From the moment I arrived at the Guardian as a young writer, I knew I was joining a special place of open, independent, courageous journalism, free of political or commercial masters. And I knew that the reason the Guardian was not like any other newspaper was largely because of the Scott Trust, its sole owner.
The trust’s very existence is a daily reminder that Guardian staff are not here to serve some proprietor’s interest or to squander the power of a great media company on short-term gain at the expense of reputation and purpose. Guardian journalism often takes time, costs a lot of money to produce and runs risks, but our journalists know they will be supported in their work. The return on investment for the trust is the quality of the journalism – not a financial dividend.
The generosity of the Scott family in giving their fortune away in 1936 was extraordinary. But the double blessing was that they did it with only the lightest of instructions as to how the money should be spent and only the example of CP Scott, one of the greatest editors in the history of journalism – born 170 years ago this week – to guide its trustees.
The result is an exceptional, if not unique, form of governance for a news publisher. The Guardian has no proprietor in the normal sense of the word. While many of our readers would not know the Scott Trust from a bar of soap, its job is to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity and to uphold the values laid out by CP Scott, which underscore all we continue to pursue today in our journalism: how nesty, integrity, courage, fairness and a sense of duty to the reader and to the community.