Briefing Notes: Guardian Development

Chloe Choppen
Chloe Choppen4th February 2019

Guardian Development was originally conceived as a separate section from the Guardian, a place where development stories could be covered in more detail. It is now much more integrated, and an intrinsic part of the paper. With foreign reporting cut back, GD now takes responsibility for much of the foreign coverage and therefore works closely with the foreign desk. It is funded by six foundations and trusts, including Gates, Rockefeller, Packard and Humanity United. Each of these has their own agenda but GD remains editorially independent, free to criticise all including their funders, and free to focus on the issues that the team feels are important.


Under Tracy’s editorship, GD has reduced the amount of stories, and has given more resources to the stories it chooses to cover, so that the reporting is more in depth. She wants to encourage more ‘muscular’ reporting. If a foreign story is headline news, it’s likely the foreign desk will be managing the coverage; once it is out of the headlines then coverage reverts to GD.

They are interested in all aspects of development and the developing world including health, disease, gender, modern day slavery, sex trafficking, climate change, oceans, employment, entrepreneurship, animal welfare, post conflict, technology, sexual and reproductive rights.

They also want to do a better job of reflecting grassroots voices and concerns.

A recent innovation is the weekly podcast, produced by Lucy, called Small Changes. This is very popular and appeals to a young audience. Podcasts are typically 15 minutes long so each one needs a story, a narrative arc. Any suggestions should go to her. She’s keen to interview people who can talk in the first person about what they are doing, activists and others, who speak good English and are either passing through London or have access to a good telephone line. Lucy gave an example of a recent interviewee, who was an LGBTQI activist from Malaysia. So far all the interviewees have been English speaking but they may make exceptions in the future, they are still thinking about whether they could record in a foreign language and do a voice over in English. They want people who are active not charity CEOs.

Story ideas can go to Tracy or direct to reporters, especially if you have a relationship with them. Peter was the chief foreign correspondent with The Observer; Annie writes about modern day slavery and sex trafficking; Kate covers SE Asia and India; Karen watches DFID closely; Liz writes about women’s rights and gender.

Pitches should be short, just one or two paragraphs, not beautifully polished essays. They cover all parts of the world. There are no particular places they want to priorities, apart from Yemen where it is so hard to report from.

Tracy is looking for opeds but these should come from people with a passion and a strong opinion – this is far more important than the issue being written about.

Slideshows do work sometimes although the bar is high as the Guardian has its own team of very good photographers.

They also occasionally commission videos – these ideas should go to Claudine who works closely with the Guardian’s documentary team under Charlie.

There is a new section called Upside which has a small budget for positive stories – pitches should go to Mark. Well worth taking a look at.

Environmental stories can go to the environment team if they have a science focus; if they are about affected populations then they should go to GD.

GD has a global audience – the exact make up depends on the stories but they have a big following in the UK, the US, India and Africa, especially Nigeria.


KEY CONTACTS Editor, Guardian Development Executive Editor, GD Deputy editor, GD Reporter, GD Reporter, GD Reporter, GD Reporter, GD Reporter, GD Reporter/video producer, GD Health editor Environment editor Head of special projects/The Upside Global environment editor Environment correspondent Energy correspondent Senior news editor Head of documentaries

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