British newspaper The Guardian is setting up shop in Australia. Managing editor David Donovan takes a look at The Guardian and considers what it will mean for media in this country.
Scott campaigned through his paper, for example, against the Second Boer War, against British repression in Ireland and for women's suffrage.
C.P. Scott died on New Year's Day 1932 and ownership of the paper went jointly to Scott's sons Edward and John.
Less than four months later, Edward, the editor after taking over from his father in 1929, died in a sailing accident in the Lakes District. For the next few years, it looked like the paper could go under through the imposition of death duties.
In a fit of selfless genius, John Scott set up the Scott Trust to administer the Guardian, protect its assets from future death duties and preserve its editorial independence from the sweaty, self-interested, hands of future proprietors. In a resounding validation of the righteous path taken by John Scott, The Guardian recently scooped the world when it took the leading role in exposing the shameful actions of Rupert Murdoch's News International in the phone hacking scandal that led to the Leveson Inquiry and a swag of criminal convictions — with yet more still to come.
The Trust was dissolved and reconstituted in 1948, at which time John Scott gave up his exclusive right to appoint trustees, with trustees taking upon the responsibility to appoint new members themselves. And since then, a Guardian journalist has always been a member of the Trust.
In 2008, the Scott Trust Ltd replaced the Scott Trust, though its objectives and administration appear to be the same as the previous entity.
Wikipedia says the following about the responsibilities, objectives and functions of the Scott Trust today:
The Trust is responsible for appointing the editor of The Guardian (and those of the group's other main newspapers) but apart from enjoining them to continue the paper's editorial policy on "the same lines and in the same spirit as heretofore", has a policy of not interfering in their decisions. This arrangement tends to give editors a long tenure - for example, the present incumbent, Alan Rusbridger, has been there since 1995....
In 1992, the Trust identified its central objective as being the following:
To secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
The Trust sees its main functions as being the following:
- To secure the Trust's own continuity by renewing its membership and by dealing with threats to its existence;
- To monitor the organisation, financial management and overall strategy of the Group, holding the board accountable for its performance;
- To appoint and 'in extreme circumstances' to dismiss the editors of The Guardian and The Observer,
- To act as a 'court of appeal' in the event of any dispute between the editorial and managerial sides of the operation.
The Guardian is a worthy – though still a profit-seeking – institution.
It has entered the Australian market, without doubt, because it has seen – like IA has – that the conservative and News Ltd dominated nature of all Australia's mainstream media, including the ABC under the (mal)administration of former Liberal Party staffer Mark Scott, leaves a lot of news in Australia poorly reported, many scandals uncovered, and many news consumers unrepresented and, therefore, highly disaffected. In effect, there is yawning gap in the Australian market that any sensible and rational investor would seek to plug.
So deep is this niche, IA believes there is plenty of room for a canny operator like The Guardian to operate in the Australian marketplace as well as IA. Indeed, as organisations sharing a similar philosophy, we welcome the opportunity to work with The Guardian on mutually acceptable projects in the future.
Of course, it should not be forgotten that for all its laudable qualities, The Guardian will always be a foreign owned publication and so not truly the voice of an Independent Australia.
There will still only be one place where you'll really be able to find that.
(The Guardian is, like IA, a republican publication, and also one known for its wit and satire. For one of its best ever April Fool's jokes, perpetrated on one of Australia's most conceited and pompous monarchists, please click here.)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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