New Global Editors Network to Bring Journalism into the Digital Era

Article  by  Dovilé DAVELUY  •  Published 14.04.2011  •  Updated 18.04.2011
[NEWS] New technologies that enable more rapid and interactive news creation and consumption processes are radically changing the landscape of journalism. A new international Global Editors Network (GEN) was launched on March 28th 2011 to respond to the current challenges of the digital revolution.

The new network is headed by former World Editors Forum (WEF)[+] NoteThe network is dedicated to senior editors from across the globe, and aims to represent them and defend editorial excellence. X [1] [2]president Xavier Vidal-Folch, deputy director of Spanish newspaper El País, and former WEF vice-president Harald Stanghelle, political editor of Norway's largest newspaper, Aftenposten. Both resigned from their positions at WEF to focus on the new forum, oriented towards the accelerated media convergence, and aimed at bringing together editors working on various platforms – print, digital, mobile and broadcast.
At the moment, GEN has 23 approved board members from 13 countries, including Jim Roberts from The New York Times, Sylvie Kauffmann from Le Monde, and Azubuike Ishiekwene from Leadership Newspapers in Nigeria. The board also includes online media representatives such as the renowned blogger and professor Jeff Jarvis ( or David Cohn, a founder of
In its manifesto, the founders claim to have founded GEN because they believe that in the digital era, editorial quality and sustainable journalism can only be saved by journalists and news producers themselves. Among the many goals set out in its manifesto, GEN declares it will work to break barriers between old and new media, understand the new news ecosystem based on immediacy, information overload and “disintermediation”[+] NoteMedia no longer play a mediating role of bringing information to news readers.X [3], enhance the quality of journalistic practices, continue innovation and create a global network of professionals. Its ultimate objective is to reinvent the sustainable journalism of tomorrow in the face of the accelerated media convergence due to digitalization and increasing broadband access.
The launch of GEN can be regarded as a response to skeptical voices of the last decade, predicting the demise of traditional journalism and the print media in particular.
Tom Rosenstiel, the director of Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, reports that although the print media are indeed on decline in the developed world, they are thriving in developing countries. For instance, American newspapers have witnessed most dramatic decreases in their ad sales; yet Indian newspapers’ ad revenues increased by 13%, and those of Egyptian and Lebanese newspapers by 10% in the last year for which data is available.
Moreover, decreasing ad revenues have not necessarily had exclusively negative effects by forcing newspapers to rethink their online strategies to keep up with the digital revolution and retain their readership. For example, The New York Times saw its ad sales plummet by 28.4% back in 2009, but has managed to reverse its revenue loss by turning to the web that has initiated its original downfall in the first place. In 2010, the Times Company's advertising revenue finally stabilized as a 21% jump in digital ad sales canceled a 6% decline in print.  Commenting on the company’s comeback, analyst Edward Atorino suggested that “they have put a lot of muscle behind, and it is paying off.” In March 2011, the newspaper announced a digital subscription plan for its online readers. In a letter to readers, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the Times Company, claimed he hoped the step would be seen as “an investment in The Times, one that will strengthen its ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform.”
A study conducted by the Newspaper Association of America in 2010 proves that online newspapers are becoming extremely popular. Newspaper websites saw tremendous traffic in the last quarter of 2010 drawing an average monthly audience of 105.3 million unique visitors - 62% of all adult Internet users. Pew Research Center adds, however, that even if in 2010 the Internet passed newspapers as the primary platform, where Americans get their news, online readers most often turn to online versions of the traditional media outlets such as The New York Times or CNN.
The broadcast media have also had to adapt themselves to the realities of the digital age. Jon Klein, the former president of CNN’s U.S. network, claimed at the Bloomberg BusinessWeek 2010 Media Summit that at present their biggest competition was social network websites like Facebook and Twitter. Pointing to 500 million Facebook users, Klein explained that their mission is to drive social network users “to link back to something on CNN”. CNN has unsubscribed from a number of news wire services, including the AFP, and have been successfully using social networks as free information gathering websites, and investing the spare funds to develop its digital and mobile platforms. For example, Twitter is becoming the fastest way to reach to breaking news, and CNN maintains 45 official Twitter accounts, of which the breaking news one currently has 4,146,357 followers.
The digital revolution is also blurring lines between news production and consumption. As the GEN manifesto outlines, the current situation is one of “disintermediation”. Previously, reporters were middlemen connecting sources of information with readers; now, everybody can be a journalist. The CNN’s iReporter allows anyone to upload their videos and report on topics of their choosing.  Its website announces that “iReport is the way people like you report the news”. On April 8th 2011, the iReporter website counted 471 stories uploaded and 1481 comments posted within the last 24 hours.
Most world news organizations and newspapers now also have mobile applications.
While the Anglo-Saxon media seem to be leading the way into the new digital business models, other countries are also interested, as is attested by the various origins of the GEN’s board members. Equally concerned with these issues, the French industry professionals participated in a forum in Paris on March 25th 2011 to discuss the future of news desks and the rise of blogs in their country.
Photo credit: screenshot of the GEN website
  • 1. The network is dedicated to senior editors from across the globe, and aims to represent them and defend editorial excellence.
  • 2.
  • 3. Media no longer play a mediating role of bringing information to news readers.
Would you like to add or correct something? Contact the editorial staff