Why do political parties no longer own newspapers?

Studies misinterpreted several timesGerman media not "left-green"

The heart of the German journalist beats on the left. That was the headline of the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" a little over a year ago. There is hardly any neutral journalism, it goes on to say. For the "NZZ" editor the problem is clear: The German journalists are too left and report accordingly.

Similar statements can be found not only in right-wing populist media, but also in articles in "Cicero". Springer boss Mathias Döpfner and ex- "Spiegel" -, now "Focus" columnist Jan Fleischhauer have already argued that way.

False conclusions and misinterpretations

Some of them are based on a survey that is ten years old and does not produce exactly this result. Journalism researcher Margreth Lünenborg from the Free University of Berlin is a co-author of the study. She says: "The result shows that the largest group, more than a third, does not describe any party bias."

The study is therefore often not cited correctly. False conclusions and misinterpretations are not uncommon. Not only the AfD likes to refer to journalists as politically left-wing, and you can also hear that from the Union: CSU man Alexander Dobrindt, for example, once railed against left opinion dominance.

(picture alliance / dpa / Wolfram Steinberg) "Strong polarization" - study on trust in the media
Germans have a consistently high level of trust in the media - according to a study by the University of Mainz. But there is often the feeling that the media debates have nothing to do with the realities of life.

Journalism researcher Lünenborg argues that the reporting cannot be inferred from political attitudes: "That is a short circuit, that is not how journalism works, in structures in which not every single journalist only writes what he or she himself or herself writes thinks."

Editors-in-chief are often more conservative than their employees

One result of the study: Many journalists consider the company they work for to be significantly more conservative than they would assess themselves.

A study from Switzerland, to which Sebastian Haupt refers, comes to the same conclusion. He works for "Katapult", a magazine for social sciences.

Haupt mentions another important point: "An editor-in-chief or the editorial team is definitely decisive in what the reporting looks like. And according to this survey, at least, and I think that is plausible, they seem to be more conservative than parts of their journalists who are employ them."

And that is confirmed by Lünenborg's survey, because editors-in-chief are often more conservative than their employees. However, this is not mentioned in many articles.

Study results deliberately misrepresented?

When the Reuters Digital News Report was published last year - it was about the use of news in an international comparison - it said among other things in the "Welt am Sonntag" that the political center would be in the "Tagesschau" and "ZDF heute" "only minimally striped. A misinterpretation that could be read in many places.

The German authors of the study have published a statement because of the ongoing discussions. It says: "The most important finding is that all of the news formats considered here reach people across the spectrum of political orientations."

Above all, the "Tagesschau" was assumed to be one-sidedly left-wing. In fact, the results show the opposite, as the researchers' explanation shows: "For all other political orientations, the Tagesschau is the offer with the greatest reach. So people who settle a little to the right or far to the right of the center are more likely to see them 'Tagesschau' as 'RTL aktuell'. "

(imago | photothek) "Tagesschau" boss: "We didn't take sides"
ARD-Aktuell editor-in-chief Kai Gniffke considers the accusation that journalists are too much educators and too few reporters to be unjustified. The news on ARD is selected according to relevance criteria.

The only exception: people on the extreme left and right prefer "RTL aktuell". Another investigation that has been misinterpreted several times.

Haupt suspects that such study results are sometimes deliberately misrepresented: "We have a lot of right-wing populist media that are trying to draw a front line between the elite and themselves. That means that all of a sudden a lot of democratic matters of course are glorified into left-wing projects, just to give yourself the reputation of a freedom fighter. "

"Manipulative falsification of the data"

Journalism researcher Lünenborg also had such an experience with her study: "A manipulative falsification of the data. When depicting political affection for certain parties, we have multiple data that were comprehensibly circulated by AfD actors via social media channels."

In Sebastian Haupt's opinion, the attacks are primarily aimed at one media group: "The public broadcasters are actually the main opponents of these claims. That means they are permanently exposed to these attacks, reporting loyal to the government, being left-green, fake- To operate news, to operate climate hysteria. "

Note (02/14/2020): At the suggestion of users, we have added further links to the text.