Why Guardian's US website won't be Americanizing (sic) its spelling

The editor of Guardian America hopes to position the site as a vital “second read” for liberal US readers, and plans to participate in the Washington blogopshere.

Michael Tomasky, formerly a journalist with the liberal US political magazine the American Prospect, will edit the site, which launched on Tuesday.

‘I don’t think our competitors are the New York Times and the Washington Post. We obviously don’t have the resources here in the States to match them or any other huge news organisation,’Tomasky told Press Gazette.

Instead, he expects most of his readers to have started their day with a major American news outlet before turning to the Guardian for a different perspective.

But he stressed that the site would be open to a wide range of viewpoints and would not be ‘a high-decible, screeching left-wing thing”.

“We’re mostly going to follow the conventions of American news writing, with the difference being that I’m going to aim our stories more at what I think our audience is. Our audience probably skews somewhat more liberal than the New York Times’ audience,’he said.

Tuesday’s launch of the site is the latest move in the Guardian’s strategy to become the “world’s leading liberal voice”.

Tomasky sees his role as increasing Guardian Unlimited’s US readership, which they claim currently stands at about one-third of the 16 million monthly unique users.

“If people in England and around the work find what we do interesting, so much the better – but my job is to expand the site’s audience here. To me that means writing for Americans first and foremost,” he says.

“It’s going to be by choice of topic, it’s going to be news that’s a little bit different from what the New York Times and Washington Post do,” he said

The site consists of Guardian Unlimited content selected for American readers, plus additional material commissoned or written by Tomasky’s eight-member team in Washington.

Tomasky said he expects to the site’s blog, Deadline USA, to participate actively with the vibrant network of political blogs run by American publications and independent bloggers.

“All American news outlets from the opinion magazines to now the daily newspapers, have these staff blogs. They create a very important cross-converstation – things are debated and discussed, kicked around and tossed back and forth.

“There’s this conversation that takes place of items and thoughts and debating points sort of ricocheting among all these different blogs – the idea of Deadline USA is to become part of that conversation – get talked about, get linked to, talk about and link to others and just be part of that club.”

One thing Tomasky’s readers will have to become accustomed to is the British spellings of the Guardian house style.

‘I lost a futile argument in London over the summer about the utility of Americanizing (sorry, Americanising) certain spellings,’he wrote in a welcoming essay this week.

He added: “Upon reflection, it’s fine because it is a British entity after all. Some people might actually think it’s quaint and British and charming or something.”

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