Political correctness – a threat to journalism? Facts provide the answer

by Ingo von Münch / Much has been written about political correctness (also: Cancel Culture) in many media. Less attention has been paid to the question of whether and why political correctness represents a serious threat to freedom of the press and thus poses a danger to journalism. The following debate contribution answers this question in the affirmative, referencing key aspects such as information bans, topic bans, governmental language regulation, and a trend towards intolerance.

Disinfection journalism Reporting on coronavirus has not been a beacon of orientation

by Timo Rieg / The journalistic reporting on the coronavirus pandemic displayed many essentially familiar deficits. Research and diversity of opinion came up particularly short. Journalism failed to ask crucial questions or look for critical voices. At the same time, policymakers were implementing measures that will have effects and side-effects for many years to come and for which, given its lack of involvement, the democratic sovereign cannot bear responsibility.

Unjustified media critique The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated not the failure, but the value of journalism

by Tanjev Schultz / We are living in strange times. Few other countries have (so far) dealt with the coronavirus crisis as well as Germany, yet there are many who would have you think that the country and its institutions are on the brink of ruin. Arrogant media critique is not satisfied with merely highlighting the errors and mistakes that the press has undoubtedly made – it clamors to diagnose systemic failure of the media. This type of media critique noticeably suffers from exactly the distortions that it claims to see in journalism itself: negativity, one-sidedness, and exaggeration.

The neglect of media critique

by Timo Rieg / Tanjev Schultz takes a different view from me on how German-language journalism has reported on the coronavirus. This was not just likely, but truly ›without alternative,‹ at least if we drill down to the tiniest details. After all, what we both have to say are points of view – »based on individual observations and opinions,« as the pre-print study by Quandt et. al. quoted by Schultz puts it. Such a wide-ranging spectrum of opinions or interpretations is exactly what I have missed in the reporting on coronavirus. Of course it was »multi-faceted,« and even underdog Jakob Augstein had the chance to say something somewhere outside his own weekly paper. But our role here is not one of a judging panel for a journalism prize, searching for pearls in a sea of oysters.

Some Thoughts on Prescribing Inclusive, Non-discriminatory Language

by Bernhard Debatin / We are living in a time of linguistic transformation. Yet, this is not because our times might be particularly stormy, even though one could assume that, given the impact of climate crisis, pandemic, increasingly uneven distribution of wealth, and speedy development of disruptive technologies. Rather, the issue is that language is constantly changing. And here, just as in many other areas of society, Ernst Bloch‘s dictum of the synchronicity of the asynchronous holds true. Not only is language changing, the change also occurs in a way that new forms of language will be accepted and familiarized in some areas of society, while it may take much longer in other areas. continue to article

Notes on the gender debate in Journalism Research

by Gabriele Hooffacker / Journalistic language should be as precise as possible. Its purpose is communication. Yet journalistic language can also encourage one-sided views. It makes a difference whether a news report speaks of »freedom fighters« or »rebels,« a »government« or a »regime,« »migrants« or »refugees.« Those who have good journalistic training or relevant practical experience increasingly know this and take it into account. continue to article

Gender-sensitive language in Journalism Research – recommendation or binding regulation?

by Horst Pöttker / Our discussion revolves around two questions: suitable means for enacting a linguistic change that overcomes paternalistic writing traditions; and the level of obligation with which we make rules that (are intended to) lead to this linguistic change compulsory for authors in our journal. In order to answer the first question, it is crucial to know how language as a system of symbols is understood. In my understanding, it serves primarily to enable communication between subjects, which may necessarily differ in gender, age, origin, religion, profession, education, political views and many other characteristics. This function calls for the language used by arts and social sciences, which have a particular interest in comprehension, to be as comprehensible as possible.continue to article

»… and always just think of the reader«? ›Journalism Research‹, visibility and language

by Martina Thiele / In his day, Focus Chief Editor Helmut Markwort demanded not only »facts, facts, facts,« but also a focus on the »readers.« That was in the 1990s. Today, in 2020, there is disagreement about whether Journalism Research, an »academic journal under the principle of independent publishing,« should, indeed must, use gender-sensitive formulations – whether we three male and two female publishers should in future encourage authors to write in a gender-sensitive way. So far, the style sheet has kept quiet on this. Other aspects, such as the form of citation and the length and form of potential papers, are prescribed, but there is no mention of gender-sensitive, non-discriminatory language. continue to article