Friday, 26 June 2015

`Arre yaar', `churidar' enter Oxford lexicon

Priyanka Dasgupta

Arre yaar' is no longer just Indian. The two words that could denote anything from `hey buddy' to `you got to be kidding me' in desi street lingo are among the new Indian words accepted by Oxford English Dictionary -along with `churidar', `bhelpuri' and `dhaba'.
“Our language research programme has found sufficient evidence that these words are being used in English for a reasonable amount of time and with reasonable frequency , and are of specific cultural, historical or linguistic significance. `Arre', for instance, has quite a long history in English, with its first quotation dating back to 1845,“ said Danica Salazar, consultant editor, Oxford English Dictionary , OUP.
`Churidar' was first spotted in English usage as early as 1880. It took 135 years to officially make it to the English language. The Oxford dictionary defines `churidar' as `tight trousers made with excess material at the bottom of the legs, which falls in folds around the ankles, traditionally worn by people from South Asia'. `Dhaba' has been included as a noun and is explained as `In India or in Indian contexts: a roadside food stall or restaurant'. 

When a smartly worded obit exposed death of democracy

When a smartly worded obit exposed death of democracy

“O'Cracy , D.E.M.beloved husband of T. Ruth loving father of L.I. Bertie brother of Faith, Hope and Justicia, expired on June 26.It was a small obit, only 22 words long, which came out among the classified ads in the Times of India on June 28, 1975, three days after the Emergency was declared.
Seemingly innocuous at first glance, the words escape censure from the clerk at the TOI office in Bombay . But when carefully read, they turned out to be a sly expression of dissent against the imposition of the Emergency .
Forty years ago, journalist Ashok Mahadevan, only 26 years old then, used subterfuge and smarts to register his protest against censorship typifying those dark days of democracy in post-independent India.
Mahadevan, who used to work for Reader's Digest then, had come across a brief news item of similar nature in the popular magazine. The filler, originally published in a Sri Lankan newspaper, ran into several paragraphs. Not surprising when you consider that the first half of the 1970s was marred by violent internal strife leading to an Emergency-like situation for several years.
“That item spurred me to action. I copied the whole ad and took it to the TOI office.The clerk's only objection was that it was too long. I condensed it on the spot. I paid less than Rs 20, though it wasn't such an insignificant amount those days,“ recalls Mahadevan, who went on o become the editor of the Indian edition of the Reader's Digest. Having pulled off the act, the young journalist eagerly waited for the next day's edition of the newspaper. Mahadevan was pleased when he saw the ad but he wanted more people to know about it.
“I didn't want to disclose my identity . So I changed my voice and spoke about the ad to Ramesh Chandran, a journalist with the TOI then, on phone. He saw it and immediately understood what it was all about. I guess he spread the word,“ says the Mumbaibased journalist.
Soon, the ad became a talking point among journalists and the janata. Everyone seemed to admire the sheer ingeniousness of the idea. Even Wall Street Journal took note.
“The police tried to find out about the mischief maker. But they got nowhere. In any case, very few people knew that it was me,“ he told TOI on phone.“There was one small problem though. The clerk could have identified me. And I was shortly scheduled to appear for a TV show with my wife. So I shaved off my beard,“ the senior journalist remembers.
Even today Mahadevan's small note of dissent is remembered with fondness. “I know my protest did not make any impact on the protagonists of the Emergency . But I hope it will be a footnote in books on the subject,“ he says.
New Delhi:

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Press Institute-Red Cross competition for best features and Photographs

Following from Mr. Shashi Nair, Press Institute of India:

Like in the past few years, the Press Institute of India (PII), Chennai, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), New Delhi, are together organising a competition for the best three articles and the three best pictures on a humanitarian subject.

The article or photograph should have been published in an Indian national

or regional newspaper or magazine between April 2014 and March 2015 and can be in any Indian language or in English. The participating candidate will

have to produce proof of his or her article having been published.

The theme for this year is Reporting on the fate of victims of natural/ man-made disasters. The top three prizes in each category are worth Rs 50,000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively.

