dpa celebrates its seventieth anniversary in 2019. This blog post is the starting signal for our communication campaign. Under the Hashtag #dpa70 we want to take you on a journey through our eventful history. But also through the exciting here and now of an international news agency. We talked to journalists, communication experts and artists about dpa. For 70 days until 18 August – the founding day of the agency – we spoke on the social networks. With statements, pictures, videos and more. Our campaign website 70.dpa.com will be launched in a few days.
Such an anniversary is certainly a good opportunity to look back. But it is much more important to me to look forward. In a future with a rapid succession of social and technical developments, many of the values we are familiar with at least seem to be being put to the test. But our values are the cornerstones of our identity. How we want to live them have to be constantly reinterpreted, especially in times of change.
dpa is of course a company with convincing values: As Germany’s independent news agency, it reports reliably for its owners and customers, without any influence from political, social or economic forces. That is laid down in the company’s founding documents of 1949. With around 180 owners, mostly media companies, its reporting is neutral and balanced. dpa thus provides the fundamental supply of news for a society, which then makes democratic decisions on the basis of facts. That is the meaning that underlies all our actions. By providing us with this concept, the founders of dpa have done a great job.
Common ground: Win-win as design principle
dpa was founded in 1949 as an amalgamation of the agencies in the Western occupation zones and then became the property of the German media. This involved to two processes of a formative nature: the unification of three nations to form a joint news agency in Germany and the decision of media with different orientations to become owners of a joint company. The potential for an overarching agreement on common goals is one of dpa’s strengths, which will become even more important in the future than it is today.
dpa is the only operational organization in which practically all types of media – private or public – have a seat and vote. In view of the challenge posed by international platforms, the dpa is an institution that can be used at any time to organize national closing of ranks that are relevant to media policy. The supervisory board, in which all groups are represented, forms an efficient body for opinion formation and direction.
This forward-looking construction contains something very special for a commercial enterprise: dpa’s strategy and economic understanding always aim to bring about win-win situations. This applies not only to its members and customers, but also to the entire industry and the quality of the news information itself. All of dpa’s important projects are aimed at supporting all those involved as broadly as possible and improving their development opportunities. This construction principle, which was already defined in 1949, is becoming more important in times of digital transformation than it ever was before.
Reliability as the currency of the digital age
For dpa and our entire industry 2018 was a year in which we were able to experience how „climate change“ had fully seized the social discourse. False information, hair-raising interpretations and expressions of hatred and aggression are no longer mishaps in the public debate. They have become components of strategies for the enforcement of particular interests. We see social media platforms that behave like Goethe’s sorcerer’s apprentice, who no longer has a grip on the brooms he has brought to life. In the unbelievably large number of participants and the sheer volume of communication, it’s seems no longer possible to control the abuse. This is an eminent threat to our liberal social order, based on the consensus that our decisions are based on verifiable facts.
Independence through economic strength
dpa is one of the largest independent news agencies in the world. It is highly valued in the international news environment for the independence of its reporting. The fact that we deliver a positive result year after year proves that we can develop under our own steam. The vast majority of news agencies worldwide are now state-owned or even under state influence. A change of management immediately after a change of government is often common practice. Being independent requires great economic efforts. Especially in our international markets, we compete with other agencies that receive massive government support.
Customer benefit as continuous proof of quality
Working „for owners and customers“ means putting the customers’ benefits first. That was the case in 1949 and will be in the future. In the narrow sense, benefit means making a contribution to more turnover, lower costs or innovative development with high-quality services. Due to the difficult situation of many companies in the industry, a broad field of activity will open up in the future. The dpa is particularly strong when it comes to services or infrastructures where joint action leads to better results.
Great tradition – strong future
dpa is a special company in many respects. It is built on strong values that harmonize seamlessly with the principles of our liberal society. The central task of its teams is to apply these values to the ever-changing challenges of media and information markets. The quality of the people who make up dpa, our current development and, above all, our plans for the coming years make us confident that the great tradition of dpa will lead us toward a future that is at least equally as strong.
This is exactly what we want to explain with the help of our #dpa70 campaign. Follow our hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or simply visit our #dpa70 website in the next 70 days.
Peter Kropsch, CEO of dpa and President of EANA (European Alliance of News Agencies)
XING: Peter Kropsch