How far is too far? – Reporting about the German airplane crash

AllemagneThe dreadful news reached us on Thursday morning. A German airplane on the way from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, Germany crashed in the French Alps. All 150 passengers on board died, including a group of 10th grade students from germany. Why the germanwings airplane started a 8 minute descent in the middle of the flight was unclear until the Blackbox was found and detected. Before the information was officially confirmed and all the most read newspaper in germany called “BILD” published a close up picture of the copilot with his full name and portrayed him as (“psycho”)- perpetrator. Furthermore, they published full names, pictures and personal backgrounds of the passengers and their families.

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“149 + 1 Victims of privacy and confidentiality?”(cartoon by jotka)

Although the detection of the black box confirmed the assumption – the copilot had purposely crashed the plane when the pilot exited the cockpit – many people were indignant about the paper’s reporting. They called it unprofessional and irrespectful of the families rights to privacy. Germans are really big on privacy – this already caused tensions with the US during the NSA Affair. The Media is usually very careful especially with personal information and independent stories. No wonder that this I dare say “American” type of reporting caused an outrage.

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In front of the school of the german students who died in the airplane crash. Reporters (mostly from bild) badgered and interrogated other students and relatives.

It all started with gas station in a tiny village. On Friday after the crash they posted a status on their facebook wall saying:  “There will be no “BILD ZEITUNG” on our shelves today. We don’t support this vendetta!” Within a couple of hours this post had 100.000 likes and more gas stations and kiosks followed their lead under the hashtag #BILDBOYKOTT. Even the German finance minister announced on twitter that the TTIP conference would also take part in the Boycott. It went viral online and posed once again the question of the year: How far can the media go? Where does the freedom of the press end and where does the right to privacy begin?NG2

“We don’t support further “opinion – making” and will cease the sale of the “BILD”.

– by Pauline F.