We had a discussion in our office this week with a retired editor, and she brought along a document I’d never seen. It was called, “This is the Daily Mail.”
As a 20+ year employee (and now its editor), I’d like to think I know what the Charleston Daily Mail is, either because of experience or oral tradition. But it was great to see what amounted to a mission statement thoughtfully typed out.
These days, I would probably add some mumbo jumbo about platforms, including website, apps and social media.
But in terms of our role in the community and the goals we should strive to reach every day, this still stands. I hope we live up to it.
Since it was written on typewriter, what follows is my typing straight into WordPress:
THIS IS THE DAILY MAIL
1. The Daily Mail is, first of all, a newspaper. Its primary obligation is to the news. The news is its principal commodity. Its major efforts should be directed at gathering and processing the news. In this it is guided by several considerations.
a) The motto: Without, or with, offense to friends or foes, I sketch your world exactly as it goes. (This is the reason it calls suicide by the right name.)
b) The Daily Mail is a family newspaper whose circulation, in the main, is concentrated in the home. (This is the reason it does not dwell upon the lewd, obscene and bestial or pander to the taste for sensation and scandal.)
c) The Daily Mail is a Charleston newspaper. Its ambition is to be the newspaper without which the reader cannot get the picture or “feel” of this community.
2. The Daily Mail is a responsible newspaper.
a) It strives, first of all, to be right — factually, morally right.
b) Where it cannot be right, it must be fair.
c) Where it has not been fair, it is quick to make amends.
3. The Daily Mail is a force for leadership.
a) It initiates causes which in its judgement are beneficial to the community, opposes those which in its judgment are detrimental. Similarly it espouses and opposes causes which originate elsewhere.
b) It is an independent newspaper with partisan leanings, not a partisan newspaper with independent leanings, which is to say that it is an independent Republican paper because it is conservative, not the other way around.
c) On its editorial page and elsewhere in the selection of criticism and opinion, it seeks to keep open the market place in ideas. It has its own opinions and ideas, but it does not undertake to suppress the ideas and opinions of others.
d) In looking toward the future, the Daily Mail tries to keep just a little ahead of public opinion, its job being to shape it, not to reflect it, to prompt action, not to concur in it, to point toward, rather than to look back upon.
e) In this direction, the Daily Mail’s editorial weapons are, first of all, the facts, then good sense and logic, followed by conscience as a guide to what we think is best, plus the courage to say so. Note: A newspaper can embrace too many wrong causes for its survival — wrong in the sense that they are unpopular — but the Daily Mail does not mind challenging the common wisdom when the need arises.
d) All these add up to something like a personality, which may be described in this way:
The Daily Mail is a Charleston newspaper. It is (or should be) a complete newspaper, the honest, independent, reliable newspaper whose stock in trade is the truth as we know and can determine it.
The Daily Mail is also the conscientious, concerned newspaper, as anxious to serve as it is eager to profit and ready to gamble that as it succeeds in the first it cannot fail to succeed in the second.