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Craft, the Journalist and the Agency Strategist

23rd November 12

Posted by Mel Exon

Posted in storytelling, strategy

The Guardian’s Editor, Alan Rusbridger, came into BBH earlier this year and spoke to a group of us about what it takes to deliver open journalism. In particular he described how one of his most awarded journalists, Nick Davies, operates day-to-day. He shared three or four articles Davies had written recently, breaking down the anatomy of each story in meticulous detail. And it properly sank in that “open journalism” doesn’t just mean simply laying the news bare, unfiltered, checked or analysed, nor does it mean opening up a new fire hose of information in the hope someone will make sense of it.

Perhaps the clue is in the phrase “Open Journalism”. As they say at The Guardian, “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”. The Guardian staff are information omnivores, analysts, fact checkers and storytellers. And, as Rusbridger put it to us, there are 3 characteristics that define ‘craft’ in journalism. Very few journalists master all three (Nick Davies is perhaps a rare example), but here they are:

1. A relish or hunger to find out new intelligence
2. The intellectual ability to see patterns in that data; see the big picture and understand the facts
3. An ability to write beautifully

It sounded strikingly similar to what makes a truly great Strategist in an agency. Three things a Strategist usefully might aim for, either way.

Good weekends, all.

2 comments on “Craft, the Journalist and the Agency Strategist”

  1. [...] Mel Exon (BBH Labs) once wrote a post comparing a good journalist with a strategist, pointing out the 3 characteristics both should have: [...]

  2. [...] Mel Exon (BBH Labs) once wrote a post comparing a good journalist with a strategist, mentioning the three traits each ought to have: [...]

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