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Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  284 ratings  ·  49 reviews
An urgent account of the revolution that has upended the news business, written by one of the most accomplished journalists of our time

Technology has radically altered the news landscape. Once-powerful newspapers have lost their clout or been purchased by owners with particular agendas. Algorithms select which stories we see. The Internet allows consequential revelations,
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published November 27th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published September 6th 2018)
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I picked this up off the library display shelves and was very glad I did! It was like being invited by an old-school pressman for an extended lunch at his club off Fleet street.

Indeed, Alan Rusbridger uses a personable tone, bringing you into the world of newspaper life of the last 30 years, especially focusing on his experiences with the wild ride through his time as editor of the Guardian. This period from the mid 1990s to 2015, saw the greatest upheavals of the digital age upon newspaper
History, memoir, and treatise on the problematic and uncertain future of journalism, this book is engaging, well-written and quite possibly essential reading. Sometimes these competing narratives are at cross purposes, sometimes they allow for striking and nuanced observation. This book explores not only the shifts within journalism itself, but our changing society and it’s interaction with news, facts and truth. Does it have the answers? Not at all, but it does offer a foundation from which ...more
Vasil Kolev
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting insight into the Guardian (which seems to be one of the few remaining usable newspapers), their transition to a "digital" (online) publication and how they managed it without killing the paper, and journalism in general. This should be one of the books anyone interested in media should read.
(and the parts about Wikileaks and Snowden are a good introduction to the matter, for anyone who had lived in a cave in the last 10-15 years :) )

It's not as comprehensive as I would've liked
Oonagh Smyth
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating read for three reasons:
- the insight behind the scenes into some modern media scoops like the Snowden papers
- it’s a real life strategic case study of an industry having to respond to fundamental changes which threaten its very existence
- it reminds me about the importance of an objective, free and values based media which seems increasingly rare
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, memoir
This may be the most important book I have read in the last ten years. Alan Rusbridger was editor in chief of The Guardian from 1995 to 2015, during a time of incredible social and technological change. Following the outlines of that change in the world of the newspaper is a way of understanding how radically we have all changed in our social, physical, mental, and spiritual lives.
Ian Rose
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important books on one of the most important topics of our time. We all have opinions on the state of news and information, but this is a vital record of how we got where we are and, if not a solution, a ray of hope for how facts survive the churn. Not a quick read but worth it.
May 28, 2019 added it
Rusbridger relates the roller coaster ride it was as editor of the Guardian from 1995 till 2015. He took control of the paper at the advent of the internet and the struggle to keep up with technological change never ends. It's a stressful time for all newspapers as advertising revenue dries up and traditional readers of news move elsewhere. Slowly but surely Rusbridger pulls the Guardian into the 21st century- a website is built and financed, live blogging is experimented with and readers' ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“To be a journalist in these times was bliss-for us, anyway. I’m afraid we felt a bit superior to those without the same access to information that we enjoyed. It was easy to confuse our privileged access to information with ‘authority’ or ‘expertise’. And when the floodgates opened-and billions of people also gained access to information and could publish themselves-journalism struggled to adjust.”

So says Rusbridger in the introduction to this book, expressing his fears and doubts in a rather
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book but also felt that it could have benefitted from Rusbridger turning more of a critical eye to his own paper (in the same way that he does for rival publications). Having said that, it does a great job of capturing the anxiety that many journalists felt as the industry shifted to a digital-first model. I could see a few sections -- such as the parts about newsroom management or analytics -- being a bit dry for some readers (particularly those who aren't in the ...more
Claudia Hoffmann
Fascinating Book About the Guardian Newspaper

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian from 1995-2015, has written an important book about publishing one of the most highly esteemed newspapers in the English speaking world. The challenges of establishing the newspaper online, the demise of advertising revenue, and the challenges of a newspaper disclosing corruption and Edward Snowden’s
Copies of The U.S. National Security Agency documents are all described in detail. Mr Rusbridger is an excellent
Rishabh Srivastava
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal book by Guardian’s editor of 20 years. Offers a raw look at the industry — with all its glory, warts, potential for impact, and internal politics. The author also does a phenomenal job at underplaying his own achievements, and telling the story as dispassionately as one might reasonably expect from one so involved in it.