Last year's (2014) prize winners for the best articles were Sohini Chattopadhyay (Open Magazine), Lakshmi Subramanian (The Week), and Pervez Majeed (Sahara Times) and Sumir Karmakar (The Telegraph). In the Best Photograph category, photojournalist Pattabi Raman won the second prize while the third prize went to Manob Chowdhury of The Hindu. The first prize in the Best Photograph category was not awarded last year.


Please visit: Please contact:

call +91-9042231343, 9871798386 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

New Initiative of the PRCI

Masterstroke Interview with B.N.Kumar,National President,Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) - See more at:
Public Relations Council of India (PRCI), a premier industry body of PR, advertising, HR and media professionals and academicians, has appointed Concept PR Executive Director B N Kumar (BNK for friends) as its next national president. Earlier, BNK led Mumbai chapter of PRCI and was the national vice president. He has close to four decades of experience in mass communications as a journalist and PR professional. In the words of PRCI Chairman Emeritus and Chief Mentor M B Jayaram, “BNK has been taking active interest in furthering the cause of our oganisation and he led two successful Global Communication Conclaves at Mumbai.” “As the programme committee chairman of the just concluded 9th Conclave, he played an exemplary role in ensuring its success.”
In this free and frank exclusive interview with Richa Seth, BNK, who has close to four decades of Media and PR experience, talks about his vision for PRCI and the industry. Excerpts:
1. In your new role, what are the initiatives that you would like to undertake? Please elaborate?
I firmly believe in inclusive communication. I would like to involve all of PRCI chapters. We have quite a few initiatives on hand.  In Mumbai, we floated a Guest Faculty pool for mass communication colleges which, as we all know, have teacher shortage. Experienced professionals from our pool will be sent to colleges on request to give practical training to PR and journalism students. We are glad to have some fine journalists in our pool. We would now like to spread this across major centres.
During the 9th Global Communication Conclave, we received a suggestion to help private and public sector companies train their new PR professionals. We are ready to take this up. As they say in Sanskrit, ‘Spardhaya Vardhanti Vidya’ (Knowledge improves by discussion). At PRCI we have initiated Knowledge Forums. We would like to further this by holding seminars and discussions on current issues that confront the media and communication industry. Along with the Press Club-Mumbai and BARC, we did couple of media seminars on Radiation and Urban Garbage Management.
Yes, I must tell you about our unique e-mag. It’s neither weekly, nor monthly or quarterly. It’s online and gets updated on a 24×7 basis. PRapport  or has quickly caught the imagination of communication professionals in India and abroad. Here, we report not only on PRCI activities, but discuss issues related to our profession.
We have  a youth wing called YCC  or Young Communicators Club which provides a platform for journalism and PR students to strengthen their knowledge. Our target is to spread YCC activities to all BMM and other mass communication colleges.
2. As the adage goes, ‘PR has a PR problem’, how do you think PRCI can help to build the reputation and value of PR among C level executives?
Rapport is the solution. As you said, we also suffer from communication problems. Most of us do not communicate. We cannot afford to function in isolation. This is where the top management participation in our programmes significance. We will continue to communicate with the C level executives through Corporate Communications and HR professionals who are our members. Simultaneously, we will focus on corporate memberships and their participation. We have couple of other initiatives. You will soon see action. Please keep a watch on
3. What are the initiatives that PRCI will take to connect with the youth community and get them more involved? 
We already discussed the YCC initiative.  We would like partner other forums like Mediaforum. We also have advanced skill training programmes for the upcoming professionals. This generation is blessed with technology. We would like to use it to the hilt. We also have awards for young professionals to encourage their talent. In a first of its kind initiative, we would like to support the BMM and other PR and journalism colleges with internships at our member companies.
4. Largely PR industry bodies are often seen as populated with members of PSUs, what will be your strategy to get members from across the board?
