My new job: editing the Guardian’s Technology section

OK, it’s probably the only job (certainly the only one I could think of) that would pull me back from freelancing, which has been hugely enjoyable.

But anyhow, from late November, I’m going to be taking over the editing of the Guardian’s Technology supplement. (The blog is here.)

Yes, I’m sure everyone wants to know in fine detail how it’s going to change. I’d rather get my feet under the desk first. It’s already had one radical change – with the redesign – so this is hardly the time to go mad. One obvious thing to say: no plans for any personnel changes.

But of course if you’d like to suggest what it should have more (or less) of, feel free. Comments are open.

47 Comments

  1. Congrats on the new job. One of the things I’ve noticed from reading the FT, is that every 2nd page is about China, either technology made in China, or technology being exported to China. Its well know that different countries are at different speeds or use technology different, perhaps a look at technology in different country each week might be a nice idea as a regular column (some hints of this is already in this weeks issue on developing countries and mobile phones).

  2. Congratulations Charles! What’s going to happen to Jack Schofield?

  3. Well done & congratulations.

    The Independent science and tech section has suffered from inconsistency in focus, continuity, space and, it would appear, love of late.

    The Guardian’s technology section certainly has the space (long may it last) so it just needs a chap to bring coherence as well a touch more real computing and tech politics to balance the gizmos and games. I miss the grumpy David Hewson at the Sunday Times – it’s ALL gee whizz, come and win a TV there now – I particularly loved his BT bashing and his two trips to Damascus: one to trade in his Mac for a PC and the other to buy it back.

    Soooo… (dare I say it) the nationals need at least one fully literate, and sceptical, Apple Computer man in place to man the fort rather than one who commutes in along the MP3.

  4. congrats charles.

    now i have a real dilemma, with the format change to the Grauniad and now your joining, not sure what there is to stop me switching from the Indy. especially because of their premium wall hiding their past content.

    in case any other readers of this blog think this sounds like i’m sucking up : they’d be entirely correct. Please let me know if you need a researcher etc ;)

    i am sure there is even a story along the lines of “Hired through a Blog Post” in there somewhere…

    cheers

    Will

  5. More news in briefs please! That was one of the parts to get axed in the redesign and I miss it.

  6. Enough with the velvet gloves! SACK ‘EM ALL.

  7. Charles

    congratulations on the new post. I look forward to loads of coverage of all the things we’re doing around Web 2.0 to advance access to information from libraries and beyond… :-)

  8. Congrats Charles. But yes, what is gonna happen to Jack then?

  9. Good news indeed. The new look section is OK, but it needs more news and more practical business stuff (i.e. from a user perspective, not a company). I enjoy the entertainment/games stuff so am suggesting as well as, rather than instead of.

  10. Charles

    Thursday 27 October 2005 at 11:00 am

    > What’s going to happen to Jack Schofield?

    Why would anything happen to Jack? He’s hugely experienced, widely read, accurate, well-known, and on the staff.

  11. Excellent news ! Congratulations.

    To me, it appears that the page size has increased, but there is less content.
    Perhaps an article on It outsourcing ?
    Anyway, I look forward to it.

  12. > Why would anything happen to Jack?
    Well he’s the current editor isn’t he? Given his qualities (which you list), why is he being replaced as editor? Or is he stepping down?

  13. Charles

    Thursday 27 October 2005 at 12:22 pm

    Victor Keegan had edited Online (as it was) for years. He’s retiring. Hence, vacancy. Jack’s role remains unchanged.

  14. Oh… I had always thought it was Jack for some reason. Well good to see he remains!

  15. Congratulations Charles, I look forward to seeing what changes will be instigated by yourself. I happened to pick up the Guardian today, had a read of the tech section for the first time since the restyling; I like the front article from Henry Blodget, and I dare say it fits in nicely with your skeptical take on the first dot-com boom. If I were to pass judgement on the whole secion, I would argue for a slightly more serious tone to the front of the Tech supplement; the articles and columns on football games, girl gamers, etc are well written, but could be reorganised better, perhaps. More distinct seperation between business and play.

    Your influence from the Indy has been missed, I feel; it’s tech section is very threadbare now. With that, the preachy front cover crusades and the Guardian’s redesign (including the beautiful cross page prints), I’ll be buying the Guardian from now on.

