what the Guardian does, said Waldman. “It could be audio, video; it could be in the US, UK, Australia or Japan; it could be continuous, once a day, twice a day, once a week, something you dip into through RSS feeds rather than something you see as a whole…”
Rather than seeing this period of transition as a threat, he said that from the outset the Guardian embraced the web as an opportunity and believes there is still huge value in newspapers as brands. He’s now applying that thinking to his new role leading digital strategy across GMG’s media properties – including a fleet of regional newspapers struggling with typical downturns in turnover and advertising revenue.
And with other UK newspaper sites fast catching up with GU, how will the site keep its edge? Through innovation and investment, said Waldman.
Despite the techie jargon and the digital directorship, Waldman is clearly a newspaper guy at heart because he believes that newspaper brands have a critical social function – whatever the medium.
“There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about what we do and the role the paper plays in society. There is significant value in traditional brands for those prepared to be bold with them. That transformation will involve organisational and structural change to some of our revenue streams. But that’s the big project.”
Read the full interview.
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This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.