In 1966-7 my Dad got a job as a young reporter for the Daily Mail’s Manchester office, just as it was made Newspaper of the Year. All staff received the memo below from editor Mike Randall.
When Dad sent it to me, he added: “Mike Randall left the paper soon afterwards. It became a tabloid and in ethical terms its downhill slide began. However, I think Randall’s statement still stands as the model of propriety to which all journalists working for all media should aspire.”
I couldn’t agree more – and it’s certainly how I’d hope people expect writers to behave. I’d add though that in the 15 years I’ve been writing, I haven’t noticed nearly as much awareness of the dangers of libel, sensationalism and indiscretion in young journos as was drilled into [my generation of] pre-internet trainees. I don’t think Twitter and the pressure of instant comment helps much though.
1. No member of the staff intrudes or is called to intrude into private lives where no public interest is involved.
2. No ordinary member of the public is lured, coerced or in any way pressed by a Daily Mail representative into giving an interview or picture which he is clearly unwilling to give.
3. It remains our duty at all times to expose the fraud and reveal the mountebank wherever public interest is involved.
4. In the reporting of Divorce Cases we use our own and not the Judge’s discretion. We give details only where the case and the summing up are of valid legal or public interest. We do not at at any time carry reports which merely hold either party up to ridicule or reveal aspects of their private lives which cannot be any concern of the public.
5. No member of the Daily Mail invents quotes or uses subterfuge to obtain quotes.
6. We are not in business to suppress news. Where anybody is guilty of withholding information that ought to be made public we use every legitimate method to give our readers that information.
7. Daily Mail staff do not allow themselves to be used as vehicles for the promotion of publicity stunts which have no legitimate news value.
8. Anyone who works for the Daily Mail should be watchdog of ours standards and a person who commands public respect.