  16. Congrats on the new job. I agree that the impression many people have got is that the IT section appears to have less content now – and mainly consumer/gadget/games focussed – the old style section seemed to get the balance right between consumer/business/public sector, etc. And yes, the demise of News in Brief was a pity. Anyway, as you say, you need to get your feet under the table before anything happens ;-) Enjoy your remaining weeks of freelancing!

  17. Congratulations Charles.

    There’s not enough articles about BlackBerries in the Guardian. Or Apples. More fruit related computing articles please. Especially if there’s a computer company called Loganberry or Tinned Peaches.

    And if you need a freelancer to write totally unbiased articles about BlackBerries, I’m available. ;-)

  18. > Victor Keegan had edited Online (as it was) for years. He’s retiring. Hence, vacancy. Jack’s role remains unchanged.

    So still lots of MS fanboy articles and Apple knocking then? :-)

  19. I should also say that I read far less of the Technology section than I used to. This may be because so much of what appears is essentially old news to anyone who spends a lot of time on the web. Some of it also because there is a lot of stuff about things I have no interest in at all – games, game machines, mobile phones.

    I always read the letters though. And articles that mention me of course.

  20. >I should also say that I read far less
    >of the Technology section than I used to.

    That’s because there’s a lot less of it to read.

  21. It should have more of my writing! Congratulations.

  22. Charles
    As a regular reader of the Guardian (one of those rare paid-up digital subscribers), I welcome you coming onboard. I switched from the Indy when they lost the last good commentator (David Aaronovitch), though he has since moved on to the Times. The Indy should now be ashamed of it’s coverage of technology and science.
    But I’d agree wholeheartedly with Mull’s comments. Those are the things to take a look at.
    And please do something about Jack’s short-sightedness!

    ps Hope you’ll still keep up the blog here!

  23. Many congratulations, Charles. Nice to see you landing such a great job! What a combination you’ll have to work with – a weekly technology section and a blog. It’s also interesting to see the reader comments above. Once you’re settled in, you know where to contact me!

  24. I’d just like more of it! Web2.0 page or half page would be nice

  25. First up, congratulations! Sad to see that Victor’s retiring, though – he always brought a great combination of enthusiasm AND level-headedness to his writing in particular. And that should be the overall style of the publication, I suppose: contextualising and being “journalistic” rather than enthusiastic.

    The only criticism I have of the section at the moment is that I think the design has robbed it of a little of its pacing – it feels like there’s less that leads the reader from page to page. But that often happens in the first few issues after a redesign, so it’ll probably settle down.

  26. Congratulations Charles

    I love the new Guardian design – avid reader of the technology section – but i do miss the “news in briefs” part. Some more focus on business/consumer/industry software stories would be good – i’ve noticed more of a focus on gadgets+games lately…

    Best of Luck
    Fergus

  27. Hi Charles,

    Just seen this post linked on a journalists’ forum. I was going to e-mail The Guardian with a bit of a rant yesterday, but I guess it might be more productive to say something here :)

    The Guardian tech section is enjoyable to read. BUT, it seems to have the same content every week. For example. In this weeks, you have the token article on google. Then, you have the token article on girl-gaming stereotypes. And then, the biggest crime, you have the unbelievably predictable column about how someone LONGS for a simple mobile phone that just does text and talk. It’s been said a million times before, and NO-ONE cares. Especially not in the tech section, where the chances are, the majority of readers WOULD want a fancy phone.

    Good luck Charles, I look forward to seeing you get your mits on it :)

    Dave
    http://www.dave-lee.org

  28. >> Congrats Charles. But yes, what is gonna happen to Jack then?

    > Jack’s position remains unchanged.

    To be clear, I launched and edited Computer Guardian. However, I have *never* been editor of Online, which has had three different editors over its life. Sure, I’ve edited various bits of Online at various times, when needed, and looked after the Inside IT section, and the games reviews, but I didn’t apply for the job and don’t actually want it. I spent 20 years being an editor or a managing editor and doing things that weren’t what I became a journalist for….

    That’s not hard to understand, is it? ;-)

    And, with no disrespect to previous incumbents, it certainly seems to me that Charles will be the best-qualified editor Online/Technology has ever had.

