Letter from the editor

My name is Jamil Anderlini and today I joined POLITICO Europe as Editor-in-Chief. I first want to pay my respects to my predecessor, Stephen Brown, who tragically passed away in March this year. I didn’t know Stephen personally but I know he is sorely missed and that his idealism and commitment to great journalism are very much present in my new home.

I’ve just moved to Brussels from Hong Kong, where I was Asia Editor of the Financial Times, a 133-year-old business publication. Leaving the FT to join POLITICO Europe (established in 2015) feels a bit like quitting a symphony orchestra to join a rock band.

Departing China, where I have worked as a journalist and newsroom leader for the last two decades, fills me with a mixture of sadness and relief. Much of my adult life has been dedicated to understanding, interpreting and explaining that incredible country. But it is harder and harder to operate as a journalist as the Communist Party becomes more totalitarian at home and increasingly belligerent abroad.

On my last day in Hong Kong, I sat on the deck of a friend’s boat parked just a few hundred yards from the notorious Stanley Prison. Inside its walls, scores of political prisoners, some of them friends and acquaintances, are serving long sentences or awaiting trial on the most spurious of charges.

To land in the heart of democratic Europe and not have to worry about retribution from an oppressive government for committing acts of journalism is no small relief.

But the most important reason I have made this move is the power and potential I see in POLITICO.

This digital-native news organization is shaking things up in Brussels and across all of Europe. It is increasing interest and participation in the democratic process in places where democracy is sometimes taken for granted. I want to be part of that.

Today, democracy is in decline and under threat throughout the world, including in its most important bastions in Europe and North America. Young democracies in Eastern Europe are inching towards autocracy. But even more established systems can slip into complacency and corruption if they are not challenged by a strong, nonpartisan, fact-based free press.

No organization in Europe today embodies that spirit better than POLITICO and its new owner, Axel Springer.

Not long after he and his co-founders launched POLITICO in Washington DC, our founding editor John Harris explained why the publication does not have a traditional editorial page. He talked about the difference between voice and advocacy and how important it was “to insist on the primacy of facts over ideology” in journalism. “One of the most distressing features of public life recently has been the demise of shared facts,” he said. Things have only gotten worse since he wrote that back in 2007, around the time Twitter was invented and the iPhone first launched.

Like John and all my new colleagues, I believe strongly in journalism that is principled but not ideological, fearless but fair. To quote the Chinese dictator Mao Zedong: I want to see “one hundred flowers bloom, one hundred schools of thought contend” — of course without the vicious purges that followed in the case of Maoist China.

While remaining scrupulously nonpartisan, I want POLITICO Europe to stand up for the tolerance, plurality and openness of liberal democracy.

I want to help POLITICO keep building a successful business model for journalism that takes advantage of the latest technology and innovation.

And I want to have a lot of fun, including in the way we tell stories. As POLITICO Europe’s first editor, Matt Kaminski, likes to say: We will tell you what everyone is talking about but nobody dares to write.

We promise to hold the powerful to account and we also expect to be held to the highest journalistic standards of accuracy and accountability. If you believe we have made a factual error then please get in touch at editorial@politico.eu

We promise you will be informed, you will be entertained and, sometimes, you will be uncomfortable.

Unlike those in Stanley Prison, very few POLITICO readers are confronted with existential choices about how much we value freedom and democracy. But everyday choices that get made in this capital and other capitals of Europe — on climate, technology, on global engagement — are cumulatively shaping history for the balance of this century.

We believe we are illuminating some of the most important stories in the world and we hope you will join us — as consumers of our journalism, as sources and as colleagues.

Jamil Anderlini

Editor-in-Chief

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