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03.05.2019
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Metropol, Zürich

48. Economic Conference

Media in crisis – endangered democracy

Ann Marie Lipinski

The future of journalism is the future of democracy

Susanne Gaschke

Die Zukunft des Journalismus und die Zukunft der Demokratie

What role do the media, especially the traditional media, play in democratic opinion-forming? This question was the focus of the 48th Economic Conference of the Progress Foundation. By way of introduction, its President, Gerhard Schwarz, pointed out that journalism is under threefold pressure. Firstly, there is the great economic pressure. Everyone was poking around in the fog and trying to cut costs. This leads to mergers, above all to savings on journalism, to the bleeding of editorial offices, to the thinning out of content and to a decreasing willingness to provide journalistic depth. This is linked to technological pressure. Information and knowledge are available worldwide at the same time, and much of what used to be done by journalists is now done by algorithms. Collecting and processing information has become easier and hardly requires any ingenuity or flair. At most, factual and journalistic expertise seems to be required for the classification of facts. Finally, there is the pressure of content. The enlightening search for the truth is made more difficult because the constant bombardment of fake news obscures the truth, the speech and thought bans of political correctness make it impossible to name facts, and the moralizing mainstream has washed away the ideological debate, which at the same time serves the search for truth.

The American journalist Ann Marie Lipinski, who heads the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, emphasized that the future of democracy is tied to the future of journalism and used quotes from various US presidents as well as examples from other heads of state and government to illustrate the difficult and fragile relationship between media, power and politics. The German journalist (and short-term local politician) Susanne Gaschke said that the problems in the media industry were to a large extent self-inflicted. Publishers had not given enough thought to the Internet and digitalization and their opportunities and risks. Gaschke was harsh in her criticism of journalists. Some of them are know-it-alls, unable to criticize and often not competent enough. Gaschke believes that anonymity on the internet and in social media is downright devastating for political culture. It leads to brutalization and the loss of all responsibility. (An abridged version of Ms. Gaschke’s speech was published in the NZZ on 19.5.19).

Translated with DeepL

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The future of journalism is the future of democracy
Ann Marie Lipinski, Präsentation
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Die Zukunft des Journalismus und die Zukunft der Demokratie
Susanne Gaschke, Redetext
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