Richard Burton, web editor of was the UK's first newspaper to make the leap online and celebrated its ten-year anniversary this month.

Web editor Richard Burton left a lifetime in print to lead the Telegraph website - and hasn't looked back since.

How did you begin working online? It was an accident. I'd worked in print for more than 24 years, and worked through the provinces on regional papers. I moved to Fleet Street with a senior job on the back bench of the Telegraph news desk, and eventually left to work on the management of start-up magazine company Parkhill with Eve Pollard.

When the company ran short of funding I found myself footloose and as I had been a stalwart of the Telegraph for many years and this was the most senior job on offer at that time, I went for it. The instant I walked into the newsroom I was struck by the energy and enthusiasm of the people there - and I've been hooked ever since.

Do you think news organisations have been slow to adapt to the challenges of the internet? I don't think they have. Everyone piled in quite quickly behind us.

A lot of newspapers, particularly regional newspapers, have perhaps been a bit slow but they have more than made up for it. I have judged the Press Gazette regional journalism awards and those sites have had fantastic content. They have learnt very quickly how to use the web and develop it as a resource for their communities.

But there is a huge problem for local papers and circulations are declining. They are in need of that American thing where they get a consultant in! I read local newspapers all the time but quality has suffered as they have cut budgets.

I meet a lot of people when I'm teaching at universities and often quote quote local newspapers as an excellent example of how not to do things online.

It is essential to have a strong web presence. Yes - the internet poses a threat to newspapers, but I think this is only part of the problem.

If you are a newspaper losing readers it is not because of your website but because of the internet in general. I've never seen the argument that the website is taking readers away.

How do you think things will change in the next 10 years? There are infinite possibilities in the next 10 years. The immediacy and the reach into that infinite space is a thing that the Telegraph as a group couldn't have dreamed of 10 years ago. It's how to harness that potential in a corporate way.

What are you favourite websites? The BBC has got it - they are the standard bearer. They have a tremendous expertise in all media and it's a natural extension for them online. They had a head start because of that expertise.

Basically, I look for three things. I like sites that are simple, take you by the hand and do what they say on the tin. Google is one of the best examples around - my Mum could navigate that.

Innovative sites such as that use graphics and moving images well are impressive. It's so easy to get this wrong and lose yourself (and the readers) in technology.

Nice-looking well-branded sites such as have a good sense of place.

I use the CIA's World Factbook as a quick reference guide occasionally and like the way everything's ordered, unfussy but strongly stylised.

Incidentally, I hate journalistic sites that let journalism down: those full of repetition and meaningless headlines that look like the worst of the early freesheets. The kind that carry stories that would never see the light of day in print.

How has the web product changed the Telegraph brand? One of this newspaper's strengths is its brand. Our website is generating content that still conforms heavily to the newspaper brand and stylistically it is the same - but the idea was to publish in a new format.

We tried to resist the idea that the web is more avant garde version of a newspaper. We still promote ourselves as the country's major broadsheet newspaper and we are primarily a newspaper with a website. Any newspaper-related website is a brand extension.

Newspapers are caught between representing their brand and struggling with a new medium. has a lot of readers from the States where they don't have much of a national press. Many of the big hitting political writers are in the UK, and we can't be beaten on the quality of our journalism and comment, as well as our neutrality.

Dan Gillmor's idea about the explosion of new writers and contributors online worries me a bit, because there is serious disparity in the quality of information online. Something that someone reads on the internet could be the equivalent to reading a note in a shop window.

What has been the biggest achievement of Our innovation, and having the courage and foresight to do it.

My predecessors Ben Rooney and Derek Bishton were a very strong team and really sold the idea to Lord Black. Once they realised you could publish online, they pushed the idea very hard.

One thing about the 9/11 week was that the internet became the absolute publishing medium. We were able to serve 600 requests per second - our server stayed up and we were able to get the news out.

That was the biggest story of my lifetime unfolding in front of my eyes. No print title could ever supply news like that, and broadcast is not a medium that is in every workplace.

What will be the biggest difference in online news in 10 years' time? What has happened with new technology in the past 10 years has been breathtaking.

I have no illusions that the web will be far closer to TV.

What advice would you give to new web journalists? We're seeing a new crop of journalists as we are inundated with the demands of online media courses. There's been a huge explosion which I'll always resist - my journalists are always NCTJ trained. Anyone under 25 these days is computer proficient, but computer skills are not as important as journalism skills.

Using application technology is second nature and kids today know how to use everything.

I was working in Fleet Street under Eddy Shah in 1984. We were called a new 'super breed of journalist' because of the technology we were using - but it was all hype! We were just doing direct input jobs that secretaries had been doing.

I look for NCTJ qualifications and experience on a couple of evening papers when someone is looking for a slot casualling in Fleet Steet.

When I advertise I'm always really disappointed by the number of applicants that say 'I don't have any journalism experience but I'm a real whizz'. They have no understanding of what journalism is about.

More dotJournalism Q&As:
Alisa Bowen, head of
Tom Regan, executive director of the Online News Association
Peggy White, general manager of
Steve Outing, senior editor at the Poynter Institute
Laura Hayes, editor of
Rafat Ali, publisher of
Alex White (formerly Alex Daley), head of the UK’s Association of Online Publishers
Yvonne Ridley, award-winning journalist
Tree Elven, web editor of
Tracy Corrigan, editor of
Anthony Gottlieb, executive editor of
Martin Nisenholtz, CEO of New YorkTimes Digital
Richard Withey, global director of interactive media, Independent News & Media Group
Mike Smartt, former editor-in-chief of BBC News Interactive

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