The situation of Fairfax Media, with three editors standing down in one day and Gina Rinehart circling with her intentions largely undeclared, make this a good time to think carefully about what journalists mean by editorial independence. In fact, it is past time this thinking was done.
The best time to review and update core documents, such as the Fairfax charter of editorial independence, is when they are not under attack or stress. It is understandable that in the current context, those who care about the integrity of journalism are not keen to acknowledge that the charter may not be the ideal rallying document for the cause. But it isn’t. And in an ideal world, the hard thinking about what independence actually means and how it might best be defended would have been done periodically over the 25 years since the charter was written.