mb. “Zeit”-chief editor Giovanni Lorenzo exercises self- and media criticism: The unanimous pro-refugee atmosphere harmed the media sustainably. “The people took offence at this.” He does not spare himself: “In the early stages we made a title that did not indicate the necessary restraint. The line was ‘Welcome!’, and the editorial reinforced it – my own words were then ‘Every refugee is an enrichment for our country’.” Carefully Lorenzo criticised the self-understanding of the media professionals as educators of the nation, when he says: “I believe that for a while we tended too much to be co-creators of the refugee crisis and did not focus on the role of observation.” (www.meedia.de from 11.7.2016)
With his confession Lorenzo is trying to regain lost credibility among the population. Many people are turning away from the established media shows – in addition to dwindling subscriber numbers – as is shown by a scientific study performed by Kim Otto and Andreas Köhler of the Institute of Economic Journalism at the University of Würzburg. According to the study only 51% of German citizens trust the press, which is 4% less than last year. Among those aged of 25-34 years even 62.4% distrust the media, whether press, radio or television. The first big breach of trust happened as a result of the reporting on the Ukraine crisis, according to Otto and Köhler. Many people would regard the reporting on the refugee crisis as “paternalism with an educational claim”.
Germany was once proud of its free press and free word – and rightly so. For Germany, as for many other European countries, the freedom of press, speech and opinion is the indispensable foundation of democracy at all. Therefore, the citizens’ rejection of the media is a warning sign that should not be overlooked. •
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