Hamburg, 10/18/2017

Working for Editorial And Journalistic Independence

The members of Bertelsmann’s working group on Press Freedom

Subject: Media & Services
Country: Germany
Category: Project

Press freedom is a key corporate responsibility issue at Bertelsmann. Since 2015, a working group comprised of representatives from various divisions has met regularly to discuss issues such as press freedom and its importance for Bertelsmann. Its member recently convened again at Gruner + Jahr in Hamburg, this time to talk about editorial and journalistic independence at Bertelsmann’s news organizations.

After Oliver Fahlbusch, Head of Corporate Communications at RTL Group and Chairman of the press freedom working group, welcomed the participants, he invited guest speakers to present and examine specific examples from everyday practice. The guest speakers were Ulrike Penz, from Gruner + Jahr’s Corporate Communications team, Christian Krug, Editor-in-Chief of “Stern” magazine, and Simon Hof, Head of Content Management at Infonetwork, a Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland subsidiary.

Ulrike Penz presented the Gruner + Jahr campaign #FightForOurWrite  which was launched on the occasion of the G20 summit in Hamburg in July 2017. With four huge posters on the facade of the publishing company building facing the Elbphilharmonie concert hall – where Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and others attended a concert during the G20 summit – and a multilingual social media campaign, Gruner + Jahr drew attention to attacks on freedom of the press and advocated unfettered media reporting.

‘It’s Not a Crime To Express Criticism, Give an Opinion Or Investigate the Truth!’

The presentation was followed by a discussion with Christian Krug, who was also part of the #FightForOurWrite campaign. For one hour, he talked about current challenges facing journalists with regards to press freedom under the title ‘Trump, Turkey and Twitter attacks’.

Said Christian Krug: “We mustn’t stop fighting for press freedom and highlighting abuses. If journalists abroad are being repressed by governments or even arrested, we have to show our solidarity with them. It’s not a crime to express criticism, give an opinion or investigate the truth!”

Simon Hof then presented how Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland has joined an international team from across RTL Group to form an internal team of experts that checks the authenticity of news content. "Because we work as an international team, we can quickly identify fake news and share our research results across the Group immediately”, says Simon Hof who is in charge of the ‘Fake-News-team’ at Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland.