Berliner Zeitung

Media format : Printed Press, Internet

Frequency : Daily

Geographical distribution area : National

Geographical area : Germany

Website :

Media language : German

Country : Germany

City : Berlin

Address : Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 29, Berlin

Created : 1945

Owner : DuMont Schauberg

Status : Private company

Director : Uwe Vorkötter (ex-Editor-in-Chief of Frankfurter Rundschau, owned by the same group)

Editorial director : Brigitte Fehrle

Chief Editors : Thomas Schmid, Abini Publicain

Some figures…

Turnover : Not public

Print-run : 120 000 copies per day (2012 figures) for approximately 417 000 readers

Salaried staff : approximately 100 journalists.

18 correspondants throughout the world: Paris, London, Brussels, Rome, Madrid, Warsaw, Istanbul, Vienna, Washington, Moscow, Jerusalem, Cairo, Beijing, Bangkok, Johannesburg and Rio de Janeiro.

Publication : 6 editions per week

Mediator : The newspaper currently has no mediator.

Background :

The Berliner Zeitung was founded in May 1945 as an ‘Organ of the Red Army Command’. The first Editor-in-chief was Alexander Kirsanow, Colonel in the Soviet army. The editorial team was made up of Red Army officers, members of the Germany Communist party as well as representatives of the Hitler resistance movement.

In 1953 the newspaper was placed under the control of the Central Committee of the SED (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands/Socialist Unity Party of Germany), the East German Communist Party.With a daily circulation of 345 000 copies, the Berlin newspaper was not the official press organ but it was run by the East German press monopoly.

Until 1990 it was one of the SED’s 15 regional newspapers (there was one in each district of East Germany).

In 1992 the Berliner Zeitung was bought by the publishing house, Gruner + Jahr, which belonged to the Bertelsmann group and the British publisher, Robert Maxwell.Gruner + Jahr became sole owner sometime later and in 1997 reissued the newspaper at great expense with a new formula and a new layout. The idea was to make it the German Washington Post.

In 2009 it was bought by the 17th century publishing house DuMont Schauberg (publishers of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger).

The Berliner Zeitung – with its headquarters overlooking the famous Alexander Platz – produces six editions a week and is regarded as a defender of centre left ideas, as well as being the first quality newspaper of the German capital.

Articles from the newspaper print edition have been available for free on the website since 2 April 1994.

Print version

Complete answers

1.1. – Internal Code or charter? : Yes

The Berliner Zeitung adopted an internal charter (Redaktionsstatut) in August 2006.

The charter defines the organisation’s editorial ethics and standards (journalistic independence, clear demarcation between advertising and editorial, etc.), as well as the internal structure of the newspaper (complete editorial). The document is not available to the public.

1.2. – How is their application monitored? : An internal committee

The internal charter put in place a committee of three editors, « Redaktionsausschuss », who are elected by all editorial staff and have the task of monitoring the application of the charter.

2.1. – Journalist associations inside the media? : An equivalent

Three journalists are elected to the  Redaktionsausschuss (internal editorial committee) by all the editorial staff. They monitor the application of the internal charter and their role is one of consultation and mediation.

The committee meets the Editor-in-Chief once a month, sometimes in the presence of the commercial management of Neven DuMont, the publishing house that owns the newspaper.

2.2. – What mechanisms are there to evaluate already published material? : Systematic and sometimes external

Editorial meetings are held every morning, and are attended by the Editor-in-Chief plus department heads. During the meeting the previous edition of the paper is critically assessed, followed by a look at the contents of the forthcoming edition.

Editors take turns to carry out the review; sometimes visitors are invited to do this.

2.3. – Which systems are in place to identify and correct errors? Fact checking? : Proofread three times

Each article is re-read at least three times before it is published.

Serious errors will be acknowledged and corrected in a corrections column on the Opinions page of the newspaper (page 4).

3.1. – What is the relationship between editorial values and advertising content? : Strictly separate

The Redaktionsstatut (internal charter) of the Berliner Zeitung and German press codex forbids any mixing of advertising and editorial content.

This principle is strictly adhered to.

3.2. – What arbitration systems are in place for disputes? : The Editor-in-Chief

3.3. – What is the structure for sponsorships and editorial partnerships? : The boundaries are very clear

The total separation between editorial and the marketing, advertising, promotions and sponsorship departments is enforced without restriction.

4.1. – How are press trips and embedded journalists managed? : These are authorised but not made public.

If a journalist has been embedded in the army, the conditions in which they have obtained their information are usually identifiable from the article content.

4.2. – How are conflicts of interests with the owner resolved? : Relationships are openly acknowledged

If one of the owners of the newspaper is named in an article, their links with the newspaper organisation are usually mentioned.

4.3. – How are political and economic pressures managed? : Nothing has been formalised

Attempts to apply pressure are rarely seen.

4.4. – How is general news or “news in brief” treated? : There are laws and the press code

Laws relating to the rights of individuals and the German press codex are applied, thus, for example, there is no coverage of suicides except in very specific cases.

In litigation cases, the editorial committee will discuss the matter and in the final analysis the Editor-in-chief will decide.

4.5. – What criteria are there for the publication of photos/ transmission of filmed images? : There is a law and the press code

The criteria for the publication of photos are the same as for the treatment of general news and ‘news in brief’. These are defined by the law relating to the rights of the individual and by the German press code concerning the respect for the dignity of crime victims, etc.

Litigation cases are also discussed at editorial meetings where the Editor-in-chief will make the final decision.

The photo caption informs readers if the source or conditions in which photos supplied by press agencies are uncertain (for example, images from the war in Syria that cannot be checked).

4.6. – How are amateur photos or videos treated? : Amateur material is not used

Images produced by amateurs are not published.

4.7. – What is the status of permanent or freelance journalist blogs? : Two different categories

The newspaper rules apply to blogs associated with the website.

As there have never been any conflicts concerning journalists’ private Facebook or Twitter accounts, we have no formal rules.

4.8. – What are the conditions for working undercover? : Rarely needed

Berliner Zeitung journalists seldom have the need to work undercover so there is no internal rule about it. The Editor-in-Chief will make the final decision if this is necessary.

5.1. – What form of mediation is there with the public? Is there an ombudsman? : None

5.2. – Is there a section for public comments? : Yes

Readers’ letters are sent to the article writers concerned, as well as to the department heads. Where possible, the journalist will take the time to reply. A selection of letters is published once a week in the Leserforum page (Readers’ forum).

Opinions that are felt to be particularly interesting (or if they differ from an opinion expressed in this section), are printed on the Opinions page in the Einspruch (Objection) column.

5.3. – How is the ‘right of reply’ managed? : The law is adhered to

German law states that the right of reply is limited to an explanation of the facts and it excludes all opinions or judgments. It mainly covers defamation.

5.4. – How are public visits organised? : Fully supported newspaper policy

There are many visits to the Berliner Zeitung offices and these are of two types:

1. Groups (foreign journalists, students, school pupils, etc.) who have a guided tour of the organisation. The tours are often booked through a personal contact at the newspaper or as part of the Youth and Education programme. These visitors can also attend editorial meetings.

2. Invitations to politicians, NGO representatives, etc. to attend editorial meetings in order to provide an analytical assessment or to discuss a particular subject.

5.5. – Are there organised meetings with the public? : Debates at the newspaper offices

Berliner Zeitung organises public debates at its premises on political or social subjects which are attended by journalists.

5.6. – Are journalist contact details made public? : No, but…

Some journalists make available their personal Twitter accounts on the website and can therefore be contacted in this way.

5.7. – How are internet forums managed? : Internal pre-moderation

6.1. – Moving towards green printing? : Information not provided

6.2. – How sustainable are the infrastructure and logistics? : Information not provided

6.3. – Are suppliers selected according to sustainable criteria? : Information not provided

6.4. – Is there sustainable management of film materials? : Information not provided

7.1. – What initiatives are there for developing media literacy? : « Youth and Education » programme

As part of the Youth and Education programme, Berliner Zeitung works with schools to inform young people about the media and active citizenship. The newspaper is given free of charge to participating classes for a year and teaching material is made available to teachers. Pupils are encouraged to write articles themselves, guided by a journalist, and these are published in a special Youth and Education page in the newspaper.

Classes that take part in the programme are automatically given a guided tour of the newspaper offices.

7.2. – Is support provided for media in emerging countries? : Interns are welcomed

The newspaper sometimes receives interns as part of an exchange programme, such as the International Journalists’ Programme. Some of these are from developing countries.

8.1. – What commitments are there for continuous training? : The law is adhered to

In the Land of Berlin, each salaried member of staff is entitled to five days for training each year.

Internal training is mostly technical but external training programmes are also supported.

8.2. – Is there pay transparency?  : No

8.3. – Is there an apprenticeship tax? : This does not exist in Germany

Apprenticeship tax does not exist in Germany.

9.1. – How is corporate social responsibility applied? : Charitable works

Berliner Zeitung does not have a dedicated department but M. DuMont Schauberg who own the newspaper and the family of the owner, Neven DuMont, are involved in a number of charitable works to which they contribute financially, e.g. ”Wir helfen – die Lobby für Kinder in Not” (an association to help children in need), Spiridon-Neven-DuMont-Preis (a prize for young artists), Stifterrat des Wallraf-Richartz-Museums (a trust that supports the Wallraf-Richartz museum in Cologne), Alfred-Neven-DuMont-Stiftung (a foundation currently supporting a boarding school for underprivileged children in Nairobi), etc.