The St. Pete Principles
The guiding prinicples of the St. Petersburg Times
In 1947, Nelson Poynter set down 15 guiding principles for his St. Petersburg Times. In 1979, his successor, Eugene Patterson, consolidated them into 10.
Standards of Operation
1. Operating a news publication must be the honoring of a sacred trust. We cannot compromise with the integrity of the news. Neither can we forget that our privilege of freedom under the First Amendment burdens us with a companion responsibility to exercise it fairly, carefully and in the public interest.
2. We will be sensitive to the unusual obligations that any worthy publication bears to the community in which it operates, aggressively volunteering service to the public with enthusiasm and never waiting to be prodded into it with reluctance. Because a chain owner's devotion to any one area is bound to be diluted or divided, we owe a commitment to our community to retain local, independent ownership of this newspaper.
3. To maintain our independence, we must resist debt, build reserves, sustain financial strength, forbid voting stock to scatter, and determine that a newspaper is so individualistic in nature that complete control, and thereby responsibility, should be concentrated in an individual.
4. Because a news organization encumbered with outside interests cannot best serve its public purposes, our editorial policy and news coverage will not be tinctured by ownership in enterprises not related to our primary mission of informing the public.
5. The manager of any department of our particular enterprises should have a well-rounded appreciation of and respect for the contributions that are made by staffers in all departments.
6. Second to staff, modern equipment should be regarded as vital to the service of our readers and advertisers, and essential to the achievement of our goal of highest excellence. Dividend policy will take into account these capital needs.
7. We seek to assemble a staff on which every member is above average, and so we must be willing to compensate staffers above average, and then expect the staff to demand of itself performance above the average.
8. Our profits are to be shared with the staff on a formula that recognizes contribution to the enterprise.
9. Pensions are to be paid that promise dignified retirement to members of the staff who devote their lives to the institution.
10. Our publications' policy is very simple – merely to tell the truth. ###