We firmly believe in going with both public and private sector companies. You can see from the response that we get for the various programmes and awards – both PSUs and private companies respond well. If you look at PRCI’s signature Chanakya Award winners in various categories, you will realize that PRCI is for all sectors – PSU, private, SME and even startups.
5. Could you share details about the advanced skill development modules that PRCI is planning to launch for private and public sector companies?
Good question. We will draw resources from across and help companies make their new and young PR professionals industry ready. Everyone knows about media and nobody knows media enough. With this in mind, we can run media familiarization programmes on what makes news and what doesn’t, what to expect from media, how to write press releases, the importance of online media and so on. We are developing PRraport into a web site which will also serve as a knowledge forum.
6. What do you think are the challenges faced by the PR industry today and how can it be overcome?
Challenges are quite a few. There is no fun in working without any challenge. On a serious note, I think the biggest challenge is the credibility. We are at cross roads of credibility in view of the recent developments which I need not name. Corporate governance, transparency and ethical practices are among the issues that confront us as communication practitioners. Designing media acceptable communication is another challenge.
Every company wants its news in Times of India and The Economic Times. Even I would like this interview to appear in top papers. Is it possible? Everybody wants to be a Thought Leader. They need to realize that it doesn’t happen overnight. Many companies and their Corporate Communications departments lay so much of stress on English media that the overkill proves counterproductive. Many often neglect the regional media. We do business in rural India but when it comes to media, all of us want the news only on English media. Also, we need to impress upon the corporates that PR should be used as an interface and not as an interference tool.
In these days when scams are the flavour of the season, getting a negative story stopped from getting into print or breaking news is just impossible. As we say in our media training sessions, ‘Asking a journalist to kill a story is like asking him not to do his job’. Managements need to be educated on this. Close rapport between Corporate Communication professionals and journalists is a must. To give you an example, we had Prasar Bharati Chairman, General Secretary of the Editors’ Guild of India and Director General of Cellular Operators’ Association of India addressing the PRCI’s 9th Global Communication Conclave at Delhi. Our rapport with the media can be exemplified from the fact that late Vinod Mehta inaugurated PRCI ten years ago at Bengaluru. And, year on year, we have been having senior journalists like Arnab Goswami, Rajdeep Sardesai, Chandan Mitra, later M V Kamath, Kumar Ketkar, Barkha Dutt, Prakash Akolkar and Ayaz Memon participating in our programmes.
7. Your advice for the youngsters in the industry?
Many of our young professionals do not read. Though they are blessed with Google, they try short cuts. Many even do not know how to write mails and whom to address their communication. For instance, what is the point in sending the press release about an obscure award to the Managing Editor of Business India? And the, these young kids call him up and ask: “Sir which beat do you cover?” As late Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told us during the inauguration of the Press Club building, young media persons, particularly from TV channels do not how to ask questions. Don’t we remember the infamous case of a TV journalist asking the Union Home Minister, after taking his byte: Sir what is your name and designation?! The same is applicable to PR professionals too. How many of our young PR professionals know that Eenadu is published from Mumbai and Delhi as well? How many of us realize that even the less circulated newspapers are read by the editors of large papers? I may be sounding harsh but the hard reality is we don’t like to do any hard work and we always try for shortcuts.
 8. Finally, as a veteran of close to four decades of experience, what do you think is the future of PR industry?
Man is a social animal. We cannot live without communicating. PR industry is evolving by the day and I firmly believe that this industry has a great scope. And we at PRCI would like to play the role of a catalyst in making the industry play a meaningful role in the country’s socio-economic change. If India has to emerge as the Numero Uno nation by 2025, PR has to play its role across the board – industry, governments, urban areas and villages.
- See more at:

