The German press

gerflagIf you have ever walked through a german train station, you will have noticed the huge newsstands with never ending arrays of Newspapers and magazines. With around 330 daily newspapers and an additional 25 weekly editions, Germany is the biggest market of newspapers in europe and the 5th biggest in the world. Here Pressefreiheit (Freedom of the Press) is the 5th of the 19 fundamental rights found in the Constitution, and is of great significance. Media or the press is now often considered the 4th power of government.  In the 3rd Reich and later in the DDR, the press was controlled and subjected to propaganda, but has since been protected in their freedom, both by the government and the entire population. There is even a mandatory fee for public radio and television.
Recently however, the big newspapers and public broadcasting stations, aiming to give objective reports have been highly criticized. Many people, especially right-wing conservatives, felt that their coverage on the Migrant Crisis, and terrorism in Europe had been too positive, continuously showing only one side of the story. The term “Luegenpresse” (“Lying- Press) was introduced, and went viral among the population.

Despite voices of accusation, newspapers still have a great influence and are highly respected. Just recently the Sueddeutsche Zeitung – one of the three biggest weekly papers – gained international acclaim for an investigative story revealing offshore bank accounts of well-known personalities across the globe. The leak, which became known as the “Panama Papers”, sparked international uproar and showed, that thorough Journalism is still of great importance, even in an age where traditional Newspapers have long been replaced by online newsfeed.

Release of the Panama Papers in the German Newspaper “Sueddeutsche Zeitung”

The winds are certainly changing. Many small Newspapers and magazines, have had to shut down their offices, due to the fact that, especially the young generation is spending more and more time online and reading flash news and following blogs about their specific interests. Social Media Platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, have not only become a tool to promote events and gather people of similar motivation, but also a place for rigorous political debate. Right – extremist protestors from the PEGIDA movement, who plead for Germany’s exit from the EU and against further immigration, use the social media platforms to spread their ideas and debate with others, for example.Whatever their opinion, according to the German Constitution, everyone is free to speak their mind. As long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else because even the freedom of speech has it’s limist. As the German Philosopher Immanuel Kant once said

”Freedom ends where the freedom of the other begins.”

– by Pauline F.