Amid all the internecine strife over who in the family will (or won’t) get to occupy the editorial gaddi, the 12-member board of directors of The Hindu have managed to adopt a code of editorial values, although Mail Today reports that the new nine-point code has not been unanimously adopted by the board.
1. The greatest asset of The Hindu, founded in September 1878, is trust. Everything we do as a company revolves, and should continue to revolve, round this hard-earned and inestimable long-term asset. The objective of codification of editorial values is to protect and foster the bond of trust between our newspapers and their readers.
2. The Company must continue to protect the integrity of the newspapers it publishes, their editorial content, and the business operations that sustain and help grow the newspapers.
3. Our editorial values are rooted in the guiding principles The Hindu set out with and communicated to its readers in ‘Ourselves,’ the editorial published in its inaugural issue of September 20, 1878. The world has changed but the principles remain vital for us: fairness and justice. The founding editorial also announces the aim of promoting ‘harmony’ and ‘union’ (unity) among the people of India and a secular editorial policy of maintaining the ‘strictest neutrality’ in matters relating to religion while offering fair criticism and comment ‘when religious questions involve interests of a political and social character.’
4. The core editorial values, universally accepted today by all trustworthy newspapers and newspaper-owning companies, are truth-telling, freedom and independence, fairness and justice, good responsible citizenship, humaneness, and commitment to the social good. Practising these values requires, among other things, the Company’s journalists excelling in the professional disciplines, and especially the discipline of verifying everything that is published. It requires our journalists to maintain independence from those they cover, be fair and just in their news coverage, and avoid conflicts of interest. It means being interesting and innovative, and learning and mastering new ways and techniques of storytelling and presentation of editorial content in this digital age so as to engage readers and promote a lively and mutually beneficial conversation with them. Above all, it means the uncompromising practice of editorial integrity. The Company must endeavour to provide in its publications a fair and balanced coverage of competing interests, and to offer the readers diverse, reasonable viewpoints, subject to its editorial judgment.
5. The Company is fully committed to these values, so that the business and editorial departments and actions, while operating by their own distinctive rules, are on the same page. The two sides must work together closely on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation and in the spirit of living these values in a contemporary sense.
6. The Company recognises that good journalism cannot survive, develop, and flourish unless it is viable and commercially successful.
7. Any potential conflict of interest within the Company will be resolved keeping in mind these values. Among other things, this involves raising the standards of transparency and disclosure in accordance with the best contemporary norms and practices in the field.
8. It is necessary to set and communicate internally and to the public clear standards of journalistic integrity and performance, corporate governance, and business practice.
9. There is no wall but there is a firm line between the business operations of the Company and editorial operations and content. Pursuant to the above-mentioned values and objectives, it is necessary to create a professionalism in the editorial functioning independent of Shareholder interference so as to maintain an impartiality, fairness, and objectivity in editorial and journalistic functioning.