Our contributors’ network is large, and does not add up to an echo chamber

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by Hans Dembowski

Reasons for trusting D+C in the era of “fake news”

In many countries, politics and policymaking are increasingly affected by “fake news”. The term stands for information that looks like serious news, but actually consists of outright lies, unproven rumours or – at best – distorted facts. Fake news is geared to scoring ideological points, rallying supporters and intimidating political opponents. The internet is the global forum for fake news, and as we operate a website ourselves, I think it makes sense to spell out why you can have faith in our work.

Our team 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. Sometimes inaccuracies escape our attention, moreover. So, though we make considerable efforts to avoid mistakes, we sometimes fail. We are only human after all.

Individual mistakes and inaccuracies, however, normally do not turn an entire story and even less an entire website into “fake news”. We correct the mistakes we become aware of.

What is more important than single facts, moreover, is the source. We systematically provide you with the most important source by telling you who the author is. In most cases, we even provide an email address so you can get in touch. If you want further information, you can ask the authors. They are real persons, not pre-programmed computerised bots.

We also inform you about our contributor’s professional background. If you check out who they are, moreover, you will see that they include people from all over the world with very diverse institutional affiliations. This is neither a small network of conspirators nor some kind of echo-chamber. Our mission is to provide a credible forum for controversial debate, and we do our best to accomplish it.

Another aspect is that we do not try to stimulate outrage, as fake news typically does. We are interested in reasoned debate. In the editing process, we actually tend to tone done aggressive rhetoric. We are not in the business of inciting anger. Our aspiration is to connect sober minds.

Fake-news outlets, moreover, often shroud themselves, and especially their funding, in darkness. We do not. Our mission statement spells our 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.

We do not pretend to be totally unbiased. Nobody is totally unbiased. Some of the articles we publish reflect the views of our paymasters. Others do not. If you follow the global-development debate in Germany, you’ll know the difference, and sometimes it will even be obvious to people who are not interested in inner-German debates at all.

More generally speaking, however, we believe that the Federal Governments’ stance on multilateral cooperation to safeguard peace and bring about sustainable development is correct in principle. We also appreciate German global-development policy’s emphasis on human rights, the rule of law and people’s broad-based involvement in policy-making.  By the way, these points are largely uncontroversial in Germany, all major parties agree on them in principle.

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 content.   

 

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