10 Tips for Winning International PR Awards

Following is from Mr. C K Sardana, Bhopal
I am reproducing the ten tips because most of these are applicable to Journalism and Communication research also:

Ten Tips for Winning International PR Awards

June 23, 2015 vikram Opinions, Public Relations, Vikypedia Exclusives

Recently I was fortunate to have attended PR Week Asia Awards in Hong Kong, where I had an opportunity to interact with various Asia Pacific PR leaders as well as the juries. From these interactions and a specific panel, discussing ‘what are the most important elements that makes a winning case’, I am putting forward 10 tips that can help you win an international honor.

§ Think campaign: while we routinely work towards meeting client’s communications objectives, we need to think from a campaign perspective right at the beginning of the year. Identify clients and specific area to focus around which a creative PR campaign can be developed. A good case cannot be created just before the awards submission. There has to be a concentrated thinking, focus and long term approach to build a really powerful case.

§ Strictly follow the rules: one of the most common frustrations of judges is that many entries just don’t follow the rules mentioned in the entry form, such as word count, formats of supporting materials etc. Many good campaigns get disqualified only for not following the rules.

§ Senior members of the team should dedicate their time in enhancing the quality of entries, writing a winning case requires a lot of experience, intelligence and creative bent of mind.

§ Clear objectives: Good entries should have well-crafted objectives and outcomes should reflect that they were really met

§ Budgeting: Even if you have worked on a shoe-string budget, your entries should reflect how well it was utilized

§ Focus on business results – entries that demonstrate achievement of unequivocal business results stand-out amongst others

§ Integrated approach: entries built solely on the strength of media relations, fall out as judges look at a more integrated, multi-faced campaigns that was successful in engaging all stakeholders

§ Add a context: In the international arena, judges come from various countries and backgrounds and hence it becomes imperative to add a context to your campaign. For example: success of a local business through PR may not be of high significance to judges from developed countries or from the region where such businesses have been traditionally successful

§ Client Endorsement: entries that have been endorsement by clients’ scores as it reflects that your clients are happy with your work and it has made difference to their business.

§ Tell the truth: Be honest in your claims as you may be asked to submit proofs for your claims and not being able to submit one can bring a lot of embarrassment to you and your organizations.

So go ahead and participate, there are many international awards where you can send your entries, atleast let’s attempt. We may be doing much better work than our international counter parts but for some reasons we shy away from demonstrating our work to the outside world. Now is the time, let’s make India proud by dishing out quality work from our region and set a benchmark for the world.

- See more at:

Friday, 19 June 2015

Post Doctoral Fellowship in Social Sciences including Communication and Journalism date extended to June 30

Following from Prof. Usha Rani,

we have notified for the PDF Post Doctoral Fellowship in Social Sciences including Communication and Journalism in the website of the university of Mysore under the template Latest News or in the project website, 

We are planning to extend the last date till June 30.

please give wide publicity to this notification as it is rare to have PDF in C & J.

prof.usha rani
Dept. of Communication and Journalism
university of Mysore

please contact 

usha rani

Thursday, 11 June 2015

`Headless body in topless bar': Author of iconic headline dies


Headline writers are a damned lot. The time is tight, wordage limited, and against the ticking of the clock and constraints of space, they have to confect a headline that captures, accurately , the substance of the story , however long and complex the narrative might be.They don't always succeed, and complaints are many . Bill Gates grumbled that the “bad news is a headline, and gradual improvement is not,“ and President Johnson once twitted editors, saying that if he walked alongside the Potomac River in the morning, the headline that afternoon would read: “President Can't Swim.“
Vincent Musetto, the New York Post headline writer who died of cancer in New York City on Tuesday at age 74, was justly famous for a headline of matchless brevity and pith. It came to define obituaries and tributes that flowed for him. HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR, described by the New York Times as the “most anatomically evocative headline in the history of American journalism,“ was exactly about what it said -a headless body in a topless bar.
The details of the story have been rendered inconsequential because of the legendary status the headline acquired, comparable to that of the apocryphal “Nut Screws and Bolts“ (about the mental asylum inmate who escapes after a sexual assault).Roughly , it involved a man who got into a drunken brawl at a bar in Queens that eventually led to the decapitation of the owner's head. Musetto's headline simply cut to the chase.
In part, the brevity of Vincent Musetto's headline was forced by the newspaper format and style.
The New York Post was (and remains) a tabloid, and the headline per se had to be crisp, compact, and crackling. In contrast, the rather tedious headline for the same April 13, 1983 story in the New York Times read “Owner of a Bar Shot to Death; Suspect Is Held.“ It coyly avoided mentioning toplessness and the decapitation was mentioned only in the third para.
In years to come, “Headless Body in Top Less Bar“ acquired cult status, celebrated in T-Shirts and becoming the title of Hollywood movie.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Guidelines for Research Publications of University of Pune

Thanks to my colleague at FLAME University, Prof. Manoj Kumar, I am now in a position to tell you that the University of Pune has placed its entire report on home of the university's website 

Do please read, comment and circulate the report among teachers and researchers known to you.

