Guardian Owner Apologizes for Founders’ Links to Transatlantic Slavery

    Guardian Owner Apologizes for Founders’ Links to Transatlantic Slavery
    Last updated Mar 29, 2023
    Image credit: Mirror


    • Owner of The Guardian newspaper, the Scott Trust, released a report on Tuesday apologizing for the role of the publication’s founders in the transatlantic slave trade.[1]
    • The Guardian underwent an “academic review” regarding its origins in the early 19th century. The report — which took two years to complete — concluded that its founder John Edward Taylor, alongside many of its financial backers, had links to slavery.[2]
    • The report states that it found “significant new facts” during the investigation, leading it to extend an apology to the communities affected by the historic trade, as well as to the surviving descendants of former slaves.[3]
    • It was discovered that Taylor was a cotton merchant whose father had also worked in the textile industry. In response to the revelations, the Scott Trust announced it would be paying £10M in reparations as part of a “decade-long programme of restorative justice.”[4]
    • The newspaper has also committed to expanding its reporting on Black communities in the UK, US, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. Moreover, the Scott Trust will reportedly open a new fellowship for mid-career Black journalists as well as expanding its training bursary scheme.[5]
    • The Scott Trust claimed that it was"incumbent" on the organization to share the facts of the Guardian's past "transparently," and emphasized that more work needs to be done to acknowledge the wider history of Britain's connection to transatlantic slavery.[6]


    Left narrative

    It is high time that compensation be paid by those who profiteered by turning people into merchandise. Europe and the West have an obligation, not only to apologize for these wrongs, but to embark on comprehensive social justice programs to counter the long-standing effects of previous atrocities. Apologies are commendable but pragmatic steps must also be taken.

    Right narrative

    There are many practical issues with issuing reparations for the grotesque suffering of forebearers. The question of who would qualify is ambiguous, the criteria for quantifying monetary compensation is subjective, and such decisions are often made at the expense of people who never themselves practiced or endorsed slavery. Clumsily redressing what cannot be righted poses the danger of only making things worse.

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