Highly recommended for anyone in the media industry.
I have been raised as a Guardian person, and I adore the Guardian—enough that I donate to them (not much cause I’m skint) every month, and many of my favourite journalists work at the guardian, and I appreciate their content so much and their app is great and yadayadayada. I have mostly been paying attention to the Guardian since Katherine Viner was editor though, but I thought that this would be interesting.

I was just aware enough of the news (thanks to the Guardian weekly haha) at the time of
I've been spontaneously mentioning how much I love this book for days.

The author is a British journalist who eventually became the editor of The Guardian. The author writes about becoming a journalist at a local paper covering neighborhood meetings and local soccer clubs then moving through his career until he's editing The Guardian newspaper. He talks about the changes to the mechanics of journalism during that time - going from unions and moving to computers to changing business models and
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a good read if you are interested in the story told by the newspapermen - those who remain of a kind who, in all honesty, represent a blip in the longer history of capitalism and democracy, anyway. Rusbridger's account is iconic and unique in many ways: not only is the Guardian perhaps the most successful left-leaning news institution in the contemporary Anglophone world, but his stewardship bridged the transformation where papers became pages and stories became facts, evidence, and ...more
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book. I hope that more people will read it, as it raises important issues that affect us all.

Alan Rusbridger should go down in history as one of the great newspaper editors. He took the Guardian through a period of unprecedented and unexpected changed and passed it on to his successor in remarkably good shape.

He fought several vital battles that could have destroyed his career and the paper, as well as weakening press freedom, and he won them. Jonathan Aitken MP tried to destroy
Geoffrey Kelley
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book about the enormous challenges facing newspapers and journalism today. Alan Rusbridger was editor of the Guardian for twenty years ( 1995-2015) and he describes these tumultuous years, particularly the technological revolution that altered his industry. The digital wave swept away the traditional model of a newspaper, where journalists toiled all day to put an edition
“ to bed” in the evening, so that a newspaper could arrive on our doorstep in the morning. But first the
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was a bit sobering reading this right after hearing the announcements of sweeping layoffs in many major news outlets.

Breaking News is equal parts information and memoir. At times it's rather dense. But it's important. Certainly a must-read for aspiring journalists, but arguably also for anyone who has never stopped to question how they are informed about the world.

Having spent almost 20 years as editor-in-chief of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger has a lot of first-hand experience with the
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Joining the staff of The Guardian during the late 1970s, Rusbridger became the editor in 1995 before stepping down in 2015 after elevating The Guardian from being the ninth-largest newspaper in the UK to one of the leading global journalistic enterprises. Founded in 1821 by a trust, The Guardian adhered to principles that safeguarded journalistic integrity during times when the newspaper industry was becoming increasingly obsolete and unprofitable. Rusbridger’s book is more than just a document ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, I’ve done it again: spent the first half of the year reading a single, long book. (Last year, I’m pretty sure it was “American Gods.”) Bummer, of course, because it points out how slowly I read and how little time I devote to reading. But the silver lining is, I’ve spent these books reading books that keep me coming back, no matter how long it takes me.

“Breaking News” definitely kept me coming back. It’s a sweeping look at the massive change that has enveloped journalism over the past 40
Ven Benables
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it

He could have bloated this memoir with childhood recollections but instead we meet Rusbridger as a local news reporter just before he goes to the Guardian in 1979. And even then he shorthands his career until he becomes editor in 1995.

