Our seven election promises to you, the Independent reader
Editorial: During this six-week election campaign, we guarantee that our coverage will be guided by our values and principles of fairness, balance and accuracy. We’ll still share opinion polls – but we’ll expose politicians’ untruths and fight fake news too
The political cycle of a general election is beginning. Over the next six weeks, candidates, parties and leaders will be vying to persuade you to vote for their vision for their constituency and their country, and we, the media, will report, analyse and comment.
This election brings new challenges. We live in an age of information and disinformation. The era of 24-hour TV news has become an era of multi-platform digital media. Politics has become charged with populism and Brexit on top of all the more familiar election issues of hospitals, schools and so on. The potential for divisiveness – hardly something this country needs – is high.
So, allow us just a moment to consider the role and responsibility of The Independent in all that is to follow. We take this seriously because we know you do. Here are our own pledges, made to you, our readers, about how we will cover the election.
1. Our core principle is, of course, independence. Unlike much of the media, The Independent is not tied to a particular political party. For that matter, we are independent of other vested interests too – whether they take the form of business links or shareholders’ views. Our journalism will continue to come from our journalists, nowhere else.
2. We don’t sign up to dogmas, but we do have values and principles, and we will be open about these. For example, we believe in a fair society and in equality. We are outward-looking rather than insular. We believe the UK must learn from the inequalities that led us towards Brexit. We stand against prejudice and discrimination. And we believe in the overriding importance of preserving a habitable planet for future generations.
3. In this election, no single issue can be as all-encompassing nor as lasting as the climate crisis. Our coverage will go beyond Brexit.
4. We will combat fake news at every opportunity. Balance between reasonable views is important, but so too is evidence. So if one side of a debate is clearly untrue, we will not hold back. Our aim is to discover the truth. Too often, striving for “balance” can result in bland, powerless reportage that fails to expose untruths for what they are. Evidence and rational debate are to be highly valued, especially given the rise of populism.
5. In an age of spin, we will not rely solely on briefings from “sources” and politicians’ words – history has shown we can’t always believe what people say, even (especially, perhaps) when our leaders speak directly to the press or make pledges to voters. We won’t discount briefings from well-placed, reliable, identifiable sources, but will seek supportive evidence rather than giving credence to soundbites in isolation. So, as ever, expect us to lead our website and our subscription services on in-depth analysis more than other titles.
6. We stand by our campaign to give the people a Final Say on Brexit. We still believe that a general election, whatever the result, is not the clearest way to settle the question of our membership of the European Union. As with all our campaigns, any news stories or analysis linked to the Final Say campaign will be clearly labelled.
7. We will report opinion polls, and will do so prominently if they are interesting enough. It is, after all, an important part of our job to take the temperature of the nation, and you are entitled to the best information about what other people are thinking. But we won’t naively attach too much importance or treat opinion polls as nailed-on predictions of the future.
The goal, as always, is about giving you the facts you need to form your own view and decide how you will vote. We respect that you’re independently minded too.