Alan Rusbridger knows a thing or two about high-stakes journalism.
During his 20-year tenure running the British newspaper The Guardian, he collaborated with NSA contractor Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on blockbuster stories drawn from secret government documents. Though Rusbridger left The Guardian in 2015, he remembers the stress vividly.
“We were publishing every minute of the day around the world,” he says. “It’s a matter of deadlines and never enough information and people trying to sue you and generally harass you.”
And just as The Guardian was covering these massive stories, Rusbridger was also dealing with serious challenges to the journalism industry itself. While many newspapers at the time were establishing paywalls, under Rusbridger’s watch, The Guardian created an economic model in which online users were asked — but not required — to pay for the newspaper’s content. It’s a model that seems to be working.