Proud of his record but rarely defensive, the book is about journalism more than it is Alan Rusbridger. He just happens to have been making decisions during several revolutions in print. He seems to approach each fork with a mind divided. Always open to change,
Lawrence White
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A thorough, wide-ranging and thoughtful argument for the value of journalism and its struggles to remake its business model in the digital age. The best sections like the backstory behind Nick Davies's investigation into phone hacking combine behind-the-scenes drama with thoughts about the implications for the industry. Conversely large tracts of the book devolve into essays about big picture issues with only meagre sprinkles of anecdote and example. It's a deeply serious and useful book but for ...more
Pearse Anderson
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, audiobook
Not exactly the book that was promised, but this was a great read about quality journalism from a quality journalist and editor. Rusbridger has heart, wit, and a good ethical compass, and this audiobook gets a lot of these points across by simply the way they're read, especially the way the narrator powers through hard sections he was told to avoid. The Guardian had a steep climb up and the rewards by the tenth hour of the audiobook was really nice—we saw them win! I mean, they were an underdog ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
While a bit into the weeds at times, I felt, with regard to advertising costs - and not nearly critical enough of his own newspaper at all - I still found this a fascinating look at a large internationally recognized newspaper and how it grew in the age of digital media. Since The Guardian was also one of the paper who broke the News of the World phone-hacking scandal and was trusted with Snowden, I found those chapters particularly fascinating. This is a book I'd recommend to those with an ...more
Anish Morakhia
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book tracks the transition of newspapers from print to digital and how the author (the former editor of the Guardian) navigated this transition. In the process, he also sheds light on how this has resulted in the commercialization of news in an environment of increasing economic hardship for newspapers, the democratization of news and the proliferation of fake news due to social media and the difficult choices for newspapers in cases like WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden, where refusal to ...more
Colleen Thomas
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having worked as a journalist through much of the time period covered by this book, I found it a fascinating ride. Rusbridger's concern for both the craft of journalism and its place in a digital world resonated with me. As news gathering and consumption in both the U.K. and the U.S. shifts from a vertical, top-down method to a horizontal, "everybody's a journalist" model, what is being gained? What is lost? What will be the result? While the author doesn't have all the answers, his insider's ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
An informative history of the changes in the newspaper business in the last 50 years. When Alan Rusbridger started his career as a journalist nothing had changed for years, and then everything changed. A detailed look at the disruption in journalism through the last few decades. Including the world-changing stories or Julian Assange, Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, phone hacking, Cambridge Analytics and so much more. An entertaining and enlightening look at the news, how it is produced, who decides ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Anyone who cares about journalism and the future of news must read this book. The author explains the importance of free press through his own experience of heading an iconic newspaper at the most fascinating time in the industry. This topic has never been more relevant that in the current times when traditional media is being undermined as ‘fake news’ and young journalists are being trapped in a system of ‘churnalism’.
Anthony Eales
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An insightful look into newspapers in the age of digital disruption from the perspective of the editor of The Guardian for 20 years who was there since practically the beginning of the world wide web. Very fascinating. I read this at a blistering pace because it was all just so interesting. Particularly of interest to news junkies. I mostly listened to the audiobook on Audible which was very well read.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rusbridger's work is important to anyone interested in strategy or facilitating absolute change (of product, services, brand, identity, professional calling) into an unknown future. Rusbridger has sage advice and provides thought-provoking ideas about journalism. These ideas however find purchase in post-secondary education, climate change and service industries. It's long. But worth it.
NC Stone
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an extremely important story for our American democracy and Rusbridger covers the main points very well.
I didn't agree with him completely on all his conclusions but he generally states the history and current situation very well. Journalism is on life support and it must be revived or we'll lose our republic.
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“Power needs witnesses. Witnesses need to be able to speak freely to an audience. The truth can only follow on from agreed facts. Facts can only be agreed if they can be openly articulated, tested ... and contested. That process of statement and challenge helps something like the truth to emerge. From truth can come progress. In the absence of this daylight, bad things will most certainly happen. The acts of bearing witness and establishing facts can lead to positive reform.” 0 likes
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