  29. Oh, and wrt a comment above. Please, *NOTHING AT ALL* about “web 2.0″ unless it is entirely satirical and bubble bursting. (technologies fine, pointless commercial hyping, no thanks)

  30. I concur completely with L. I’ve seen things like Flock purporting to be “web 2.0″ and yes, it’s got some interesting features, but nothing that merits the term web 2.0.

  31. Well done, Charles. I did wonder whether you were going for it, but thought you’d decided that a freelancer’s life was just the thing. Still, it’s an irresistable cherry to pick. Is it five days a week in Farringdon?

    r

  32. Hey, Charles did you see this quote about the Forbes v weblogs thing :

    “I was embarrassed for both you and Forbes today, when I read your one-sided, fact-bashing diatribe. I would have expected this level of journalism to have come from other sources such as the New York Post or the online Guardian.”

  33. Charles

    Monday 31 October 2005 at 11:13 pm

    ..yeah, but you know how Forbes can be. (Oh, and a sidenote: this is now the second most-commented post on the blog. The first of course belongs to that bunch of ..singers.)

  34. First to remember it that is not The Guardian’s “Technology Section”. It is the “Information Technology Section”. Very different, as you know.

    “IT” is generally built around old technology. (There is not much that is new in your beloved Macs.) Pushing up the storage density on a hard disk, or making chips run faster, hardly counts as cutting edge.

    Sadly, most “technology writers” are no such thing, merely star struck computer users.

    If you can bring your own knowledge of real technology to bear, the stuff you wrote about before you fell off the straight and narrow, and get some of that into The Guardian, instead of the current froth, good on you. Sadly, real technology does not have quite the same advertiser appeal.

  35. Charles

    Tuesday 1 November 2005 at 3:34 pm

    I think Mike that it’s the “Technology” section, which I might interpret as the Editor and the other editors swimming around see fit :-)

    True, “real” technology doesn’t have quite the same advertiser appeal – but it does have reader appeal, I think. And where the readers go, advertisers follow .. isn’t that right?

    And which particular straight and narrow was I that I was on before I fell off, and where did I fall off to?

  36. What changes? I reckon strident, thought-provoking front-page features putting technology into historical context. NIBs acting as mini news analyses on the week’s IT news. A more circumspect look at new technology. Continuing the recognition that games are now worthy of informed and intelligent writing – although maybe move it back a page. I really think a section that explains how certain technology actually works would be really interesting. A small area devoted to the future – either informed and gentle or crazed future prediction. And a column written by me :-). That’s my thinking.

  37. Right, of course. It is the Technology section, as I saw when I read today’s paper. In my defence, I had always, well in the few weeks since its launch, looked at the vertical bit of the “logo” and seen it as the “I” of IT. And from the content, it is hard to think of the scetion as anything but I Technology. Hang on, there is a piece about milking cows in today’s issue. Now that really is udderly earth shattering.

  38. i haven’t read it yet. is it a mooving piece?

  39. yes – I’d give them a pat on the back for that one.

  40. charles, in case you are interested some reaction to a piece on Apple from yesterday’s technology section.

    i find macdailynews overfull of pro-apple zealotry most of the time, however, some of the comments are interesting particularly the one that characterises the entire UK tech media as generally anti-Apple…

    http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/7454/

  41. Hardly brain fodder:

  42. Come off it. The “entire UK tech media” is “generally anti-Apple”?. Well, it’s a ludicrous characterisation to make, and in any case misses the point of the article. Not a month ago we ran 1,500 words talking to Jobs about how successful Apple is right now. It was fairly complementary, and I should know because I wrote it. The Guardian’s overall coverage towards Apple is very favourable, and nobody should be surprised that anybody making criticisms of the firm gets flamed.

    Glad people liked the milking cows, too. I wrote it on the hoof.

    Anyway: I’m very glad indeed that Charles will be joining Technology (not IT!) Guardian, as is the rest of the team.

  43. BTW I didn’t say i agreed with that particluar comment, i was just amused at how the macdailynews site tends to flame anything that comes into its sights. the cupertino jihad thing gets a bit wearing at times!

  44. sorry, that shouldn’t have been anonymous, i forgot i was posting from home and not my work computer!

  45. don’t worry will, it was more a general response to the accusation. seemed easier to say it here than respond to the 9 million emails we’ve had.

  46. i bet 9 million is not an exaggeration either…!

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