Tuesday 16 November 2021
I don’t see how signing the UK Armed Services Covenant can in any way be reconciled with the company’s principles of independence and freedom from bias.
During my years at Reuters I found that the Trust Principles guided all company business and behaviour - quietly and without fanfare, but also implacably. We’ve read accounts in these columns of how journalists in danger were shielded by them, saving their freedom, even their lives. I know (also from personal experience) how they give Reuters editors the backbone to withstand pressure from angry government officials or company executives. The principles helped turn Reuters into something like a stateless, supra-national news organisation that was almost universally, if sometimes grudgingly, respected and trusted. At budget time, Editorial often invoked the “spare no effort” Trust Principle to secure investment in news services. On occasion, the principles also served to keep at bay hostile predators circling the company after a share price plunge.
For some years now these principles are being trumpeted more loudly, proudly, publicly than ever before: each one of the thousands of Reuters daily news stories mentions them, and references appear, almost ad nauseam, in many other company communications. It is ironic that they should sustain such damage when they’re being advertised so assiduously. ■