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Telling the truth: re-establishing trust in business and the media

Annual Review 2017-2018

June 2018

The business world has been rocked in recent times by several high profile scandals – ranging from fake data to false accounting and bribery – which erode public trust in many corporate brands.

At the same time, the global media has been besieged by allegations of false reporting as misinformation, often spread by individuals, organisations or governments with a political agenda, increasingly blurs the line between real and fake news.

Both topics were tackled at a high profile event in Davos hosted by CMS, in conjunction with Germany’s leading weekly newspaper, Die Zeit.

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser spoke about ethics in business and a company’s role in society. He named global migration, climate change and the fourth industrial revolution as some of the big issues facing businesses and society.

In response to changing government energy policies, the jobs and roles required in Siemens’ energy business are changing significantly, resulting in a shift in the workforce. However, the company is showing commitment to its employees. Kaeser said, “Wouldn’t the natural thing be to talk about how we can give our people an opportunity through requalification? We will give them a future, but we need to act together to get this done.”

In the same session, leading media experts – including Martin Baron (Executive Editor, The Washington Post), Zanny Minton Beddoes (Editor-in-Chief, The Economist), Lisa-Maria Neudert (Researcher, Oxford Internet Institute) and Dan Tench (Partner and Head of Media Law, CMS) – discussed the sources and spread of fake news as well as the important role of quality journalism.

The panel agreed that, while overall trust in the media has declined, readers will support quality journalism because they want trustworthy, authoritative analyses of world events. However, the panellists felt that the mainstream media, in particular, has to act in a way that deserves trust and to recommit to its mission, which is telling the truth.

No doubt, there have been several high-profile ethical failures in business and media over the last months. Our discussions highlighted that this has fuelled the need to find solutions, beyond simply fulfilling legal requirements, to avoid these incidents. As a result, companies are increasingly implementing measures to improve their compliance and are generally becoming more aware of their social responsibility. With the spread of fake news, mainstream media outlets are now focusing on building trust through quality journalism.
Cornelius Brandi, Executive Chairman at CMS

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