SWI swissinfo.ch is the international unit of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), providing independent reporting on Switzerland. With its ten languages, SWI swissinfo.ch potentially reaches about 75% of the world's population.
- Who is SWI swissinfo.ch
- Executive and Editorial Board
- Journalism Principles – accountability
- External accountability
- Professionalism – recruitment, staff welfare, diversity
- Ten languages, three roles
- Swiss Abroad
1. Who is SWI swissinfo.ch
SWI swissinfo.ch is on online news and information service, founded in 1999. It is the successor to Swiss Radio International (SRI), which began shortwave broadcasts in 1935 as the Swiss Short Wave Service. In the Second World War, it was often the only link to the homeland for about 200,000 Swiss expatriates. Through the war and much of the 20th century, the shortwave broadcasts also underlined Swiss neutrality and the country’s democratic positions.
As part of its public service mandate, SWI swissinfo.ch provides independent reporting on Swiss politics, business, science, culture and society, and, additionally, reports on issues that have particular relevance for Swiss citizens living abroad, to engage with them and assist them in exercising their political rights in Switzerland.
Special focus is placed on the nation’s system of direct democracy, Swiss foreign policy, cutting-edge research, multinational corporations and developments out of International Geneva. Context is key to ensure stories are understood beyond Switzerland’s borders. Expert analysis of important international events also accounts for a significant part of the coverage.
Commitment – Radio and Television Act and SBC Charter
SWI swissinfo.ch must adhere to the provisions set out in the Federal Radio and Television Act (RTVG) and the SBC Charterexternal link. Therefore, its reporting must reflect a diversity of opinions and cultures, and must be independent from any political or economic interests.
The SBC is not a state-owned institution, but an association, consisting of four sections representing Switzerland’s language regions, with the sections numbering more than 23,000 members.
The SBC is financed largely through licence fees that must be paid by all Swiss households and companies. SWI swissinfo.ch receives 50% its funding from the licence fees, and 50% from a federal grant, administered by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM).
SWI swissinfo.ch is one of four news and broadcasting channels mandated to provide a service for foreign audiences. The others are: tvsvizzera.itexternal link, TV5 Mondeexternal link and 3Satexternal link.
2. Executive and Editorial Boards
Larissa M. Bieler
Director and Editor in Chief
Chief Financial Officer
Head, Information Technology
Head, Human Resources
Reto Gysi von Wartburg
Deputy Editor in Chief
Executive Editor, Format Development
Executive Editor, Audience and Innovation
Head, Multimedia Department
Veronica De Vore
Head, English Department
Head, Swiss Department
3. Journalism Principles – accountability
All relevant voices are taken into account when selecting sources, to enable the public to make an informed opinion. This balance must be provided within the overall reporting on any particular subject. The legal requirement for objectivity, diversity of opinion and transparency demands particular diligence ahead of referenda and votes on initiatives.
We disclose our sources and provide the first and last names of contact persons, as well as their vested interests, if relevant. Reasons for anonymity must be justified, otherwise we will not use them. Journalists may not directly use sources if the source’s identity is unknown to them. Any vested interests on the part of our journalists will be disclosed within the article.
As a rule, the publication of news requires two mutually independent sources, or the original source of the information is cited in the news story. The credibility of the sources and their information must be verifiable in all cases. The journalist must identify themselves as such when communicating with potential sources. In line with data protection rules, a conversation may only be recorded if the other person gives prior consent.
SWI swissinfo.ch editorial staff follow the “Declarations and Directives on the Duties and Rights of the Journalist” of the Swiss Press Council, which set out responsibilities regarding truthfulness, transparency, expertise, verification, appropriateness, fairness and impartiality. These values also apply to information disseminated on social media, whether on official SWI swissinfo.ch platforms, or journalists’ private pages or feeds.
Whether in text, audio or visual reporting, we pay particular attention to ensuring equal representation of women and men, in all areas of our reporting.
(Read our full editorial directives and principles hereexternal link)
Errors must be corrected immediately. Corrections to content will be made and disclosed within the article. Incorrect spellings, typos etc. will be made directly within the item itself; a note highlighting the correction is not required. When users write to us to point out errors, whether by mail, in our comments section or social media channel, we must react swiftly, transparently, and objectively.
The Editorial Board may seek legal advice if it receives requests from the public to withdraw or delete content.
Contact our newsroom english[at]swissinfo.ch
5. External Accountability
a. SWI swissinfo.ch committee of the SRG SSR Board of Directors
The committee is appointed by the SRG SSR Board of Directors. It plays a coordinating role and issues recommendations. In cooperation with the government, the committee drafts the mandate of SWI swissinfo.ch, and makes proposals for its implementation. It recommends candidates for the post of director in conjunction with the SRG SSR Director General and can request a change of location of the main offices of SWI swissinfo.ch.
The committee provides oversight of the annual report on quality and public service on behalf of the SRG SSR Board of Directors. It also determines the content strategy. Pursuant to this and the financial parameters defined by the SRG SSR Board of Directors, the committee allocates the budget and elects the members of the Public Council.
