Today, Alan Rusbridger, steps down after 20 years’ of amazing service as editor of the world-respected, Pulitzer Prize-winning Guardian newspaper. He took over the reigns in 1995, after initially joining in 1979, leaving for a short stint then returning for good, to launch the Weekend magazine in 1988, followed by the paper’s G2 section in 1992.
In my mind, without The Guardian, the British newspaper landscape would have been a very sorry place over those years. Simplistically, we would have been left with a choice between Murdoch-owned propaganda machines (The Times and The Sun), the appropriately-nicknamed ‘ToryGraph’ (the Daily Telegraph), or a constant diet of salacious celebrity tittle-tattle (Daily Mail or Daily Express, anyone?), with an un-engaging sprinkling of economics in between (the Financial Times).
The Guardian not only brings us honest and fair reporting, covering the issues that matter, it truly champions the people of this country and beyond. Not for PR currency, but because it genuinely cares about the issues that should be affecting us all, whether through our first hand suffering, or emotionally and ethically, through the suffering we witness in others.
I’ve seen Alan speak on a few occasions and I have always been struck by his compassion and integrity. Invaluable qualities that, for a lesser man, may have diminished over the years as his influence and success increased. Yet, he has stayed consistently true to his ethics, leading his team in a way that reflects that, even down to the management and overall direction of the paper. Democratically run, the Guardian team chose Alan’s successor, Katherine Viner, by group vote. Similarly, they sat down in a room together one lunch time to debate and mutually agree on who the paper would support in the recent election.
Foolishly, despite not actually knowing Alan (and despite the fact that he’s not dead, just retiring from The Guardian..), I really do feel like I’m saying goodbye to an old friend. To me he embodies the spirit and the values of The Guardian, both of which I admire greatly. So, whilst I’m happy for him and look forward to seeing what he does next, I know he will be missed.