Germany moves up from rank 15 to rank 13. Is that a good thing? No. Threats and attacks and new laws are putting journalists in distress. The only reason it's going up two ranks is because the situation has deteriorated elsewhere.
This is an issue that should concern us all, because freedom of the press is an essential part of a functioning democracy. Although the situation in Germany is comparatively good, the situation has heated up in the past year: on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, the organisation Reporters Without Borders has announced in its annual ranking of press freedom that the number of assaults against journalists in Germany rose in 2018 – often in the context of right-wing populist events.
Network Enforcement Act and BND Act
From the organization's point of view, two new laws are problematic in addition to an increasingly hostile media climate: The Network Enforcement Act leaves the censorship of alleged hate messages on the Internet to providers of social platforms. In practice, the law invites censorship, fears Human Rights Watch. The reason for this is the obligation to delete illegal content without any consequences for the deletion of content that is not illegal. So even uncomfortable truths can disappear overnight.
The BND Act, on the other hand, allows foreign journalists abroad to be monitored by the Federal Intelligence Service (BND). What's wrong with that? The "strategic" surveillance can take place without concrete suspicion. To put it plainly: the BND can listen to journalists' telephone calls and read their e-mails without restrictions. Regime-critical investigative journalism can thus be buried more quickly than it takes to read the corresponding legal text.
Freedom of the press and PR
Why do we as a PR agency care? Read more about it here.
Agency CEO and guest author Cornelie Elsässer is in close contact with journalists and media representatives. She is convinced that freedom of the press is an essential part of a functioning democracy.