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In the media sphere we are accustomed to public opinion studies showing trust in the professions falling to new low points. Well, man bites dog. University of Mainz communications and journalism researchers interviewed a sample of Germans last October and November finding 40% trust news media “nearly or completely,” reported Die Zelt (January 25). That’s up “massively” from 29% in 2008.
On the other hand (sorry), the share of folks who distrust news media has risen over the same period to 24% from 9%. The change in both sets of figures can be explained as “people clarifying their positions,” said lead researcher Oliver Quiring. The main criticism is that “media suppresses opinions and cites only experts.” Germans seem increasingly aware of the higher standing of press freedom relative to other countries. (See more about press freedom here)
As all research on attitudes toward media asks about the impact of social media, the researchers found it overstated as Germans tend not to express their political opinions in those forums. “People who simply enjoy provocation are partisan,” said professor Quiring. “They just want to play.”
The researchers also suggest the media sphere could do a better job explaining what they do. "I don't think that most journalists are aware how little is known about their profession,” said researcher Tanjev Schultz.
A new online news portal is taking shape as “an exile medium.” Based in Berlin, it is published in Turkish and German under the direction of exiled Turkish journalists Can Dundar and Hayko Bagdat with initial support from German non-profit investigative research institute Correctiv. Called Ozgürüz - Turkish for ‘We are free’ - the portal focuses on corruption in Turkey and policies of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"I hope this platform allows us to do our work unhindered,” said Mr. Dundar, former Turkish daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief, quoted by Berliner Zeitung (January 24). Mr. Bagdat once worked for Turkish daily Taraf and online news portal Diken. Both fled Turkey for Germany last year under threats of prosecution. “I am convinced that the truth will have the strength to defeat evil,” said Mr. Bagdat.
“Money is always a problem,” said Correctiv chief executive David Schraven. Initial funding runs out after six weeks. Correctiv is involved in many media initiatives, including German-language fact-checking for social network Facebook. (See more about online news here)
Last week Berlin daily Tageszeitung launched a German/Turkish online news portal. German public broadcaster WDR offers a news portal in the Turkish-language.
The investigative journalists who brought the Panama Papers to international consequence are setting their talents on even greater heights. They say the subject is “very promising.” Already collaborators are raising their hands.
Setting out an action plan in the Guardian (January 24) Süddeutsche Zeitung investigative journalists Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer call for the same collaboration that led to the stunning Panama Papers revelations to be employed again. “Now, once again, we are faced with a story that is too big and too important to handle on our own: Donald Trump’s impact on the democracy of the United States of America.” They, like other reporters, were “shaken and stunned” by the the treatment of veteran CNN reporter Jim Acosta by then president-elect Trump two weeks ago. “Worryingly, none of his fellow journalists in the room stood up for him at the time.”
They called for news organizations and investigators to band together and “look into his international business ties, and those of his billionaire cabinet, to find all of their conflicts of interest.” That would include ties to Russia, “which also is very promising.”
“This seems even more important as the president acts like one of the oligarchs that journalists like the two of us, who work on international corruption, investigate again and again,” they wrote. (See more about investigative journalism here)
“It is a very interesting track to join,” said Norwegian daily Aftenposten managing director Espen Egil Hansen to Kampajne (January 24). “We have worked with these two journalists a lot now and it may well be there are more, too. We must consider what we can do. Trump has no major operations in Norway, that I know of, but maybe he has in countries where we have correspondents.”
“The press must be critical of power,” he continued. “We need to ask questions and be truth seekers and factual. Now here comes the world's most powerful man attacking the press, and he is lying. So if the press fails to show its mettle now, we’ll never do it.”
Last year Mr. Hansen wrote and published an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about censoring the iconic Nick Ut photo known as “Napalm Girl.” The letter was widely republished. Asked if an open letter to the US president might be in order, he said not. “I do not think he reads.”
Swiss media watchers were all aglow with the announcement that CNNMoney Switzerland will launch sometime before summer. In Geneva and Zurich studios there will be 30 employees producing three-hour live evening broadcast covering current business news as well as the large assembly of international organizations and NGOs. The channel’s language will be English, available on cable and IPTV. The announcement just happened to coincide with finale of the World Economic Forum’s annual Davos event.
CNNMoney Switzerland is a strategic partnership between Swiss investor MediaGo and CNN International Commercial. Though details of this relationship are sketchy, it appears to be one rung up from a simple brand license deal. CNN will “supervise” the staff, noted Swiss French daily Le Temps (January 22). Some content will be gleaned from CNN sources.
The target, obviously, is the well-healed Swiss resident, all of whom speak English, and the advertisers who love them, which explains how this came about through CNN International’s commercial arm. MediaGo CEO Christophe Rasch said to Sonntagszeitung (January 22) the intention is not, necessarily, to compete with Bloomberg or CNBC with data and graphs but with news for business leaders.
“We want to seize opportunities to create added-value for CNN,” said CNN International Commercial president Rani Raad, quoted by werbewoche.ch (January 23), “and create new branding touch points.” CNNMoney Switzerland will be the first nationally branded CNNMoney channel and, if this works out, there could be more. “An influential brand and unmistakable content stand out in the news landscape. That’s exactly what we want to achieve.”
"CNN Money Switzerland marks an important step in the corporate strategy of CNN. We want to seize opportunities to create added value for CNN and enable the audience to create new branding touch points, "said CNN International Commercial Rani Raad in a statement. "In this case, we are working with Media Go to found the first independent national CNN Money channel and to strengthen our commitment to a relevant market for issues of international relevance. An influential brand and unmistakable content stand out in the news landscape - that's exactly what we want to achieve with CNN Money Switzerland.“