Violence and harassment incidents against media members in Germany are on the rise. Journalists expect more sensitivity from the police, the judiciary and politics, while the majority of the perpetrators are far-right and right-minded.
Physical attacks and threats against media members are increasing in Germany. On May 1, a group of 20 masked people attacked the camera team of the public broadcasting organization ZDF, 6 media members were injured, six suspects were released after a while in custody.
Again, public broadcasting ARD’s team, following the protests against coronavirus restrictions in Berlin, was targeted to attack on Wednesday. The 46-year-old was released after being arrested, who hit the microphone extension bar and injured a cameraman while trying to kick one of the media members. It was reported that the investigation about the suspect continued due to “dangerous physical injury”.
In Germany, attacks on media members, especially the far right-wing and right-wing circles, and the lack of criminal prosecution threaten freedom of the press. According to the data of the European Press and Media Freedom Center, 119 journalists were directly exposed to physical violence in Germany between 2015 and 2020, 77 percent of the attacks were carried out by far-right and right-wing perpetrators.
A recent study by Bielefeld University with 322 media members reveals that 59.9 percent of journalists have been attacked at least once in the past 12 months. This rate was recorded as 42 percent in 2017.
Insults, violence, death threats …
In the research of the Bielefeld University Institute for Interdisciplinary Conflict and Violence Research, all hate-related reactions ranging from insulting to hostile speech, from violent or criminal acts to direct physical violence and death threats were considered as attacks.
According to this, 41 percent of people stated that they were targeted to attack regularly or more than once, while 16.2 percent of journalists noted that they were exposed to direct physical attack at least once in their professional life. 15.8 percent of the media members who participated in the survey said that they received death threats at least once. More than half of those who received death threats think they are not adequately protected by security units.
The most dangerous issues: Migration, AfD and asylum seekers
According to the research, the majority of 68.6 percent think that the attacks exposed due to the news stories have increased in the last 12 months. “Migration” is one of the issues journalists consider “dangerous” in their news writing. Immigration news is followed by news about the right-wing populist AfD party and asylum seekers.
82.4 percent of the journalists who were attacked expressed the prediction that the attackers belonged to the extreme right wing environment. The report noted that the attacks were rarely prosecuted, indicating that only one of the four cases investigated by the police was convicted. 76.9 percent of respondents think that political actors and political parties are behind the attacks on media members. Here, the majority of 63 percent directly draws attention to AfD. Far-right and right-wing groups are watching AfD.
This picture also affects the psychology of media members. According to the research, 62 percent of journalists see the freedom and independence of the journalism profession in danger in Germany in the light of this development. The rate of those who state that they will understand their colleagues to stay away from some issues due to their anxiety about being attacked is 52.3 percent.
Many journalists participating in the survey want to be more sensitive to hate speech than the police and the judiciary, and expect more solidarity and support from the public in the face of attacks on journalism.
SOURCE: ©️ Deutsche Welle Turkish