Alan Rusbridger

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Alan Rusbridger, 2007

Alan Charles Rusbridger (born 29 December 1953) is the editor of the British magazine Prospect, a post he assumed in 2021. Previously a reporter and a columnist, he became editor of The Guardian in 1995, remaining in the post until 2015 when he was succeeded by Katharine Viner.




  • All journalism is investigative to a greater or lesser extent, but investigative journalism – though it is a bit of a tautology – is that because it requires more, it's where the investigative element is more pronounced.
    • Rusbridger (1999) cited in: Hugo De Burgh (2008) Investigative journalism. p. 17.


  • We will encourage reporters to be as specific as possible about the source of any anonymous quotation.
    • "No more ghostly voices". The Guardian (14 July 2000), as cited in Bob Franklin, ‎Martin Hamer, ‎Mark Hanna (2005) Key Concepts in Journalism Studies. p. 134.
  • You can't possibly care about debt relief and the Simpsons. If you listen to Ligeti and James Macmillan then why would you want to know who won the United game last night or which Cabernet Sauvignon to drink with your meal tonight? Get back into your box.
    Something else missing from the Times of 1968 was anything to do with the home or emotional life. There is nothing about marriage, divorce, children, schools, au pairs, depression, drinking, health, drugs, teenagers, affairs, fashion, sex, successful relationships, failing relationships, interior decor, cancer, infertility, faith, grandparents - or any of the other things that make up the texture of our non-working lives.
    • "Versions of seriousness", The Guardian (4 November 2000), cited in: Raymond Boyle (2006) Sports Journalism: Context and Issues. p. 11
    • According to Boyle 2006, Rusbridger argued that "changes in the broadsheet press simply reflects wider cultural shift in taste and the breaking down of areas of supposedly high and low culture." James MacMillan is incorrectly rendered as James Macmillan in the source.
  • It would be difficult to devise a process more inclined to throw up errors than the production of a newspaper.
    • Rusbridger (2000) as cited in Jarman, Ruth, ‎McClune, Billy (2007) Developing scientific literacy. p. 35.
  • [There is a] widespread feeling that newspapers are failing in their duty of truly representing the complexity of some of the most important issues in society.
  • We're no longer a once-a-day text medium for a predominantly domestic audience. Increasingly - around the clock - we use a combination of media in telling stories, and in commentary, to millions of users around the globe.
    • "We're all doomed to be surprised" The Guardian, Monday 20 August 2007; Partly cited in: Peter English. "Caught by the Web: The Case of Guardian News & Media's Sports Desk." Journal of Sports Media 7.1 (2012): 133-148.
  • The papers should promote minority views as well as mainstream argument and should encourage dissent.
    • Rusbridger (2008) on The Guardian priorities, cited in: Richard Lance Keeble, John Tulloch, Florian Zollmann (2010) Peace journalism, war and conflict resolution. p. 301.
  • The greater the speed required of us in the digital world – and speed does matter, but never at the expense of accuracy or fairness or anything which would imperil trust – the more we should be honest about the tentative nature of what is possible.
    • Rusbridger (2008) cited in: Stuart Allan (2010) News Culture. p. 2.
  • In the days when we could take it for granted that journalism mattered, we could only share assumptions about what it was, how it was delivered and funded, but this is not the case any more.
  • When I look back over some of the most high-profile things we’ve done recently at The Guardian I see an interesting pattern emerging – a form of collaborative journalism that I can best describe as a mutualised newspaper.
    • "I've seen the future and it's mutual." British Journalism Review, Vol 20 (3), 2009. p. 19-26; Partly cited in: Santo da Cunha, Rodrigo do Espírito, and Rodrigo Martins Aragão. "Clicar, arrastar, girar: o conceito de interatividade em revistas para iPad."
  • It took one tweet on Monday evening as I left the office to light the virtual touchpaper. At five past nine I tapped: "Now Guardian prevented from reporting parliament for unreportable reasons. Did John Wilkes live in vain?"… By the time I got home, after stopping off for a meal with friends, the Twittersphere had gone into meltdown. Twitterers had sleuthed down Farrelly's question, published the relevant links and were now seriously on the case. By midday on Tuesday "Trafigura" was one of the most searched terms in Europe, helped along by re-tweets by Stephen Fry and his 830,000-odd followers.
    ... One or two legal experts uncovered the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840, wondering if that would help? Common #hashtags were quickly developed, making the material easily discoverable. By lunchtime – an hour before we were due in court – Trafigura threw in the towel. The textbook stuff – elaborate carrot, expensive stick – had been blown away by a newspaper together with the mass collaboration of total strangers on the web. Trafigura thought it was buying silence. A combination of old media – the Guardian – and new – Twitter – turned attempted obscurity into mass notoriety.
    • "The Trafigura fiasco tears up the textbook" The Guardian, Wednesday 14 October 2009, as cited in Paul Bradshaw, ‎Liisa Rohumaa (2013) The Online Journalism Handbook: Skills to survive and thrive in the Digital Age. p. 176.