(here is my previous blog: )

Kiran Thakur

(Here is what Prof Manoj Kumar said in his mail:

PFA full report of a Committee appointed by the Pune university to design guidelines for the research publications. The mandate of the committee was to come up with guidelines so as to discourage its faculty members from taking short cuts by resorting to publishing in small online open-access/money-making journals and other such periodicals published by the dubious/spurious/bogus/predatory publishers.

A news item about the report is shared by Prof. Kiran Thakur on his blog:

Hope this may interest you.
Manoj Kumar, Ph.D (IIT, Bombay)
Tel (Office): +91-20-67906128
Mobile: +91-7757011202)

Monday, 1 June 2015

Alan Rasbridger steps down as Guardian Editor after two decades at the helm

Following from Mahesh Vijapurkar;

Alan Rasbridger's last piece as Guardian Editor

Alan Rusbridger

This, if you’re reading the physical paper – which, of course, you are not – is my last edition as editor. In just over 20 years we have put nearly 7,500 papers “to bed”, as almost no one says nowadays. At some point in the 24-hour, seamlessly rolling digital news cycle, you’ll have a new editor. I will have slipped away and my successor, Katharine Viner, will have materialised at the helm.
Since 1821 there have been just 10 editors of the Guardian – or 11 if you count Russell Scott Taylor, the 18-year-old who helped edit for a brief period in the 1840s. The greatest of them, CP Scott, managed 57 years in the hot seat. His son, Ted, drowned on Windermere only three years into his stint. Twenty years is, give or take, about the average.
The paper I joined in 1979 felt in some ways like a family firm, and in a sense, it still is. I started on the same July Monday as Nick Davies, who went on to become one of the finest reporters of his generation. His career led him into investigations, mine initially into descriptive reporting, columns and features. From the day I arrived, the Guardian felt like a warm bath – a place of sanctuary for free thought and writing.
And I was very firmly a writer: it never occurred to me that I would ever edit any bit of the Guardian, let alone be let loose on the whole thing. I even left at one point, to take my writing elsewhere. But in late 1988 the Guardian badly needed a Weekend magazine to answer the rather brilliant Saturday glossy that had just been launched by the Independent. For some reason, Peter Preston, the Guardian’s then editor, asked me to do it.
I had been diverted down a different journalistic path – one that would lead me, via the launch of G2 in 1992, to take over the editor’s chair on 13 January 1995. I knew enough of the Guardian’s history to feel utterly overawed by the responsibility. Please, please let me not drop the vase.
But, of course, the Guardian is much bigger than any one editor. A rival kindly took me out to lunch soon after I started and reassured me: “If I take a day off, there are six assistant editors who have a completely different view of what my paper should be. If you take the day off, the building itself would produce the Guardian.”
He was right. There is – through a combination of cultural osmosis, ownership and watchful readers – an incredibly strong shared idea of what the Guardian is, even if the job is to reinterpret it for each generation, “in the same spirit as heretofore”.
My first edition appeared the following day, as if nothing had happened, with the splash headline: “EU moves to tighten frontiers”. Plus ca change.
During the first 170-odd years of the Guardian’s life there were, of course, enormous challenges and changes, not least the transformative decision to move from Manchester to London in 1964. But the essentials of newspaper life were the same in 1995, when I took over from Peter Preston, as they had been in 1821, when the paper was launched in response to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.
Stories were told in words and (more recently) pictures – still black and white, the “proper” medium for news 20 years ago. The rhythm of the day built up to one main deadline, around 9.30pm. We knew the cost of paper, ink, printing and distribution, and could flex the price of advertising, and of the newspaper itself. The readership was overwhelmingly in the UK, and if they ever wanted to get in touch, they did so by phone or letter. It was a world of known knowns.
Twenty years later, we swim in unknown unknowns. We still tell stories in text and pictures, but the words are as likely to be in the form of live blogs as stories. We have learned to use moving pictures as well as stills. We work in audio, interactives, data, graphics and any combination of the above. We distribute our journalism across multiple channels, platforms and devices, including live discussion and debate. We’re on the iWatch; we’re in bed with Facebook; we’re still in the corner shop.
Two thirds of our readership is now outside of the UK: we publish continuously. Virtually all our readers can themselves now be publishers and can connect with one another, and anyone else, as well as us. They contribute to the Guardian in ways that were unimaginable even 15 years ago.
On top of all that, we still produce a newspaper. Or, more precisely, two. The Observer, 30 years older than the Guardian, is in really good health under John Mulholland.
The economic model of what we now do is still in its infancy. Twenty years ago, no one asked a newspaper editor about their business model. Now it’s one of the first questions. And, of course, the Guardian – though extremely financially secure today compared with many periods in its past – is no more immune than any of its rivals to the need to find a sustainable basis for what it does.
Some publishers have decided to erect walls around their digital content and insist on payment. The polar opposites are represented by the Guardian and the Times of London, the latter of which today claims a daily digital audience of around 281,000. In April the Guardian was read by more than 7 million unique browsers a day. On an equal accounting basis, we’re losing (or investing) about the same amount of money. You’ll have to come back in 10 or even 20 years time to find out who judged the future best. But the Guardian – still the eighth-biggest newspaper in the UK – is now vying with the New York Times for the mantle of largest serious English-language newspaper website in the world.
