Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | July 07, 2003

Guardian UK to launch US edition

Rupert Murdoch's arrival from Australia launched a new era in US journalism -- one of right-wing partisanship masquarading as "fair and balanced" coverage. Fox News (and its print cousins) grew in stature as it attracted those, rightly or wrongly, turned off by the "liberal media", and the rest of the SCLM has consequently tripped all over itself to skew Right.

The result is a complacent journalistic environment giving one of the most reactionary adminstration in our history a free pass as it LIES to get its war on and make life just a little bit easier for those in High Places (at the expense of everyone else).

Which is why I reacted with glee when I heard that the Guardian -- the UK's bastion of independent, hard-hitting, and left-skewing journalism -- is now headed to these shores.

... Rusbridger took me across the street to his office and showed me the prototype for the new American Guardian. Its tentative form is as a weekly magazine, quite unlike any other weekly magazine that has been started in the U.S. in the past generation. Not only is it about politics (Rusbridger is looking to launch in the winter to cover the presidential-primary season), but the magazine—meant to be 60 percent derived from the Guardian itself, with the rest to come from American contributors—has a great deal of text unbroken by design elements. This is almost an extreme notion. Quite the antithesis of what virtually every publishing professional would tell you is the key to popular and profitable publishing—having less to read, not more. Even with the Guardian’s signature sans-serif face, it looks like an old-fashioned magazine. Polemical. Written. Excessive. Contentious. Even long-winded.

This was either radically wrongheaded, or so forcefully and stylishly counterintuitive—and unexpected—that I found myself thinking, light-headedly, that it might define a turnaround in American publishing.

The beauty of the Guardian is that it's completely unbeholdened to corporate interests:
There may not be anything else quite like it in commercial publishing anywhere. The Guardian is the fruit of a legal trust whose sole purpose is the perpetuation of the Guardian. In other words, the trust—the Scott Trust, created in 1936 by the Manchester family that controlled the paper—eliminates the exact thing that has most bedeviled media companies: the demands of impatient shareholders and the ambitions of would-be mogul CEOs.

The Guardian, because of this flukish independence, occupies for well-bred left-wing Brits something like the position that the New York Times once held for Upper West Side liberals (or that Fox now holds for red-state anti-liberals): You cannot be who you are without it.

To be sure, the Guardian is not the antithesis of Fox. We need a television and radio network to counter the forces of the Right. But, in conjunction with Gore's television network and the proposed liberal radio network, we're seeing the genesis of a resurgence in a real, honest-to-goodness liberal media.

Bringing the Guardian to these shores -- a publication that has far more cachet post-war than our resident left mags like the New Republic or the Nation. The former is no longer "lefty" by any stretch of the imagination, and the latter is largely irrelevant (flame away, Nation fans).

But the Guardian? Finally a publication with real influence, with some of the best writers in the English-speaking world, and with none of the nationalistic or corporate influences that have made a mockery of US "journalism".

We need a quality print periodical that can provide the intellectual foundation for the liberal agenda (much as the Weekly Standard has done for the Right). The Guardian would be perfect.

Posted July 07, 2003 03:02 PM


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