If the public likes it, it must be good? Yes, but there's more to it than that
SRG has to meet stringent ethical and quality requirements and uses a variety of different tools for quality assurance purposes.
People often talk about quality and how important it is. But what does quality mean in relation to SRG's journalistic products? The Charter lays down four central quality criteria:
- A sense of responsibility – What does this mean for SRG?
Responsible reporting means that media professionals are fully aware of their remit and the fact that this is important for a functioning democracy. They are familiar with the legal principles and respect ethical media standards. They are familiar with the content of applicable regulations and adhere to them. Before making important decisions, they weigh up the options appropriately, even if time is short.
- Credibility – What does this mean for SRG?
SRG is credible if the products it publishes are accepted as valid by a large majority of people who hold differing views. Credible reporting also shows the pros and cons of conflicts, contributes to the free shaping of opinion and does not have a hidden agenda. SRG gains credibility by not making mistakes in its reporting. If mistakes occur nevertheless, SRG acknowledges them openly and rectifies them if necessary.
- Relevance – What does this mean for SRG?
Relevance means prioritizing the general over the personal, and placing social issues before individual and particular matters. Relevant reporting is also based on how topical an issue is and its political, economic, cultural and social significance. A physical or cultural proximity to the audience's everyday lives can also create relevance.
- Professional journalism – ?What does this mean for SRG?
Professional media work involves reporting matters objectively. In other words: considering all the available facts and positions and conveying them in an accurate, balanced manner so that the audience can form their own opinions about the situation. Media professionals are aware of their legal constraints, respect ethical standards and know their job. The key to professional journalism is education and ongoing training.
In order to implement these guidelines, SRG produces quality standards for content and format – its "Minimum Programming Quality Standards". SRG staff can also make use of additional internal and external guidelines – see the documents referenced on the next level.
The Charter also stresses that SRG must not measure its acceptance primarily in terms of market share.
So what does SRG understand by "programme quality"? Three aspects are important for SRG here:
- Its social mandate
How well is SRG fulfilling the terms of its Charter? An indication of the answer to this question can be found in SRG's internal programme statistics, the findings of its Public Councils and the programme analyses carried out on behalf of Ofcom.
- Its internal objectives
How well are we meeting our own standards, such as guidelines, training standards, etc?
How well are we meeting our strategic corporate objectives and goals? SRG's internal statistics and reports provide an indication of the answer.
- Its audience
How well do our programme services go down with audiences? Ratings and regular surveys provide an indication of the answer.
So anyone who says "Quality is what audiences like" is only partially right. As an enterprise with a public mandate, SRG naturally strives to reach as broad an audience as possible with a diverse range of services. However, it must not measure acceptance primarily in terms of market share.