So much for the numbers. While sorting through 20 years’ worth of assorted papers in recent weeks – I’m a hoarder rather than a chucker – I made mental divisions for the past two decades. First came the Libel Years, during which it felt as if the Guardian was never out of one court or another. Almost as soon as I took over, there was a procession of MPs, cabinet ministers, lobbyists, cult-busters, quack doctors, corporations, police officers, banks and rich playboys queuing up to injunct or sue us.
There is – thank goodness – much less libel around these days, but those battles were often epic, costly and immensely time-consuming. If you won – which, mostly, we did – they could even be fun. Mostly, they were nerve-racking and exhausting. I’m not sorry to see the slow decline of the London libel industry, and hope that we, alongside other newspapers and free-speech organisations, played a small part in helping to finish it off. And a big thank you to all m’learned friends from over the years. You were expensive. But good.
Then came the first Internet Years, during which – under Ian Katz’s leadership – we created a website that didn’t fall into the trap of simply replicating online what we did in print. Ian and his team saw early on that this was a medium that was, in many important respects, quite different from print, and created a digital Guardian Unlimited that played by the new rules of the game.
Then there was an interlude with the print Format Wars – a response to the bold move by the Independent and Times to switch from broadsheet publishing to tabloid. The Indie even announced that it would henceforth be a “viewspaper”, not a newspaper – a startling declaration of intent that got lost in the excitement about size.
For various reasons – not least the amount of classified advertising we still took in print at that point – tabloid didn’t really work for us. We needed new presses anyway – the cost of any format was neutral – and opted for the European Berliner size.
The paper that took shape in the hands of designer Mark Porter and deputy editor Paul Johnson (and, at the Observer, with former editor Roger Alton) was a thing of beauty and flexibility. But, even as we installed the new Man Roland presses, we knew they were likely to be the last we ever bought. In retrospect, it’s not clear that the changes in printed format transformed the fortunes of anyone – big, little or medium.
The next phase was the Social Web, or Web 2.0, as it was first called. Emily Bell, by then editing our digital output and our resident seer, quickly pronounced this to be as important as the web itself. There was a fork in the road, she warned us: we could fence ourselves off from this social, economic, cultural and publishing revolution, or we could embrace it wholeheartedly. Open or closed? We went for open.
An early experiment was Comment Is Free, launched by Georgina Henry in 2006 as a way of immensely broadening and diversifying the pool of Guardian commentary – not just the “above the line” writers, but the hundreds of thousands of you who flooded in to debate and argue in a way that had never previously been possible.
We had to devise new rules and conventions. A new breed of journalist – comment moderators – was born in order to handle the avalanche of opinion. We had created a new democracy of expression, which was sometimes uncomfortable, but mostly rich and absorbing, and sometimes even exhilarating.Our most recent design, overseen by our head of digital strategy Wolfgang Blau, took this journey still further.
And, finally, there were the stories: about crooked bungs; politicians on the take; corporations dodging tax; toxic spills; unethical policing; lethal policing; torture and rendition; female mutilation; drugs; food production; pill-peddlers and much more.
Wikileaks, in 2010, felt, and was, enormous: the biggest leak of diplomatic and intelligence cables the world had then seen. But then came phone-hacking – Nick Davies’s extraordinary seven-year slog of reporting gradually shone a light on the crimes, evasions and deceptions of the most powerful news company in the world.
Davies’s reporting stopped a vast, ruthless media monopoly from effectively doubling in size – with all the consequences for power, democracy, regulation and even policing that went with that. The best defence that the Murdochs – son, father and associates – could muster was that it was out of control. Any other response would have been too corporately apocalyptic to contemplate.
British journalism as an occasionally thoughtless bloodsport has as a result, I think, been checked a little, though I know not all my fellow editors either agree or apAnd then came Edward Snowden, with his astonishing insights into the way the surveillance business had been industrialised since 9/11, so that – without any kind of meaningful informed consent - countless millions of people the world over have had their data scooped up, stored and analysed.
Judges, congressmen, lawyers, presidents, legislators, internet giants and academics around the world pored over the Guardian stories, so surely edited by US editor Janine Gibson. Only this month the US phone dragnet that had secretly violated the privacy of millions of Americans every day since October 2001 was shut down. This was perhaps inevitable after the programme’s overwhelming rejection by Congress, and after a US court of appeal ruled that the bulk collection of telephone metadata revealed by Snowden was unlawful.
The Pulitzer prize for public service was our reward. Snowden, who made the kind of sacrifice most of us would find hard even to contemplate, must, alas, wait for his own form of absolution and just recognition.
There have been other recent successes – deputy editor Katharine Viner’s brilliant launch of Guardian Australia – as part of our international expansion; Rob Evans’s long, dogged campaign to drag Prince Charles’s political correspondence into the open; our recent campaign to treat climate change with the gravity and impact it deserves; Maggie O’Kane’s forceful crusade against female genital mutilation … and much more.

