Why the press should defend its sovereignty better NDR.de

Status: 07.05.2022 06:00 AM

Most print interviews in the German press arena are reviewed and revised and only then released to print – by those interviewed. Our writer Martin Chichen believes that this practice could undermine the sovereignty of a free press.

by Martin Chichen

One axiom that is hard to dispute in our nervous present is the claim that Olaf Schultz is a man with very limited communication skills. An introverted and discursively gifted person: a scholzomat who ignores his interlocutors in interviews with unanswered and also prefers to make decisions that affect the moral and realistic survival of an entire world system on his own. Or in a small circle of confidants who are taciturn and disoriented in public as it is.

Legendary Olaf Schultz Interview

But his speeches – at the “turning point” at the end of February, for example, after the Russian attack on Ukraine, or on May Day May Day: suddenly a lazy North German raises his voice; He lures, demands, opens up, understands the courts and in general: appears as a statesman who takes a stand, defends and even shows feelings.

Is this a contradiction? He can enlighten himself by remembering Schultz’s legendary interview with the daily Taz over 20 years ago. Or rather: it was forbidden. For the subsequent changes and omissions made by the then General Secretary of the Social Democratic Party to the manuscript were so extensive and massive that the editors felt angry and helpless. The next day a text appeared in the newspaper in which only the questions could be read, but all the answers were withheld.

The defeat had an almost historical dimension, because the politician had made it clear once and for all what was at stake: the supremacy of interpretation in political discourse, the upper hand in everyday little things with the presence of a press that should be uncomfortable. Her research at times permeates the backrooms of the administration, pulls off scandals and can derail long-term political views. Rather, he has to do so, because disagreements, disclosure, and control on a small scale sometimes are inevitably part of political action in a democracy. But it’s quite clear that Schultz left the field initially as the winner of the TAZ competition.

‘Authorised’ interviews are the norm in Germany

This procedure is common in Germany. It is the rule, not the exception, that journalists’ interlocutors insist on reviewing their statements again afterwards, and only then release them for publication, i.e. “let them”, as the technical term surprisingly calls them. But how much dominance of power must be re-established with each document?

It is also the norm that journalists intervene in. On the other hand, because it’s so common now and hardly anyone thinks about it anymore. On the other hand, out of concern that without this flexibility you may not get an interview at all. Helmut Kohl, the eternal chancellor, had already given power a sloping down and steadfastly maintained his defiant position: the ladies and gentlemen of Spiegel and of Stern in Hamburg were too devious, too disobedient, and too few vassals to him; He just didn’t like them – so he didn’t give them a single interview in his 16 years in office. The colleagues from Axel Springer and the newspaper “Bild” are very expensive. This is how the owner way policy works.

And what a model he was for politicians of all unions, financiers, theater directors, mayors of small towns or scholars! Since Cole and Schulze, every interviewee has felt entitled to publicly define the terms: the conversation is just against the privilege of being able to control every word and, if necessary, rewrite it at the end. Sometimes there is such a thing as doubt; Then that conversation partner can sometimes grumble that it’s actually just a matter of checking the final text for misunderstandings and avoiding factual errors. As if it wasn’t the author who bears the consequences. The DJV Journalists Association even sanctions the measure with its own publication: “Unlike the Anglo-American press, authorization is common in the German press, although not mandatory.”

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Culture NDR | Thoughts at that time | 07.05.2022 | 13:00 “Oh the clock

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