Freedom of the media is essential

Editorial: Without freedom of the press there is no democracy

The freedom of the press and freedom of expression are inextricably linked. There can be no democracy without these fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution. Authoritarian regimes abhor these freedoms. Democracies, on the other hand, live from the free flow of information and the exchange of arguments. And they are immediately in danger if freedom of the press and freedom of expression are compromised. Once the control of those in power has been removed and open social discourse suppressed, the basic democratic order will go downhill. Then - see Erdogan's Turkey - the door will be open to one-party rule.

In large parts of the world democracy is a foreign word. Freedom of expression is correspondingly miserable there, as a study presented on “Freedom of the Press Day” shows. African rulers, Arab despots, communist dictatorships (like the Chinese) and authoritarian states (like Putin's Russia) are forcing the media on their course and refusing to speak freely. Judging by this, we live in paradisiacal conditions in the west. But that's no reason to sit back and relax with satisfaction.

Journalists are also harassed in EU countries

First, even the governments of EU countries like Poland and Hungary harass unpopular journalists. Second, even in flawless democracies, media representatives are increasingly exposed to threats, intimidation and even physical attacks. Third, democratic governments also tend to unduly restrict the freedom of reporting. Not that freedom of the press is threatened here: But vigilance is required because freedom of expression provides the oxygen that a democracy needs to breathe and survive.

This is all the more true as the climate of opinion has become very harsh and the denigration of the media as "lying press" has now become part of the standard repertoire of opponents of the democratic system - including that Trumpism that declares the media to be "enemies of the people" and tries to do so To discredit the press as a controlling body. This is accompanied by the glut of fake news, targeted false reports and lies that are spreading rapidly on the Internet, aiming at disinformation and insecurity in society and, with their absurd conspiracy theories, contribute to the erosion of trust in the institutions of the republic. Both the failures of Trump and his European sympathizers and the unfiltered flood of fabricated news that convey hatred and anger show the importance of good, fact-based journalism that provides credible information, paints the most objective possible picture of reality and enables well-founded opinion-making. And who, if not the press, should hug people like Trump and point out grievances?

The basic trust in the newspaper remains high

Yes, the media make mistakes and sometimes do not research thoroughly enough. Some tend to scandalize or practice overly correct popular education. Others do politics instead of reporting what is happening. Still other trivializing problems in order to provide radicals with nothing. All in all, however, the free press with all its diversity does a good, indispensable job. And the basic trust in the classic media, which also includes this newspaper, has remained high and has even grown again. Most citizens already know what serious reporting they have, especially in times of fake news. Therefore, above all, we need not be concerned about freedom of the press and freedom of expression.