Independent in perpetuity

As I’ve cleared my shelves and sorted through fading ephemera, I have, of course, reflected on what the Guardian is – and what it is to be an editor.

When John Scott, one of the sons of CP, decided to place the Manchester Guardian into a trust, he consulted Churchill’s future lord chancellor, Gavin Simonds, who told him: “It seems to me that you are trying to do something very repugnant to the law of England. You are trying to divest yourself of a property right.”
That was precisely what Scott was trying to do. Sir William Haley, later editor of the Times, said: “He could have been a rich man; he chose a spartan existence. And, when he made up his mind to divest himself of all beneficial interest [in the Guardian], he did so with as little display of emotion as if he has been solving an algebraical problem. Most men making so large a sacrifice would have exacted at least the price of an attitude.”
The decision of the Scott family to give up all financial interest in the Guardian must rank high among the great historic acts of public-minded philanthropy. In doing so, they created an ownership structure with only two purposes: to secure the future of the Guardian in perpetuity, and to protect its independence in all situations, at all costs and against all comers.
The perpetuity bit is, of course, always a work in progress – though building an endowment of around £1bn is certainly a strong foundation for the future. The role of the Guardian Media Group – the “commercial” wing of the operation – has been crucial.
The independence given to us by the trust manifests itself in a hundred ways. Before the recent general election, 200 of us sat in a room one lunchtime to decide which party, if any, to endorse. There was no message filtering down from above, explicit or implicit. Rightly, or wrongly, the decision was ours alone.
The same spirit is there every morning, when anyone on staff can come to the morning conference – to listen, to contribute, to challenge or to absorb. It was there when the insurers in the Aitken libel action urged our co-defendants, Granada TV, to surrender – while the Scott Trust told us to fight on. It was there when the state and assorted politicians came knocking to get them to pull the plug on the Snowden stories. The trust had the absolute answer: we can’t.
As we’ve seen, they can break the law while delving into private lives in reasonable confidence that no one will stop them, not even the police or regulator. They can have a disproportionate influence in shaping debates – if only by excluding any contrary arguments. One voice can dominate an entire newspaper, from the front page, throughout the reporting and the editorial columns to a select few allowed to be commentators.
People do still bend their knee to this kind of power, even in an age when the influence of mainstream media is supposed to be waning. In my modest fashion, I’ve experienced it at first hand. And, in a way, I’m glad of that. I want strong institutions of the fourth estate. In a world of globalised, distant, often unaccountable power, a countervailing source of scrutiny and influence is needed more than ever.
But I’ve never wanted the Guardian to be my voice – nor would my Guardian colleagues have wanted or allowed it. Scott saw clearly that a newspaper had to shun “the temptations of a monopoly … the voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard”.
I don’t know that I’ve always lived up to Scott’s ideal in that, but it was important to me that the Guardian had, for instance, a Simon Jenkins, a Max Hastings or aMatthew d’Ancona as well as writers who swam more easily with our liberal currents.

