Journalistic Standards

„We cannot make good news out of bad practice.“ (Edward R. Murrow)

1. Our Mission

THE EUROPEAN aims to bring critical and quality journalism online. We believe that the shift from print to online has resulted in far-reaching changes to the journalistic profession and necessitates new editorial approaches without eroding journalistic standards. We can still distinguish good journalism from bad journalism.

The editorial integrity of THE EUROPEAN is the magazine’s biggest asset. It remains the yardstick by which we measure our editorial and financial decisions.

THE EUROPEAN is committed to debate journalism. We publish the voices that matter. Their relevance is the product of their expertise, their social or political influence, and the quality of their arguments.

2. Independence

THE EUROPEAN is an independent magazine. No shares are owned by other publishing houses, political parties, religious organizations, unions, or other private interest groups. The magazine does not have an ideological or political slant. Each author represents only themself and their own opinion.

THE EUROPEAN maintains a network of national and international partner organizations. THE EUROPEAN does not enter journalistic partnerships with private interest groups. Customers of the consulting unit of THE EUROPEAN PUBLISHING GmbH have no influence over editorial planning and content.

3. Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of interest can arise from a wide range of situations. All employees are asked to avoid situations that might damage the integrity of THE EUROPEAN or create wrong impressions about the magazine. Transparency is key: If in doubt, information that might constitute a conflict of interest, or might be interpreted as such, should be publicly disclosed.

Conflicts of interest can arise from monetary compensation, non-monetary gifts and services in excess of standard journalistic practices (e.g., the provision of free samples for book reviews, or of free tickets to press screenings). No employee of THE EUROPEAN may accept offers that aim to influence the magazine’s editorial process or put editorial independence into doubt. The final arbiter is the editor-in-chief.

Debate journalism does not lay claim to objectivity. We strive to present all relevant voices and the full range of relevant opinions within our debates. Some of our authors stand to gain professionally, personally, or financially from the outcome of discussions in which they participate. We try to err on the side of transparency: The interests of an author must be clear to the reader at all times. It is the editors’ task to provide the relevant biographical information alongside each article.

Special care must be taken to avoid conflicts of interest when commissioning contributions. This includes the willingness to consider authors with whom the editor might disagree, regardless of their ideological and political orientation or their membership in certain organizations. Excluded from consideration are only those authors whose personal opinions or allegiances clearly contradict basic constitutional principles and show disrespect for the established canon of civil and human rights.

THE EUROPEAN takes a clear stand against nepotism. No employee of THE EUROPEAN may commission authors because they stand to gain personally from a contribution. No employee may offer preferential treatment to an author as compensation for other services or may share confidential information in exchange for a submitted article. No employee may promise that a published article will be co-published by partner organizations of THE EUROPEAN. Outside people or companies who have a financial stake in THE EUROPEAN may not write for the magazine. This includes representatives of companies that have purchased advertisements or consulting services from THE EUROPEAN PUBLISHING GmbH.

Columnists are free in their selection of topics and in their opinions, except in cases where a columnist has a demonstrated business interest in a particular topic. Columnists may not use their articles to advertise specific services or products in which they have a financial stake. The final arbiter is the editor-in-chief. Columnists are part of the extended editorial network of THE EUROPEAN and should interpret this Code of Conduct accordingly.

No employee of THE EUROPEAN may accept lobbying work. To protect the magazine’s independence, employees may not hold elected office beyond simple rank-and-file positions in political parties, associations, churches, religious organizations or charitable organizations. Employees may be members of political parties. The final arbiter is the editor-in-chief. Relevant memberships and positions must be indicated in the employee’s biography. No employee of THE EUROPEAN may seek work in corporate publishing or act as a ghostwriter on topics that are also covered by THE EUROPEAN.

4. Separation of newsroom and management

The editorial department and the business side of the publishing house are strictly separated. Employees of the sales team or the consulting unit may not seek to influence editorial decisions at any time. Business considerations may not impact editorial planning and the selection of topics for the print magazine and the website.

