There’s nothing like competition to shake things up.
With Mint, the business daily of the Hindustan Times group, making editorial ethics and integrity its unique selling proposition, the competition justifiably has ants in its pants.
Witness this letter from the editorial head of a leading business paper to all staff.
In our over-enthusiasm to break exclusive stories, we can’t compromise on the due diligence process we have in place for such scoops. In order to avoid egg on our face, I recommend that come hell or high water, we will NOT carry stories without the following safeguards.
1. A formal, written email or/and fax to the CEO and corp com of the company or companies involved. Take today’s story on Bxxxxx-9x— a written questionnaire has to be sent to both companies and their views incorporated in FULL. Even if one side has confirmed the story, I want the email sent to all companies involved. I hope this is as LOUD as it is CLEAR. I am really going to take strong action if this is not followed from now on. If it means MISSING a story, so be it. And this applies to private companies and PSUs alike.
2. We have to give at least 24 hours to a company to respond. You can’t really hold a gun to the CEO’s head if you’ve sent the WRITTEN questionnaire at 2 pm or later and hope to have all answers by 8 pm. Forget it. Again, let’s MISS the story rather than compromise on the editorial process.
The next time there’s a deviation from this norm, I promise you that I am going to straightaway lop off 25% from TVP—and I don’t really care who the reporter or bureau chief or editor in question is. The issue here is not getting the story wrong, but of the PROCESS not being followed. If this happens more often, I would not hesitate in taking stronger action.