After months of feverish anticipation (chiefly voiced in the Guardian’s Media supplement), Guardian America finally launched today – boasting an exclusive interview with Hilary Clinton and a whole section dedicated to the 2008 presidential elections.
In his welcome note, editor Michael Tomasky says the new site will represent ‘the liberal interest’ expressing its worldview of the world ‘a bit more openly than American newspapers do’, looking at the events of the day ‘from a slightly different angle than US papers, and focusing in on some matters that they might ignore’.
Tomasky also proudly points out that the Guardian already has five million unique visitors to its site per month. But this begs the question – why bother with a US edition at all? Do Americans really need their news re-ordered in ways that have been deemed more interesting to them (ie. with a story about Ireland moved up to the landing page)?
And in this is there not an implicit– and slightly patronising – assumption that Americans are no good at making news themselves, or have to be spoon-fed information people from other countries are perfectly capable of rooting out for themselves? Tomasky claims to not know what the Peterloo massacre was – ‘ but is sounds bad’. Is this, one wonders, deliberate dumbing down?
That the site will adhere to British English further calls into question who it’s really aimed at – is it going to be a barometer for what Americans are thinking, or for what British liberals think America should be thinking?
The counter-argument, of course, is that you can never have too much information, there is a chronic lack of foreign news coverage in the mainstream US media, and the site will be of interest not only to Americans, but those interested in American interests. Besides, it’s not as if you’d be hard pressed to find American products on the British web, TV and airwaves.