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AfD politician Uwe Junge speaking on hart aber fair (Frank Plasberg, ARD) in July 2019. His presence among the discussants was criticised for offering a platform to a politician whose utterances can only promote conflict in society/Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Journalists’ association slams ARD, ZDF over minorities in Germany

The national association of German journalists with a migration background has criticised the two major public broadcasting services in Germany for promoting prejudice against people of foreign origin in the country.

The New German Media Practitioners (Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen or NdMM) recently awarded its annual Goldene Kartoffel (Golden Potato) to ARD and ZDF. The award, which is not an honour but a rebuke, identifies journalists or media organisations that “paint a distorted picture of co-existence in Germany as a country of immigration or consistently exaggerate problems and conflicts and promote prejudices, thereby violating journalistic standards”.

The ceremony at which the Golden Potato was awarded to ARD and ZDF /Photo: Femi Awoniyi

 

ARD and ZDF earned this year’s Golden Potato because of four political talk shows on the two national public broadcasting services. In the opinion of the NdMM, the highly influential shows – hart aber fair (Frank Plasberg, ARD), maischberger (Sandra Maischberger, ARD), Anne Will (Anne Will, ARD) and maybrit illner (Maybrit Illner, ZDF), violate the principles of fair journalism in the way they present issues concerning or affecting migrants in the country.

In the opinion of the Golden Potato jury, “according to their mandate, the public broadcasting services are supposed to inform, educate and entertain – so the political talk shows have an educational mission. Unfortunately, you notice little of this in their implementation of this mandate”.

Sheila Mysorekar, chairman of the Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen with the Golden Potato but the recipients were absent! /Photo: Femi Awoniyi

 

The jury say through such topics as “Heimat Deutschland – nur für Deutsche oder offen für alle?” (Homeland Germany – only for Germans or for all?) or “Bürger verunsichert – Wie umgehen mit kriminellen Zuwanderern?”, (Citizens unsettled – How do we deal with criminal migrants?), the talk shows promote stereotypes instead of dispelling them.

“The discussions of issues of migration, refugees and Islam are characterized by prejudice and alarmism. It’s almost always about extremism, crime and other threats from migrants and their descendants,” the jury said.

The jury also criticised the selection of guests on the talk shows. “Particularly noticeable is the absence of people of colour on the discussion panels.” NdMM describes people of colour as a self-depiction of those who experience racism and are not perceived as white, German or Western in society.

“And when invited, it is only to discussions on migration issues as if they’re also not affected by other issues such as pension, climate change etc,” the organisation noted.

A cross-section of participants at one of the events of the federal conference of the Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen /Photo: Femi Awoniyi

 

The NdMM reminds ARD and ZDF that about a quarter of the German population has a migration background – and the organisation holds that “this should be reflected everywhere”.

“This Golden Potato is a case of disappointed love,” said Sheila Mysorekar, who chaired the jury. “Public broadcasting should serve all citizens – after all, it is paid for by all.”

“If of all broadcasters, it’s the talk shows of our ARD and our ZDF that give prime time to right-wing radicals and racists time and again  and, on the other hand, rarely invite serious representatives of ethnic and religious minorities, then they are not doing their job,” Ms Mysorekar, who is also the chairman of the NdMM, said.

The Golden Potato was awarded at the yearly federal meeting of the NdMM, which took place in Berlin on 2 November. No representatives of ARD and ZDF however attended the event. Bildzeitung was the recipient of the award of rebuke last year.

Femi Awoniyi

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