German media failed to report refugee crisis honestly

Source: The Local

An influential German institute has studied thousands of article published by daily newspapers during the refugee crisis. Their conclusion: journalists lost their objectivity and drove a wedge through society.

As hundreds of thousands of refugees arrived in Germany in 2015 and early 2016, daily newspapers took on the role of “public educators” rather than objective critics of public policy, a team of researchers at the Otto Brenner Institute conclude, according to a report in Die Zeit this week.

The researchers, led by former Die Zeit editor Michael Haller, studied thousands of articles published between February 2015 and March 2016 by leading daily newspapers, including Bild, Die Welt, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The report, which will be published on Monday, criticizes “the so-called mainstream media” for lining up behind Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policies, and for uncritically taking on “the slogans of the political elite.”

Journalists used the slogan Willkommenskultur (welcoming culture) to put moral pressure on citizens to contribute to the cause of supporting refugees, the study finds.

People who criticized the government policy were treated by journalists as suspect and potentially racist. At the same time, the newspapers saw it as their role to educate such people on becoming better human beings, the study argues.

“Most journalists failed in their job as someone who is supposed to objectively explain the world to readers,” Haller told Die Zeit.

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