Last Thursday, the Guardian announced they will be opening their doors in a few weeks time, hosting a range of talks, workshops and interactive sessions on everything from sport to culture, comedy and politics. Understandably, this is stimulating a variety of responses.
With over 200 separate events taking place across the weekend, there is sure to be something for everyone, though obviously it will attract a great number of journalists too.
Despite the steep price tag of £60 for the whole weekend, it’s an interesting and innovative idea for the Guardian to stimulate interest from a range of interest groups and age ranges.
We all know that newspapers are declining in circulation as fewer people are willing to pay for news. At first glance, this open event could appear to look like a pure money-making scheme with little substance to fill this funding gap, but the idea behind it opens up far more doors than that.
A newspaper that is almost 200 years old, the Guardian’s print readership is suffering more than ever before. Yet, in digital and online media, it is at the forefront of the revolution. The world of news is going through an incredible transformation, and the Guardian appears to be embracing that. The past few years have seen increasing hits on its website, the launch of its iPad app, and exclusive online content.
This weekend is not just a journalism conference to attract writers from across the field, it’s an innovative display to make the Guardian come alive. Newspapers are no longer able to market themselves as simply a source of news, they have to become more than that, which is exactly what this weekend appears to be trying to demonstrate. Through a variety of content and tailored for a wide audience, this is an attempt to open the Guardian up to a new, exciting audience, and to change the way they think about newspapers.
By marketing it as a ‘festival’ experience, the Guardian appear to be breaking the bubble of a ‘newspaper’ as just for news; something that you pick up along with some milk at the corner shop, or flick through in Costa. To me at least, it seems an attempt to completely redefine the boundaries of what a newspaper is, and how people can engage with it on a multitude of different platforms.
Not least, the open weekend will be a valuable weekend to anyone with career aspirations in journalism. The ability to wander around the Guardian buildings, hassle the journalists, see how everything is edited and put together is usually pretty limited without harassing the news desk for work experience. Aside from a cultural fun weekend of activities and talks, the Guardian’s Open Weekend is set to be a valuable insight into the changing world of journalism; surely an event not to be missed for the wannabe journos, if us poor students can scrape together £60.