Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) has been in dialogue with the world for 60 years. Since its first day on air, it has transformed from a shortwave radio broadcaster to a multimedia organization.
"With its journalistic content in 30 languages, DW ensures Germany's multimedia presence in the world," said Erik Bettermann, Deutsche Welle's Director General. He added that competition for global audiences is becoming increasingly fierce due to an ever-growing amount of media products, especially in the field television. Twenty years ago there were only three internationally broadcast English-language TV programs; today there are nearly 30. "Germany needs a strong international media presence to communicate its stance," continued Bettermann. "And Deutsche Welle plays a crucial role in this."
In its first years of existence, DW's mission was to raise awareness of Germany as a democratic nation around the world and accompany the country's reintegration into the international community. Today, DW builds "bridges of understanding between peoples and cultures," contributing to the establishment of a global civil society.
With its variety of multimedia content, DW conveys “experiences of German society," said Bettermann. "DW's credibility is strengthened by its broad, multifaceted depiction of Germany.”
Bettermann pointed out that Germany’s open approach to dealing with its past is applauded around the world - as is the self-critical reporting on topics such as the murders committed by the neo-Nazi cell National Socialist Underground (NSU) and the upcoming court trial in this matter. Meanwhile, during the current financial and economic crisis in Europe, DW can help explain the German perspective through its reports in various local languages, for example in Greek.
Shaping Germany's image
"Deutsche Welle has accompanied the Federal Republic of Germany throughout its eventful history, told the story of its successful reunification to the amazed and sometimes concerned world and depicted its difficult path to increased responsibility in international foreign affairs. And DW conveyed to the world how much Germany wrangled with striking the right note, with respect to its history, when communicating with its partners around the world. With its journalistic work, DW has influenced Germany's image and actively shaped it. At the same time, it has always shown how the world sees Germany."
The continuous expansion of broadcast languages since the 1960s, the launch of satellite TV programming in 1992, the early entry into the online world starting in 1994 and the consolidation of all training programs under the roof of DW Akademie in 2004 - all these were milestones on the path to DW’s becoming a multimedia corporation, according to Bettermann. In early 2012, DW carried out a relaunch of its TV programming and website.
More than just news
Apart from conveying information, Bettermann sees culture and education as DW's main areas of responsibility - especially when it comes to the promotion of the German language. DW Akademie is the leading German organization for international media development. For example, it is supporting former state-owned broadcasters in their transition to becoming independent media in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Alongside DW's journalistic offerings, DW Akademie has also promoted the freedom of the media and freedom of speech in many other countries. As Bettermann summarized it, "we give a voice to those who suffer censorship and repression in their home countries." In this way, Deutsche Welle also sees itself as a voice for human rights.
Official celebration on June 17
DW will celebrate its anniversary on June 17, 2013 in Bonn with a ceremony during the Global Media Forum. Once again, over 2,000 participants from more than 100 countries are expected to attend the three-day interdisciplinary conference at the World Conference Center Bonn. Bernd Neumann, Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, will give a ceremonial speech titled "60 Years of Deutsche Welle - the Future of the International Broadcaster: Values for a Globalized World." Lutz Marmor will speak on behalf of the Association of Public Broadcasting Corporations in Germany (ARD) in his function as ARD Chairman and Director General of Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR).
In celebration of its anniversary, DW presents the milestones of its 60-year history in articles, images and audio material. A 30-minute TV documentary provides an overview of DW's development and mission as Germany's international broadcaster.