Throughout his 50 years as publisher of the Toronto Star from 1899 to 1948, Joseph E. Atkinson developed strong views on both the role of a large city newspaper and the editorial principles it should espouse. These values and beliefs now form what are called the Atkinson Principles. For more than a century, they have provided the intellectual foundation on which the Star has operated and have given the paper its distinctive voice

The editorial principles Atkinson espoused were founded on his belief that a progressive newspaper should contribute to the advancement of society through pursuit of social, economic and political reforms. He was particularly concerned about injustice, be it social, economic, political, legal or racial.

Since 2010, Journalists for Human Rights has partnered with the Toronto Star to send journalists overseas on training assignments, while publishing content from JHR programs.

The spirit of the partnership is deeply informed by the Atkinson Principles: in particular, that media should work in the service of social justice, shore up individual and civil liberties, promote community and civic engagement and the rights of working people, and engage with the necessary role of government

Star staff have worked with JHR in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana. Star editor Michael Cooke conducted training explaining the methodology behind the Star’s decision to crowdsource coverage of the G20 riots in 2010 -- and in so doing hold police officers accountable for abusive actions during those riots. This case study has since become part of UNESCO’s training curriculum, teaching best practices of how to use new techniques to cover police brutality in countries across Africa.

The partnership has since grown to encompass the Indigenous Reporters Program. In 2016, the Star has been an enthusiastic participant, hosting one of the newspaper’s best-attended training workshops on best practices for coverage of Indigenous issues, and hosting an Indigenous intern over the summer months. Journalists for Human Rights looks forward to working with the Toronto Star on more innovative programming in the years to come – all in service of the Atkinson Principles.