No full-time editor may negotiate with potential advertising or consulting customers or engage in consulting work themself. Strategic and content-driven media partnerships are exempted from this rule. However, a media partnership does not grant the partner organization the right to influence editorial decisions at THE EUROPEAN and does not guarantee the publication of articles by representatives of the partner organization.

Once again, transparency is key. If an employee of THE EUROPEAN is offered paid outside engagements – for example, as a paid expert or as a speaker –, the offer must be disclosed to, and sanctioned by, the editor-in-chief before accepting it. The editor-in-chief reports any outside engagements to the managing editors.

5. Informational integrity and confidentiality

Confidential information may not be disclosed to anyone except other employees of THE EUROPEAN and may not be used for personal gain. The gathering of information serves the sole purpose of supporting editorial work and the future development of the magazine. Each employee signs a non-disclosure agreement.

6. Copyright

THE EUROPEAN is committed to upholding existing legal copyright norms. All images reference the copyright holder and may not be used without explicit permission. Modifications of images are indicated. All quotes used in articles are sourced. If possible, the reference includes a hyperlink to the original source.

7. Licensing and Syndication

THE EUROPEAN holds the publishing rights of articles on its website and in its print magazine. Non-commercial uses of published content – for example, on the personal websites of authors – are usually possible. Journalistic platforms and publications may use short excerpts as long as a reference and backlink to the original source are included. In each case, THE EUROPEAN asks to be contacted prior to re-publication of a piece of content. THE EUROPEAN does not usually syndicate content that has previously appeared elsewhere. Exceptions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

8. Corrections

To be human is to err. THE EUROPEAN corrects factual errors before and after publication as far as feasible. If a published article is substantially edited after publication, it will be indicated below the text. Special cases and editorial decisions may be discussed on the magazine’s blog,

9. Readers’ Comments

THE EUROPEAN invites its readers to participate in debates by submitting comments. Such comments should aim to engage with the content and the argument of opinion articles, interviews, regular columns or other readers’ comments. THE EUROPEAN reserves the right to refuse publication, or edit prior to publication, those comments that resemble advertisement, include ad hominem attacks or defamations, violate existing law and ignore basic rules of grammar and spelling. THE EUROPEAN may at any time move to a system that requires editorial authorization prior to publication of readers’ comments.

10. Editorial Planning

THE EUROPEAN aims to publish intelligent and controversial opinions, to highlight new perspectives and alternative interpretations, and to propel debates forward through editorial guidance. If an editor has doubts about the merits of an article, the burden of proof does not fall on them.

As part of the editorial planning process, editors ask themselves (at least) for questions:
1. Is the topic newsworthy?
2. Does it have societal relevance?
3. For whom is this topic relevant?
4. Is it advisable or necessary to critically debate the topic?

Newsworthiness does not imply sensationalism. Poignant, opinionated articles must not be superficial or sensationalist. It is the explicit task of the editors of THE EUROPEAN to uphold and protect the magazine’s commitment to quality. Editors have control over the selection of topics, the commissioning of authors and the framing of debates. Through their work, they advance the journalistic mission of THE EUROPEAN.

THE EUROPEAN expects all editors to commit themselves to this task. It is the responsibility of each editor to read widely, discuss critically, and cultivate an open mind. Editorial quality presupposes editorial competence.

THE EUROPEAN publishes debates of two different kinds:
1. Newsworthy topics that spark controversial discussions. They are the magazine’s bread and butter; they guarantee the journalistic relevance of THE EUROPEAN. The editorial staff is committed to the coverage of current events, to the introduction of new arguments and the highlighting of new perspectives.
2. Topics of general interest. Many interesting and important topics don’t generate daily headlines but warrant critical discussion and reflection. THE EUROPEAN aims to focus on those topics as well, for example through the regular publication of longform interviews with important thinkers, movers and shakers.