  • It's a highly effective way of spreading ideas, information and content. Don't be distracted by the 140-character limit. A lot of the best tweets are links. It's instantaneous. Its reach can be immensely far and wide.

    Why does this matter? Because we do distribution too. We're now competing with a medium that can do many things incomparably faster than we can. It's back to the battle between scribes and movable type. That matters in journalistic terms. And, if you're trying to charge for content, it matters in business terms. The life expectancy of much exclusive information can now be measured in minutes, if not in seconds.

  • There are plenty who think that, as our libel laws are cleaned up, smart lawyers are switching horses to privacy.
    • Rusbridger (2011), as cited in John Steel (2013) Journalism and Free Speech. p. 92.
  • Unnoticed by most of the world, Julian Assange was developing into a most interesting and unusual pioneer in using digital technologies to challenge corrupt and authoritarian states.
    • Rusbridger (2011), as cited in Benedetta Brevini, ‎Arne Hintz, ‎Patrick McCurdy (2013) Beyond WikiLeaks: Implications for the Future of Communications, Journalism and Society. p. 1994.

Does journalism exist? (2010)

"The Hugh Cudlipp lecture: Does journalism exist?" The Guardian (Monday 25 January 2010).
  • Ask any British journalist who were their editor-heroes over the last 30 or 40 years and two names keep recurring. One is Harry Evans. The other is Hugh Cudlipp.

    Why were they so admired? Because they seemed to represent the best of journalistic virtues – courage, campaigning, toughness, compassion, humour, irreverence; a serious engagement with serious things; a sense of fairness; an eye for injustice; a passion for explaining; knowing how to achieve impact; a connection with readers. Even if you missed their editorships – as I did with Hugh Cudlipp – both men wrote inspiring books about journalism: about how to do it, but, more importantly, about why it mattered.

    • p. 1.
  • The BBC is almost certainly the best news organisation in the world – the most serious, comprehensive, ethical, accurate, international, wide-ranging, fair and impartial.
    • p. 5, partly cited in Bob Franklin (2013) The Future of Journalism. p. 1968.
  • Journalists have never before been able to tell stories so effectively, bouncing off each other, linking to each other (as the most generous and open-minded do), linking out, citing sources, allowing response – harnessing the best qualities of text, print, data, sound and visual media. If ever there was a route to building audience, trust and relevance, it is by embracing all the capabilities of this new world, not walling yourself away from them.
    • p. 7, cited in Janet Jones, ‎Lee Salter (2011) Digital Journalism. p. 88. Also cited in Bob Franklin (2013) The Future of Journalism. p. 1969

Quotes about Alan Rusbridger

  • These days, the editor of The Guardian is a journalistic “global celebrity,” as Bill Keller put it to me—Adweek dubbed him “the Ben Bradlee of phone hacking.” It was under his leadership that the paper broke the WikiLeaks story, then the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, then the efforts at Rupert Murdoch’s company to cover it up. Guardian reporting triggered investigations that have so far led to arrests of more than 40 Murdoch journalists and executives. “Something happened last year,” says Rusbridger, slipping into a sweet reminiscence about the halfway downfall of Britain’s media king, who seems never far from his mind. “It was quite extraordinary if you lived through this period to see … the bursting of the bubble.”
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