Alice Šáchová-Kleisli (chairwoman)
b. Public Council
In accordance with SWI swissinfo.ch statutes, the Public Council oversees SWI swissinfo.ch's responsibility to its audiences. As part of regular reviews, the Public Council advises management and proposes changes to content to better serve the audiences of SWI swissinfo.ch. It focuses its attention on quality, relevance, diversity and originality.
- Urs Ziswiler (president)
Former Swiss ambassador
Mother tongue: German
- Diccon Bewes (vice-president)
Mother tongue: English
- Marina Karlin
Director of the “Russian Switzerland” magazine
Editor and journalist
Mother tongue: Russian
- Chok Woo
Engineer and manager
Mother tongue: Chinese
- Cinzia Dal Zotto
Professor at the University of Neuchâtel
Mother tongue: Italian
c. Ombudswoman’s Office
The Ombudswoman’s office liaises between the public and people and institutions affected by media reports and the editorial teams at SWI swissinfo.ch. The Ombudswoman deals with complaints pertaining to violation of the content-related provisions of Articles 4-6 of the Federal Law on Radio and Television, examines them and endeavours to find a solution acceptable to both parties. Anyone is entitled to lodge a complaint about editorial content published on SWI swissinfo.ch. Complaints must be submitted in writing. A short explanation should be provided as to why the editorial content is believed to contain errors or unfair bias. The Ombudswoman’s office acts independently in performing its work. On an administrative level, it reports to the Public Council.
Contact and further information:
Sylvia Egli von Matt, Ombudswoman
6. Professionalism – recruitment, staff welfare, diversity
In 2019, women accounted for 45% of the 6,000-strong SBC workforce. At management level, women accounted for 27 % of all posts. The SBC’s stated goal is to increase this to 30% by 2020. At SWI women make up 40% of the Executive Board, and about 40% of editorial department heads. Slightly more than half (52.2%) of SBC staff work part time (managers: 14.5%). To increase the number of part-time managers, the SBC is encouraging part-time contracts for all new appointments.
Since 2013, the SBC has participated in the federal government's equal pay scheme. As of 2019, women’s salaries were 3.7 % lower than men’s. The SBC is working with the Swiss Syndicate of Media Professionals (SSM) to further reduce the difference.
Around 50 interns are hired each year at the SBC as part of a 12-24 month programme to provide on-the-job training. Short-term schemes of one to six months are offered to an additional 200 young professionals each year. The SBC also funds journalism courses at media schools in German and French-speaking Switzerland (CFJM, AJM), and organises journalism courses in Italian-speaking Switzerland. Like the SBC, SWI swissinfo.ch provides targeted training and development courses, job enrichment and exchange programmes to further staff development and advance employees’ careers.
The SBC, including SWI swissinfo.ch, supports and promotes mobile, flexible and location-independent working. Employees are entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave or 2 weeks of paternity leave. In general, employees can apply for contributions towards childcare. Occupational health professionals support a wide range of activities and services offered to staff, some of which have been developed in partnership with regional healthcare commissions and sports clubs.
The SBC created a Diversity Board in 2019, with the active participation of SWI swissinfo.ch. Board members have been tasked with crafting a comprehensive policy to take into account many factors including gender, ethnicity, and age, using as a reference national or international standards.
7. Ten languages, three roles
The national languages, German, French and Italian, are grouped together to form a single editorial unit. The "Swiss" department's role is to provide expert reporting on national politics and societal issues. The English service's team of journalists focus on articles that highlight Switzerland's role in the world, whether as a tax haven, or major player in everything from pharmaceuticals to commodities, or its unique dual education system that has also become an export good. The English service also produces several stories a day from its news desk. The language services, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese, select stories produced in a Swiss language or English that are most relevant for their target regions, and provide the necessary context so they are understood, say, in Buenos Aires or Tokyo. These editorial teams also report on relations between Switzerland and countries and the people in their language region or regions.
8. Swiss Abroad
SWI swissinfo.ch's reporting should facilitate closer ties between Swiss living abroad and their homeland. Historically, SWI swissinfo.ch - first the Swiss Short Wave Service and then Swiss Radio International - has been closely associated with the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA). Both are committed to providing a service for Swiss expats. Besides its regular editorial coverage, SWI swissinfo.ch delivers daily news and information tailored for the Swiss abroad via its interactive SWI Plus app (iOS, Android). In 2018 there were over 760,000 Swiss citizens living abroad, of which 140,000 were registered to vote.
SWI swissinfo.ch partners with many organisations and associations which focus on issues relevant beyond Switzerland's borders. Events and public debates are often the centrepiece of the partnerships. SWI swissinfo.ch involvement can include coverage of partnership events in several languages, as well as our on-site presence. If you would like more information, please send us a mail.
SWI swissinfo.ch partners include:
Zentrum für Demokratie Aarauexternal link (Centre for Democracy - Aarau)
easyvote external link(German, French, Italian)
Public broadcasting world partners: