Alan Rusbridger's Breaking News breaks new ground when it comes to covering journalism
Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now
Open journalism promotes democratic discourse
Rusbridger has always been inclined toward what he calls "open journalism", encouraging far more people to contribute and have access to the Guardian website.
He gave a platform to more radical commentators, such as Glenn Greenwald and George Monbiot, who went far further than other journalists in their coverage of national security and climate change, respectively.
Then he did something that no other mainstream-media editor did before.
In his final year as editor-in-chief, Rusbridger decided that the Guardian should actively and vociferously campaign for institutional investors to divest from fossil fuels, zeroing in on large charities run by the Wellcome Trust and billionaire Bill Gates.
In doing this, Rusbridger was encouraged by Monbiot and 350.org cofounder Bill McKibben.
"The attraction of the campaign was that it enabled readers to be more than passive and fatalistic recipients of disturbing information over which they had no control—one reason, research had shown, why people didn't like reading about climate change," Rusbridger writes. "We told them how to divest their own pensions; how to lobby their schools, workplaces, unions or faith groups. We invited them to write to the boards of Wellcome and Gates—and they did."
Even the Prince of Wales endorsed the campaign and, according to Rusbridger, "a trickle of divestment became a stream".
"I still believed that such overt campaigning should have a limited role in news media," Rusbridger emphasizes in his book. "But, if you were going to make an exception, the long-term survival of the species was as good as any issue."
It's a remarkable book written by one of the most thoughtful journalists of our time. And it just might be the perfect antidote for anyone who despairs about the ability of journalists to stand for truth and justice in a time when authoritarian leaders are gaining ground.