ONE of Scotland’s best-known and respected environment journalists has made a public declaration of, among other things, his income, expenses and organisation memberships, as part of an initiative to help make journalism more transparent.
Rob Edwards – environment editor of the Sunday Herald and a correspondent for the New Scientist and The Guardian – was paid a total of £35,467 up to the tax year end April 5 last year, mostly from the Sunday Herald.
He writes: “Journalism in the UK is in crisis. As well as being ethically shredded by Leveson, its economic base is crumbling. Public trust in journalists is at a historic low, and skilled hacks are fleeing the profession to earn their crusts elsewhere.
“In the belief that any decent democracy needs serious, fact-based, investigative journalism, there are many good people worrying about the problem and trying to come up with creative solutions. But, as yet, the answer is far from clear.
“One thing, though, has become clear to me. Part of the answer to re-establishing trust in journalists is for us to become much more open and honest in what we do. This means, for example, providing access to information sources, including leaked documents, as often as possible so that readers can make their own judgements.
“It also means being much more transparent about our influences, our income and our expenses.”
Edwards is following the example set by at least a trio of Scots: the writer and land reform campaign, Andy Wightman, the author and ecology activist, Alastair McIntosh, and David Eyre, the media and New Media officer at Oxfam Scotland and a former BBC Scotland producer.
Two years ago, The Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, started declaring his interests.