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Q&A: Edward Roussel, Telegraph Digital Editor 'Thinking Lean'

Ed RousselEdward Roussel is the executive editor, digital at the Telegraph Media Group. Edward is speaking at the AOP’s flagship Summit event on October 12, which is looking at how publishers can adopt the lean startup approach to improve their products and respond to extreme market uncertainty. He will be on a panel discussing how journalism can be made more efficient without compromising quality. Here he talks about how the Telegraph has responded to challenges of digital journalism

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Can the "lean startup" methodology be applied to journalism? Absolutely. The newspaper model: high costs, high revenues. Internet model: low costs, low revenue. The internet has turned journalism into a global industry. A one-man blogger is a global publisher. In that context, journalism has gone from being a scarce commodity to one where there is over-supply. For publishers to be successful - commercially - they need to be focused on where they genuinely add value. What niche or niches can you truly own - i.e. be no. 1 in the market? And what can you stop doing in order to re-focus resource on core strengths. "Do what you do best and link to the rest" as Jeff Jarvis says. Are there any new tools or technologies that can be used to make journalism more efficient? Yes. Ten years ago, website content management systems - publishing tools - were complex systems that were feared and shunned by most journalists. The simplicity of modern CMS's means anyone can be a publisher, and you can publish from anywhere: desktop, home, mobile. In coming years the dominant publishing systems will be on mobile, not desktop, meaning journalists will be able to publish text, video, pictures from wherever they happen to be. Have you adopted any new approaches to make journalism more efficient? Yes. We have merged our newspaper and web operations, meaning that all journalists write for both. In a previous era there was considerable duplication or roles delivering no value but generating punishing costs. Hence, there were three Telegraph Sports Editors, rather than one, and there were as many as three journalists covering a football match - Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Telegraph website. We have focused on selecting the most able leaders and journalists. Quality trumps volume. Are there new resources you can tap into, for example bloggers? Sure. We have a hugely successful blogs platform that now has millions of readers each month, a video unit that broadcasts some 8 million streams a month,  dozens of daily picture galleries, a crack interactive graphics unit, a breaking news desk. None of this existed before we moved to Victoria in 2006. What new approaches have you adopted in managing editorial teams? A leader in this era of publishing needs to have three qualities: great old school journalism skills (gets the story right: well written, accurate, ideally a scoop), great digital journalism skills (uses digital tools to powerful effect: video, picture galleries, blogs, social media) and to be brilliant at planning (we are in a complex world: big events such as the Olympics or the Royal Wedding require months of planning to ensure there's time to organise the journalism but also build websites, apps). Being an editorial leader is, therefore, a totally different job to the one it was a decade ago.