Contribution to Society – or C2S – has become something of a buzzword recently. It is also highly relevant in the SRG SSR context. If we look at SWI swissinfo.ch (SWI), the breadth of the contribution that this SRG Enterprise Unit makes to society is very clear.
One group of beneficiaries are Swiss citizens abroad, who are served by SWI. There are some 775,000 Swiss living internationally. SWI content offers them updates on day-to-day events at home, in-depth features on focus topics, and detailed commentary ahead of national referenda, in addition to much more. Rooted in SRG's constitutional remit and its charter, reporting isn't just factual, but also presents and appropriately expresses differing views, such as the "for" and "against" arguments in referenda. This objective coverage is of crucial importance to opinion-forming among our fellow citizens living outside of Switzerland.
In many cases, SWI is also able to complement the work of Presence Switzerland. Presence Switzerland – a unit within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) – is responsible for promoting Switzerland's visibility abroad, and for explaining Swiss political concerns and positions to a foreign public. The journalistic work of SWI ideally supports the activities of Presence Switzerland in areas such as Swiss banking confidentiality, immigration policy, and relations with the EU.
SWI has also become an important voice for Switzerland within the international community following the decision to cease all Swiss Radio International programming. Offered in a total of ten languages, the online information provided by SWI goes out to a very broad readership. This includes regions and countries whose populations do not have access to sources of information that are reliable, objective and of a high quality. SWI coverage is in great demand in these regions, especially at times of political and social tension. In addition to the high quality of its journalism, SWI’s credibility also rests on the fact that its coverage does not originate in a country with any specific political or territorial agenda.
SWI also repeatedly bridges a gap by educating its readership about our country, while also helping to manage its image. Its treatment of the topic of direct democracy is an impressive example of this. There is great interest abroad in the Swiss political system, but very little is actually understood. SWI’s explanation of our direct democracy to an interested international readership is an important, indeed exemplary, service to society.
The way in which SWI passes on information is also an example of its best-practice approach. In addition to the website, SWI gives users the option of receiving newsletters containing the week's top articles. It goes without saying that SRG's international service is also very active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This has resulted in lively dialogue with our users, which is another important element in the C2S remit referred to above.
This brief appreciation of the work of SWI is intended to demonstrate that we – Switzerland – need SWI, because of all the good it does for our citizens and our country.
Oscar Knapp, Chairman of the SWI swissinfo.ch committee