European Federation of Journalists

Germany: New website to inform journalists about their employer protections

Credits: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Journalists in Germany can now find out whether their employers or clients have joined the code of conduct to better protect journalists via the website Schutzkodex. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins its German affiliates, the German Journalists Association (DJV) and the German Journalists Union (dju in ver.di), in welcoming this further development of the initiative to better protect journalists.

Violence against media workers is increasing in Germany as well as throughout Europe, whether it be hate speech, (online) threats or physical attacks in the streets. This strongly imperils journalists and press freedom in general. Consequently, if more and more journalists turn their backs to such dangerous work environments, freedom of information is endangered. “Therefore, it is all the more important that media houses acknowledge their responsibility”, said Frank Überall, DJV chair.

Against this backdrop, in spring 2021, an alliance of journalists’ organisations, media unions and advisory institutions launched the protection code. Media companies signing up to the code declare their willingness to implement important standards to protect their employees and freelancers. The code includes a number of practical measures, such as permanent contact persons at the employing organisation as well as psychological, legal and financial support for those affected in the event of verbal or physical violence including their families.

“Media companies have to fulfill their duty of care for their permanent and freelance workers, who now carry out their work at great risk to themselves and their families. The best way to do this is to join the protection code and implement it consistently,” said Monique Hofmann, the General Secretary of dju in ver.di.

Now, journalists can easily check whether their employer or client already joined the code of conduct. At the moment, the media outlets SPIEGEL, ZEITZEIT ONLINEFrankfurter RundschaudpaSüddeutsche Zeitungtaz and Südwestdeutsche Medienholding have joined the initiative. Media houses can easily follow via the website.

The new website also offers online get-togethers for small groups of affected journalists in a safe space. The next meeting will take place on 22 March 2022 and registrations are open.

Renate Schroeder, EFJ Director said: “This is a good  practice hopefully to be followed by other affiliates throughout Europe. Now it is up to German media houses to join this important code of conduct and show they mean it seriously with protecting their staff. It is indeed high time!”

In 2021, the Media Freedom Rapid Response mechanism monitored 119 attacks against press workers and media in Germany, a strong increase compared to the previous two years. The number of unreported cases is expected to be much higher.