Guardian to act as platform for arts organisations

The Guardian has been talking about being ‘of the web’ rather than ‘on the web’ for some years now, with a “federated” (as some staff call it) approach to publishing which often involves either selling advertising across, or pulling in content from, other sites (disclosure: this is one of them). Its Open Platform is a technical expression of the same idea, allowing others to build things with its content – which can then take advertising with it. And its successful Facebook app shows its ability to adopt any platform that works.

Now it has announced a partnership with arts organisations – and YouTube – that demonstrates a further development of this approach. 

It’s a recognition that it’s not just media organisations that are now in the content business (witness Manchester City’s policy of recruiting digital heads from press and TV) – and a news publisher’s role has to be re-assessed in that context (better to be partners than competitors, perhaps?).

Here is a list of what’s going to be produced as a result:

  • Glyndebourne: live-streaming five operas, as well as “recordings to accompany two other productions this season […] Each opera will be available to view again on the Guardian’s website, and each will be accompanied by a series of podcasts and videos as well as related editorial, blogs, picture galleries and live chat with the Guardian’s expert team of critics.
  • Royal Opera House with YouTube: streaming “a full day of rehearsals from The Royal Ballet from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, featuring live streams of two ballets currently in development”
  • The Young Vic: “working with them to develop an exclusive short film starring Patrick Stewart”
  • The Roundhouse:  live streaming Cirkus Cirkör Undermän
  • Artangel: streaming “intimate live performances and recorded podcasts by a number of renowned artists”

Naturally, acting as a platform for third party content raises the question of how this affects editorial integrity. In the announcement Stephen Folwell, Business Director, Multimedia and Brand Extensions, Guardian News & Media, mentions “the diverse [multimedia*] packages we can offer other potential partners.” But it wouldn’t be the first time a news organisation has had to manage this tension, as I coincidentally blogged about in my previous post – it’s just the old problem in a new suit.

Meanwhile, in the same newspaper, art critic Jonathan Jones writes about how his role changed as readers became content producers too.

*Clarification from a GNM spokesperson, who adds: “We also offer sponsorship opportunities around multimedia content”

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