Diverse and Controversial Content
"We observe editorial and journalistic independence in news gathering and distribution."
Bertelsmann Code of Conduct, Paragraph 2.3.1
Viewer ratings, circulation and reach. For Bertelsmann and its businesses, these are key indicators of our success. Behind them lies a vast and multifaced variety of entertainment and information offerings. To ensure that customers not only get to choose from this diversity, but can also form their own opinion regarding controversial issues, Bertelsmann applies the "Editor-in-Chief Principle."
This principle ensures that our program managers in broadcast, online and print media are able to work autonomously, independent from corporate bodies and financial ownership, in evaluating and making their content, production and distribution decisions. By applying this principle, we put an important pillar of our corporate culture of partnership into action by delegating responsibility, and secure the editorial freedom of our media content.
Our products reflect a broad spectrum of attitudes and opinions. This hallmark of quality corresponds to the versatility of our customers and thus also benefits our own business. At the same time, it means that Bertelsmann contributes to a diverse media landscape and to democratic diversity of opinion in our society.We are aware of and treat with care the responsibility that we, as opinion makers, have toward the public. Everyone involved in the process of producing our media has a journalistic and ethical obligation.
Many companies and editors have also implemented further statutes for safeguarding journalistic independence in the day-to-day business. They focus primarily on duty of care, respect for individual rights, dealing with representations of violence, and the protection of minors. These topics are also part of our editorial teams’ education and training.
Working Group on Press Freedom
In 2015, Bertelsmann established set up its Group-wide working group on press freedom. Since then, representatives from different divisions have met at regular intervals to discuss current issues of editorial and journalistic independence and to exchange information, ideas and best practices.
According to Jäkel, “Stern” continues to stand for independent, incorruptible journalism in Germany, as it has for the past 70 years: “And in my opinion there has rarely been a moment in history when democracy and journalism needed each other as much as they do now. ‘Stern’ is and will remain an affair of the heart for our company.”