One thing that Snowden has taught us journalists is that it’s essential to be paranoid

One thing that Snowden has taught us journalists is that it’s essential to be paranoid

Amy Chozick from the New York Times recently conducted an interview with the Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger. It’s a fantastic window into the mindset of one of the most forward thinking editors in world media.


Chozick: You’ve said you want to make The Guardian a platform as well as a publisher. Is this an effort to tap into that? 

Rusbridger: Absolutely. For years, news organizations had a quasi monopoly on information simply because we had the means of distribution. I think if as a journalist you are not intensely curious about what has been created by people who are not journalists, then you’re missing out on a lot.

But you also have to maintain The Guardian’s credibility.
Yes, obviously. But as long as the reader can see for themselves which writer is ours and which is not, then I think it’s fine. Glenn Greenwald is an interesting voice. He is not a Guardian reporter, but what he writes is interesting. If we hadn’t have hired him, we wouldn’t have gotten Edward Snowden. Small things lead to big things.

Were you surprised at how critical some American journalists were of Greenwald?
It’s a story that polarizes people. But I think there was a strand of American reaction to him that said, You’re not a proper journalist, you are just a blogger. I think that misses the point. He got the biggest story of the year, if not the decade.

In the Guardian reporter Luke Harding’s book about the Snowden files, he says American journalists are too deferential to government sources. Do you agree?
I think America has some of the best newspapers and journalists in the world. I don’t think Britain is in any position to lecture the rest of the world on that.

He wrote in The Guardian that words were disappearing from his screen as he was writing about the N.S.A. Has anything like that happened to you?
Odd things have happened, but the trouble is, you sound paranoid if you talk about them. We have assumed that a number of people might be trying to monitor what we’ve been doing, so we’ve done our best to take precautions. One thing that Snowden has taught us journalists is that it’s essential to be paranoid.

During a parliamentary hearing on the Snowden leaks, you were asked if you love your country.
I wasn’t expecting that. I believe you can love your country precisely because it is the sort of democracy that allows newspapers to write this kind of thing. And I would love my country less if it were the sort of country that destroyed journalistic material or locked up journalists or used the law in a heavy-handed way.

Source: New York Times