Giving away power

The Guardian has had the strength to withstand all the attacks launched in response to our journalism during the past 20 years – and there have been many. But we drew our resilience from the power of the institution, not of any individual.
But the power of an editor has always made me nervous. Early in my editorship I gave away significant power: the power of correction. It seemed obvious to me that journalism, as an imperfect medium, will always include mistakes – and that the very last person to adjudicate on whether or not an error had been made was the person responsible for the error in the first place.
I have never forgotten this tell-it-like it is description of a newspaper by the Washington Post’s David Broder: “[A] partial, hasty, incomplete, inevitably somewhat flawed and inaccurate rendering of some of the things we have heard about in the past 24 hours – distorted, despite our best efforts to eliminate gross bias, by the very process of compression that makes it possible for you to lift it from the doorstep and read it in about an hour. If we labelled the product accurately, then we could immediately add: ‘But it’s the best we could do under the circumstances, and we will be back tomorrow, with a corrected and updated version.’”
And so, since 1997, anyone who thinks the Guardian has got something wrong can bypass the editor and appeal to someone who is himself not answerable to the editor, but to the Scott Trust. I cannot interfere in his judgments, nor edit the weekly column in which he is free to criticise the paper or expose our weaknesses.
Something like this is commonplace in American newspapers, and elsewhere, but is still not the rule in the UK. You can see why. If, as editor, you greatly savour the view from the bully pulpit, then it makes no sense at all to appoint a truly independent umpire.
More recently, I gave away more power – creating an editorial board to oversee the comment pages and leader columns. We did not completely follow the US model, in which the executive editor of, say, the Washington Post or New York Times has no say at all over the opinion pages. I remained editor of the whole Guardian. But I did want to create a clear divide between the business of news and comment, and to give the editorial board, headed by Jonathan Freedland, the freedom (and time) to think for themselves. Of course, CP Scott famously articulated the separation in his 1921 essay. One was free, the other sacred. As usual, he was right.
Next week, for the first time in 20 years, I will have stepped off the hamster wheel of news. The Guardian is in good shape, its reach, influence and endowment bigger than anything imaginable at the time John Scott made his noble and philanthropic sacrifice.
I have been blessed with wonderful colleagues, whom I shall miss terribly – only a very few of them named here. Katharine Viner will be a wonderful 11th (or even 12th) editor of the paper. Next year I will head (as well as Lady Margaret Hall at Oxford University – founded, like the Guardian, in the cause of reform) the institution I have come to cherish beyond all other in the media: the Scott Trustitself.
I will say goodbye to colleagues in person. But please, readers, accept this as my farewell to you, along with my intense gratitude for your support, engagement, response and argument over many years. I know many of you have now become “members” of the Guardian, as we open the paper up even more to live and physical experience.
I’ve noticed that some of the most devoted readers tend to carbon-date themselves by editor. “I started with Wadsworth,” an elderly loyalist might say; or “I began reading under Hetherington.”
But, in the end, we editors just pass through. We all know that you, the readers, are the real carriers of the flame.
Twitter: @arusbridger