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Reasons why you can trust us

by Hans Dembowski
Disinformation has become an issue of great international concern. Media outlets are under pressure to prove that they are trustworthy. That obviously applies to D+C/E+Z too, so as the editor, I feel obliged to tell you what our approach is.

In journalism, sources matter more than individual facts. We systematically tell you who the authors of our stories are, in what capacity they are contributing and how you can get in touch with them. We normally indicate an e-mail address or something similar. The people who provide us with content are real persons, and if you want additional information, you can ask them.

We are not promoting some kind of echo chamber by giving voice only to members of a small, like-minded group. Our contributors work for a great diversity of institutions all over the world.

Disinformation websites tend to shroud themselves – and especially their funding – in secrecy. We do not. Our mission statement spells out clearly that D+C/E+Z is “funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and published on behalf of ENGAGEMENT GLOBAL”. ENGAGEMENT GLOBAL is a government agency that reports to the ministry. Our mission is to provide a credible forum for controversial debate, and we have the editorial freedom to decide on content and contributors independently. If you want to propose a story, please do.

Another aspect is that we do not try to stimulate outrage, as public-opinion manipulating trolls typically do. In the editing process, we actually tend to tone down aggressive rhetoric. We are interested in reasoned debate and do not want to fan anger. Our aspiration is to connect sober minds.

That does not imply that we claim to be unbiased. Nobody is unbiased. Our approach is pluralistic. We publish diverging views. Some of the articles on our platform reflect the views of our paymasters. Others do not. If you follow the global-development debate in Germany, you will know the difference, and sometimes it will even be obvious to people who are not interested in inner-German debates.

More generally speaking, however, we think that our Federal Government’s stance on multilateral cooperation to safeguard peace and bring about sustainable development is basically correct. We also appreciate German global-development policy’s long-standing emphasis on human rights, the rule of law and people’s involvement in policymaking. These points are largely uncontroversial in Germany.

Objectivity is of course an important journalistic principle, but it does not mean that media workers must always give equal space to “both sides” of an argument. At D+C/E+Z, we do not want to promote the views of those who evidently deviate from fact-based discourse and disrespect democratic principles. We do not accept anybody’s claim to be somehow entitled to speak directly for “the” people or have some kind of privileged access to “the” truth.

The editorial team of D+C/E+Z is small. We do our best to check the facts in the articles we publish, but there are limits to verifying grassroots-level data from Burundi, Bolivia or Bangladesh. As is true of all news organisations, inaccuracies sometimes escape our attention. Journalists are human, and all human beings fail occasionally. We correct the mistakes we become aware of and do so transparently.

Whether you trust us or not, is up to you, of course. We hope you do. And to encourage your trust, we give you solid background information concerning who we are, how we work, and who contributes the content to our product.

Hans Dembowski is D+C/E+Z’s editor in chief.
[email protected]

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