Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA is dedicated to community journalism. Its newspapers and websites in Arizona, Delaware, Florida and Maryland are published for, of and by the people. Independent's news publications are dedicated to community journalism, with a unique blend of issue-oriented stories, reader submissions and "refrigerator" news and photos.
Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA has a truly unique ownership — there's nothing else like it anywhere. Independent itself is a normal company that pays taxes like any other for-profit company. It, in turn, is owned by INI Holdings, a non-stock, non-profit holding company. The holding company was formed in 1991 and became the owner of 100 percent of Independent's stock through a gift from Joe Smyth.
This unique ownership structure was created to ensure the perpetual independence of the company, so that it could always be operated in a spirit of public trust. The holding company's purpose is to exercise, promote and help preserve the principles contained in the First Amendment of the Constitution, primarily by operating newspapers or other means of communication that may fill the information and community forum roles traditionally filled by newspapers. It does this through its ownership of the operating company. The holding company has never had any income, nor is it intended to ever have income; its members have allowed all after-tax profits to be reinvested in its journalistic operations, which was Mr. Smyth's intention when he made the gift.
During U.S. Army service in World War II, Bernard John "Jack" Smyth made the decision that he wanted a more meaningful career than working in the family jewelry store in Renovo, a poor railroad town in Pennsylvania. Although he had no training or experience in the field, he knew newspapers played an important role in a free society and decided that he would become a newspaper person after the war.
After discharge from the Army, Jack purchased his hometown newspaper, the four-page Renovo Daily Record, at that time perhaps the smallest daily in the country. Jack learned the community newspaper business by doing it. In 1952 he sold his hometown paper in order to purchase the Delaware State News in Dover, DE, then a weekly.
In 1969, Jack began having health problems and moved to Arizona. He sold the Delaware State News, by then a five-day daily, to his children (including Joe Smyth, who was then the 26-year-old managing editor). Jack Smyth passed away in 1996 at the age of 80. His autobiography, "From Diamonds to Deadlines," is available from Independent's Company Library.
Joe Smyth bought his siblings' stock in the early 1970s, changed the corporate name to Independent Newspapers, Inc. and positioned the company for expansion. He wanted to ensure that the company would remain independent and dedicated to the practice of journalism as a public trust. Joe was willing to give up his ownership to accomplish the goal. After many years of pursuing his vision, the IRS issued a private ruling that allowed him to form the non-profit holding company in 1991 and transfer 100 percent of the ownership to it.
Mission: We provide community websites and purposeful newspapers that encourage and support meaningful community involvement, so citizens can make sensible decisions about public issues.
Service: We operate each of our websites and newspapers as a public trust, in the public interest. We believe that our dedication to conscientious journalism and free speech with civility is the best way we can help each of our communities become a better place to live and work.
Ethics: We are committed to upholding high ethical standards in all of our dealings. We attempt to treat every individual (inside the company and outside) with courtesy and respect.
Strength: While our mission is our driving force, we recognize that we must earn sufficient profits to ensure the company's continuity, independence and growth.
Service: We strive to help our communities become better places to live and work through our dedication to conscientious journalism and by providing a vigorous advertising marketplace
Ethics: We intend to be a company of which we can all be proud, known for its integrity, fairness and respect for others. Our business relationships are built on honesty, service, quality products and value. We seek all-win relationships. We believe we can be successful without victimizing anybody.
Value: We strive to provide our customers with valued products and services at competitive prices. We are constantly in search of ways to improve the value and service that we provide and to increase our effectiveness and efficiency.
Improvement: We set only one goal - continuous improvement. But we do lots of measuring of trends, so we also know how we are doing.
Consultive Sales: We reject manipulative sales tactics in favor of a consultive approach. We achieve long-term success by helping our readers and advertisers become more successful.
Resources: We make maximum use of our resources and capabilities to pursue our mission. We continuously seek to improve quality and efficiency. We intend to continue to be environmentally responsible.
Equipment: We take pride in getting optimum performance from our equipment through careful use and good maintenance. We stand ready to upgrade or replace our equipment whenever such an investment can be cost justified.
Suppliers: We want our outside advisers and suppliers to be committed and valued partners in our success. We seek long-lasting and mutually-beneficial relationships. In return for our loyalty, we expect our suppliers to treat us as most favored customers.
Internal Customers: When our divisions do business with one another, they charge the same competitive prices that they would charge outside customers and provide the same level of service. Our ability to attract outside customers for these services provides proof of our efficiency and effectiveness.
Administration: We try to design the company's business policies and practices so that they support our mission and values. We look for effective solutions and brilliantly simple systems. We take pride in meeting our legal and financial requirements in the least bureaucratic ways possible and in providing an atmosphere in which Independent's values can flourish.
Purposefulness: We encourage and support meaningful community involvement and provide citizens with the knowledge they need to make rational decisions about public issues. We emphasize local coverage. We try to provide understanding of key issues, not just reporting the latest events. We write for the citizen, not for officials. We select our content for relevance and usefulness. We recognize individuals who are involved in the community.
Responsibility: We report the news with honesty, accuracy, fairness, objectivity, fearlessness and compassion. Our opinion pages provide a vigorous forum for community discussion of public issues, within the bounds of fair play. We maintain a reputation for purposeful neutrality, and guard it zealously.
Humility: We constantly strive for the truth, but never claim to possess it. We treat people with respect, courtesy and compassion. We correct our errors and give each correction the prominence it deserves. We provide a right to reply to those we write about. We disclose our own conflicts of interest or potential conflicts to our readers.
Format: We use a standard format to make it easy for readers to find what they want. The content is carefully organized for usefulness and time-efficiency. We make sensible and creative use of graphics, illustrations, indexes, charts and color when available.
Advertising: Advertising creates a marketplace in the newspaper's pages which not only serves readers and advertisers, but also helps ensure a vigorous local economy. Advertising is a critical part of our total package and is organized for reader relevance, usefulness and convenience. The newspaper's advertising should help our readers make intelligent choices about the goods and services they wish to use
Printing: We take pride in producing products that are printed crisply, dependably and efficiently.
Delivery: No matter how good the quality of the newspaper, the effort is wasted if it does not get delivered on time. We must make it as easy as possible for readers to subscribe to our newspaper, delivery must be consistent and timely, and the methods of payment and customer service must be as hassle-free as possible for our readers.
Commitment: We strive to attract people who are enthused about Independent's mission and who share our values.
Self-Management: We expect each individual to accept personal responsibility for his or her own success and for the company's success. We want all of our people to feel that this company is theirs and that they can make a difference in how it operates and whether it succeeds.
Learning: We expect each individual to make a commitment to continuous learning, accepting responsibility for his or her own continuing growth. The company makes appropriate training material available for individual self-education.
Courtesy: We expect each person to treat every other individual with courtesy and to uphold the highest ethical standards.
Teamwork: We expect each individual to be a team-player, team-builder and consensus-seeker. We all share responsibility for the company's success, for maintaining pleasant and safe working conditions, and for recognizing fellow staffers who are upholding the company's values and contributing to its success.
Equity: We insist that people be judged by the quality of their work and their contribution to the company's success, without regard to their race, color, gender or other extraneous factors.
Stability: We strive to provide stable employment except for performance-based terminations, career advancements or transfers.
Compensation: We strive for competitive compensation based on the job, the market and the individual's performance. We try to allow people to self-manage their benefits to the fullest possible extent, structuring premiums and benefits to encourage individual responsibility.
Leadership: We strive for leadership, not for supervision. People in leadership positions challenge and coach their associates. They are expected to help each of us become all we can be and to help the company become all it can be.
Shared Leadership: Our leaders make direction-changing decisions, but consult and seek consensus to the fullest practical extent. They try to share the leadership with everyone who has shown he or she has something to contribute.
Contribution: By fulfilling our mission and living our values, we will elevate the level of citizenship in our communities.
Excellence: We will excel because our people share our values and are committed to achieving excellence for themselves and for the organization.
Vitality: We will maintain our basic values and purposes, while continuously changing everything else to meet changing needs.
Stability: We will manage conservatively to ensure the company's continuity and preserve its independence.
Growth: We will expand when our existing operations are sound and when the expansion makes sense for us and for the communities we serve.
Ideal: We will earn respect for our service to our communities, our ethical standards, our relationships with people, the value we offer our customers, our innovations and purposefulness, and our business success. In so doing, we will provide a worthy model for the industry and a source of inspiration to all whose paths we cross.
Our pledge to our readers
- To operate this newspaper as a public trust.
- To help our community become better place to live and work, through our dedication to conscientious journalism.
- To provide the information citizens need to make their own intelligent decisions about public issues.
- To report the news with honesty, accuracy, purposeful neutrality, fairness, objectivity, fearlessness and compassion.
- To use our opinion pages to facilitate community debate, not to dominate it with our own opinions.
- To disclose our own conflicts of interest or potential conflicts to our readers.
- To correct our errors and to give each correction the prominence it deserves.
- To provide a right to reply to those we write about.
- To treat people with courtesy, respect and compassion.
Independent's Advertising Standards
We do not knowingly accept advertising for illegal products or services or advertising that discriminates on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status or disability.
We defend the right to advertise legal products and services, however controversial they may be, while reserving our right to revise or reject any specific advertisement. Advertisers have a right to express their opinions. We do not vouch for the accuracy of advertisements, and we urge readers to use their own good judgment about each advertisement.