How a newspaper comes about
How does a German newspaper get its news? Who verifies whether it is true? Let us explain the whole process, from selection of news stories to final print.
“German Bundestag approves corona support for families”, reports the dpa, Germany’s largest news agency, Donald Trump tweets about the US presidential elections, and the NASA announces that the launch of SpaceX will have to be postponed. Each day, journalists in Germany need to choose which stories to feature from a deluge of information from agencies, social media, press releases, police reports and investigation teams. What will the reader consider most important? What can be left out?
The next step is to research the stories. It is the job of the editors to verify whether the news really is new. They conduct research to establish which aspects are important, and which individuals should or must be quoted. In this context, they rely on one thing above all: contacts. They need contacts in the ministries, political parties, environmental and business associations, and companies.
There are a few golden rules for journalistic writing in Germany. For example: at least two mutually independent sources are required to back up a news story. When describing conflicts, the positions held by both sides must be presented in a neutral manner. Editors are required to apply journalistic due diligence. This means that the content, origin and validity of information must be verified. Speculation must be identified as such, and opinion pieces presented separately from other news reports.
Is Angela Merkel really 64 years old? (No, 65.) Even the best writers are not immune to the occasional mistake, grammatical error or mix-up. Which is exactly why a final edit is required. Articles are read one last time, copy-edited, and any mistakes removed. Then the newspaper goes into print and is distributed to readers in Germany and around the world.
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