Alan Rusbridger is a prime mover in the fast-changing digital revolution from both the news and news management perspectives. As Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian for two decades, he oversaw seminal investigative reporting into the era's most important government and private sector surveillance leaks and hacks as well as facilitated the newspaper's dramatic growth from a modest U.K. daily to the key international player in online media with offices now in the US and Australia. Beyond the computer screen, Rusbridger followed his personal passions to make meaningful contributions to the cause of environmental activism, and modeled for broad audiences the value and benefits of making time for creative expression.
The Guardian is owned by the Scott Trust under a unique proprietorship structure; it ensures that the paper serves the public with independence from corporate and government interests. As its standard-bearer, Rusbridger seized such journalistic lightning rods as WikiLeaks; Rupert Murdoch's News of the World phone-hacking scandal; and Edward Snowden's NSA surveillance revelations, which garnered a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service (and landed Rusbridger a cameo in the Oliver Stone film). During this time, The Guardian was awarded the prestigious 'Newspaper of the Year' five times and Alan was voted as 'Editor of the Year' on three occasions. He also won the “alternative Nobel Prize,” the Right Livlihood Award.
In the midst of constantly breaking news, during his 20 years at the helm, Rusbridger transformed The Guardian from black-and-white print read predominantly by U.K. citizens to a multimedia, online, round-the-clock powerhouse that attracts more than 8 million unique visitors a day. Under his direction, the paper eschewed the paywall, actively engaged its readership in open conversation — and, in 2015, overtook the New York Times as the world's predominant English language source for hard news and considered opinion. Digitally generated revenues for The Guardian amounted to USD100m in 2015 this is an extraordinary achievement and it is a credit to his vision and leadership in the past few years.
Perhaps as difficult as putting out a provocative, exponentially expanding world-class newspaper is managing your own time while doing so. So it is remarkable that during one of his most professionally trying times, the amateur pianist Rusbridger recommitted himself to music and to learning Chopin's incredibly challenging Ballade No. 1. The story of his disciplined, year-long effort is not only a celebration of the enriching qualities of music but an inspiration to those who struggle to carve time for creative expression during days dictated by distractions and deadlines. He published an account of this period — which also included directing the phone-hacking and Wikileaks investigations — in a book called Play it Again, published in the US by FSG.
In his final months as editor-in-chief, Rusbridger self-imposed another deadline to actively address what he felt was a critical global concern —climate change. By launching a groundbreaking informational campaign endorsed by the UN General Secretary, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Prince Charles, and several Nobel prize winners, he engaged more than 400 institutions and 2000 individuals to commit $2.6 billion to more environmentally responsible investing.
Rusbridger has spoken extensively on digital security and citizens rights; on participatory — "open" — journalism and its ramifications; on climate change and effective engagement of stakeholders; and on the value of music and a personal, creative practice. He's been invited to address many organisations including the Vatican, the European Union, the Oxford Union, judges, media corporations and intelligence agencies, among many others.
Born in Zambia and educated at Cambridge, Rusbridger cut his teeth as a general reporter, then did time as a feature writer, a TV critic and Washington correspondent before he was charged with launching the Guardian "Weekend Magazine." Not long afterwards, he took over the paper's top position.
In addition to leading The Guardian to an Emmy and a Pulitzer Prize, he has been the recipient of the Liberty Human Rights Award, the European Press Prize, the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award and was the first non-American citizen to win Harvard University's Goldsmith Award for Lifetime Achievement. Among his numerous other honours, Rusbridger has received multiple distinctions and honourary doctorates from universities around the world. He has served as chair of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the Photographers' Gallery in London and has written drama for BBC One.
Rusbridger is Principal of LMH (Lady Margaret Hall), Oxford University, where he blogs about higher education. He was appointed chairman of Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford in April 2016.
In addition to Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible, a book based on his year learning Ballade No. 1, Rusbridger is also the author of three books for children.