The weekly editorial conference is the primary forum for the introduction and discussion of new ideas. Its main purpose is long-term editorial planning. Newsworthy topics are addressed on a da-to-day basis. Each editor is expected to be familiar with current events and controversies, and with the political and cultural schedule of the coming week. Internet discussions are encouraged. Again: Editorial quality presupposes editorial competence. Critical journalism presupposed critical journalists.

THE EUROPEAN relies on the personal initiative of its editors. Ideas for debates, interviews or the selection of authors should be actively communicated.

11. Commissioning

During the selection and commissioning of authors, the editorial focus is on the quality of the expected submissions and their relevance to the magazine’s editorial schedule. It must be evident why a certain author is writing about a certain topic at a certain time. THE EUROPEAN considers authors’ expertise, reputation and prominence. We want authors who have something to say.

Responsibility for the selection and commissioning of an author rests with the editor assigned to the debate. They must become familiar with the author’s work, publications, arguments and reputation. Editors may not agree with an author’s opinion, but they must be convinced of the quality of their work.

THE EUROPEAN seeks authors who can grapple with complex issues, and communicate them in an accessible fashion to a general audience. We want experts, not phrasemongers. Well-written articles are often more interesting and more accessible than technocratic writing. The quality of published content is the yardstick by which editors measure their success. Press releases, or articles that read like press releases, do not constitute valuable journalistic contributions.

THE EUROPEAN is no place for the dissemination of hatred and defamation – neither in the comments section nor in articles. We value the art of controversial and intelligent debate. The final arbiter over the publication of content is the editor-in-chief.

Editors may reject submissions or ask for substantive revisions. Insignificant articles, inflammatory submissions or articles that stray too far from the topic will be rejected. Articles whose primary purpose appears to be advertisement – for example, an article by a CEO that largely focuses on their own company – will be rejected as well. The final arbiter is the editor-in-chief. The more time and effort are invested into the careful selection of authors and topics, the higher the quality of submissions.

Editors may work with authors to sharpen the language and style of a submission. Many authors of THE EUROPEAN are experts in their field but not necessarily accustomed to journalistic writing. Editors may not alter an author’s argument.

12. Interviews

Interviews form the third content pillar of THE EUROPEAN, alongside debates and regular columns. Interviews aim to shed light on current events and “big picture” questions, to reveal complexities and reflect critically. Past interview topics include the philosophy of the internet, the role of religion in contemporary society, the future of diplomacy, the social significance of debt, or the limits of human rationality. THE EUROPEAN seeks out prominent thinkers with interesting ideas and interdisciplinary arguments.

13. Additional Editorial Content

Headlines, teasers, fact sheets and author biographies are the sole responsibility of the editorial staff of THE EUROPEAN. They ensure transparency and frame debates and articles. Authors are invited to submit suggestions. However, THE EUROPEAN reserves the right to alter or reject headline and teaser proposals at any time and without explanation.

Author biographies are an essentially component of the magazine’s quest for transparent classification. They highlight an author’s accomplishments and present any information that editors deem relevant in the context of the published article. If authors stand to benefit personally, professionally or financially from the outcome of a discussion, this information must be revealed in the biographic statement. This includes membership in organizations, parties and associations, financial stakes, and public appointments. Authors may submit a biography, however, editors may not copy and paste it without further background research. THE EUROPEAN welcomes reader feedback on individual authors.

THE EUROPEAN may put together fact sheets that highlight important information about a given topic to the extent that editors consider such information a prerequisite for the debate. Editors must take special care to cross-check and verify information. If disagreement exists about numbers or statistics, this should be explicitly noted in the fact sheet.

14. Conflict Resolution

THE EUROPEAN is proud of its internal culture of discussion and debate. Editors have the right to have their opinion respected. Discrimination is prohibited. In conflict situations, the editor-in-chief or another employee may act as mediators.