Annual Report

Back to the Future 

Corona has just speeded-up aspects of journalism that were already ripe for change. The dpa editorial office of the future will work differently. A vision. 

By Sven Gösmann

The digital world is a world that never ends. This means an important change for journalism too. The new Rubix-dpa is our answer to it. Our illustrator Victor Belser was inspired by the Dutch artist M.C. Escher (1898–1972) and his “Impossible Spaces”. However, the Rubix universe is a very much a possible space for the agency journalism of the future, which must permanently change and sharpen its perspectives.

A year ago, I was sitting in front of a blank monitor screen in my basement office at home in Berlin. This mysterious virus had just emptied our editorial offices. dpa sent couriers with monitor and laptops, webcams and headsets to editors’ homes everywhere. Operations continued as usual and in some cases things ran more smoothly than before in full newsrooms. 

Was that really a year ago? By the time this report appears at our shareholders’ meeting this year it will have been even longer. They call it the “new normal” but it already feels pretty old.

“Nothing will ever be the same again.” This is often said in the wake of historical events linked to memorable dates. In our case, we can agree on this date: March 17, 2020. That was when we informed our customers that we were evacuating our Berlin newsroom.

“For the time-being the dpa-newsroom is switching over to remote working,” news chief Froben Homburger announced on Twitter on March 17, 2020. The scenario seemed the most likely at the time.

What will journalism be like in a post-pandemic world? What will happen when the editorial offices start to fill up again – what will it be like for us and for our customers? That is why this is not intended as a regular report by the editor-in-chief on how well we have so far mastered the crisis. You and your editorial teams have often kindly confirmed this to us. And you have also repeatedly drawn our attention to situations where we have been remiss or where things have gone awry. You deserve even more gratitude for that because although we learn from our successes, we learn even more from our mistakes.

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