© Jude Edginton/Redux, for The New York Times Alan Rusbridger
You've played piano since you were a child, and you've written about parallels between this pursuit and digital news. Can you explain that?

Amateur music-making used to be very commonplace and was valued in its own right. When recorded sound came along, most people became the passive receivers of other people's music. I do think that mirrors something that's going on in journalism at the moment, which is that anybody can blog, anybody can tweet, anybody can write and publish.

You've said you want to make The Guardian a platform as well as a publisher. Is this an effort to tap into that?

Absolutely. For years, news organizations had a quasi monopoly on information simply because we had the means of distribution. I think if as a journalist you are not intensely curious about what has been created by people who are not journalists, then you're missing out on a lot.

But you also have to maintain The Guardian's credibility.

Yes, obviously. But as long as the reader can see for themselves which writer is ours and which is not, then I think it's fine. Glenn Greenwald is an interesting voice. He is not a Guardian reporter, but what he writes is interesting. If we hadn't have hired him, we wouldn't have gotten Edward Snowden. Small things lead to big things.

Were you surprised at how critical some American journalists were of Greenwald?

It's a story that polarizes people. But I think there wasa strand of American reaction to him that said, You're not a proper journalist, you are just a blogger. I think that misses the point. He got the biggest story of the year, if not the decade.

In the Guardian reporter Luke Harding's book about the Snowden files, he says American journalists are too deferential to government sources. Do you agree?

I think America has some of the best newspapers and journalists in the world. I don't think Britain is in any position to lecture the rest of the world on that.

He wrote in The Guardian that words were disappearing from his screen as he was writing about the N.S.A. Has anything like that happened to you?

Odd things have happened, but the trouble is, you sound paranoid if you talk about them. We have assumed that a number of people might be trying to monitor what we've been doing, so we've done our best to take precautions. One thing that Snowden has taught us journalists is that it's essential to be paranoid.

During a parliamentary hearing on the Snowden leaks, you were asked if you love your country.

I wasn't expecting that. I believe you can love your country precisely because it is the sort of democracy that allows newspapers to write this kind of thing. And I would love my country less if it were the sort of country that destroyed journalistic material or locked up journalists or used the law in a heavy-handed way.

In the Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking story, there wasn't widespread outrage until the revelation that a murdered girl's voice mail had been listened to. Does the N.S.A. story need to be humanized?

I think most people don't really understand the technology. It all seems so big and abstract. The one thing Edward Snowden hasn't produced, because I don't think that this was the kind of material he was handling, is outrageous examples of this being misused.

Did you think Murdoch would close News of the World?

There was lots of journalism in News of the World that I thought was rather brutal, but we never anticipated that our reporting was going to lead to its closing. I think even Murdoch now says that it was something like an overreaction. But it was his choice, not ours.

So, like a salon?

Yes. The more digital the world becomes, the more appetite people have for real things.