Screenshot of Guardian's Comment Is Free site
Guardian.co.uk is looking to expand its Comment Is Free (CiF) section to cover countries outside of the UK and America, the paper's digital chief has said.

Emily Bell, director of digital content for Guardian News and Media, told Journalism.co.uk that expanding CiF internationally was 'in some ways the natural thing for us to do'.

CiF for other English-speaking countries are most likely, she said, though these could take the form of sub-categories on a main site rather than being launched as separate destinations.

A source at the paper told Journalism.co.uk that plans were afoot to launch comment desks for India and Brazil under the supervision of Georgina Henry, who is executive comment editor at the title.

While Bell said there was currently 'nothing concrete' in place for launching new comment desks, she admitted that the potential to expanded the CiF model internationally was there.

Since the launch of Guardian America last October, Bell said American content on CiF had been actively increased and that this model could be expanded further.

"The philosophy of what we've done and how you engage not only the professional commentariat but also the pro-am commentariat and commenters around that is something that we think could have wider application than in just the UK and America," she said.

"It's a format that you might look at exporting to other countries, but at the moment we are more likely to be looking at the English-speaking world than we are at the non-English speaking world.

"We don't have at the moment a launch plan or a headcount against it yet, what we do have is we've identified that CiF is one of the areas that we think is most exportable."

Any expansion would likely be made to existing strands of CiF, Bell added, for example creating a section to cover The Americas rather than just America.

It is likely that south-east Asia would also be considered as part of any potential plans, she said.

Extending the channel internationally would be consistent with the paper's principles and strategy to become 'leading liberal voice' in the world.

"That's pretty much been the job of the blogosphere in a lot of places so far and what's not really happened is that a mainstream publisher - whether digital or not - has managed to get real traction around some of these conversations," said Bell.

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