As deadly floods ravage parts of Germany and Belgium, public broadcasters play a significant role in reaching the entire population with critical and lifesaving information.

More than 100 people have died and hundreds more are missing as unprecedented rainfall caused significant flooding in Europe. Germany and Belgium have been most hard-hit, although Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and Switzerland have also been badly affected. Authorities in both Germany and Belgium have launched large-scale search and rescue missions and evacuation orders.

Public broadcasters have played a critical role during this crisis. Their rapid responses have gone beyond news coverage. At ZDF, the broadcaster has given climate change coverage prominence on its homepage and has broadcast a number of special in-depth reports on the disaster, relief, and recovery efforts. ZDF will also broadcast a themed evening on the disaster, covering the consequences and causes in several programmes. homepage featuring extensive climate change coverage. 19 July 2021

Meanwhile, VRT has partnered with other media outlets in supporting a Red Cross media campaign to raise donations for those affected by the floods. The public broadcaster has also compiled a dossier offering useful information, such as what citizens should do when electricity returns; handling insurance claims; and how citizens can help those affected.

It is during such crises that public broadcasters demonstrate their value as trusted news organisations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 84% of German citizens over the age of 14 considered public media important or very important. In Belgium, public broadcasters remain the most trusted and widely used media brands. This trust is secured through the combination of extensive reach (on- and offline), well-resourced infrastructure and core values of accountability, quality journalism, accessibility and public funding, providing citizens with essential and at times, lifesaving information.

It is these factors that enable public broadcasters to provide factual, up-to-date information on staying safe, accessing relief efforts, and lifesaving communication from authorities for those directly affected, and around-the-clock coverage for those watching from afar.

Our thoughts go to all of those affected by these devastating floods.

Header Image: Flooding Erftstadt-Blessem, Germany 16 July 2021. Credit: Rhein-Erft-Kreis/@BezRegKoeln