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Deutsche Welle - Romania | 25/03/2015

Journalists often worse than online mercenaries

The Internet commentators hired by the liberal-conservative Romanian party PMP were remunerated with bribe money paid to former minister Elena Udrea, according to corruption investigations against the close associate of former president Traian Băsescu. But such online mercenaries are no worse than dishonest journalists, the Romanian service of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle writes: "The task of the paid commentators was to give the illusion that they belonged to an overwhelming majority. They didn't present arguments, they just voiced fabricated opinions. All too often, however, that's exactly what the press does too. ... There are many examples of situations in which the media have deliberately mystified facts. And also as far as their verbal violence and their preaching tone go they are every bit the equal of paid commentators. So it would be hardly surprising if the commentators we criticise today see themselves as petty offenders compared to the white-collar hacks who intentionally lead readers astray." (25/03/2015)

Gândul - Romania | 24/03/2015

The evil of paid commentaries in Romania

For years Romanian parties have been paying people to flood websites with commentaries. Former minister Elena Udrea of the liberal-conservativee PMP admitted this in the course of corruption investigations against her. The online paper Gândul is not surprised at this confession: "This explains yet again how people's images are built up on the Internet. We're caught in a kind of Stone Age of political lobbyism in which intellectual rowdys bash you on the head as soon as you criticise their ruler. These invisible people are either students trying to earn a little extra cash, young 'politicians in training' or impoverished civil servants and pensioners who would do anything for money. All the parties have trained and built up such reliable hack writers so they can rush in like a rescue team and help them and their party leaders out when they're in trouble." (24/03/2015)

Handelsblatt - Germany | 23/03/2015

User comments should be scrapped

The opinions on the Ukraine conflict gathered in representative surveys in Germany and the user comments posted on online media diverge widely, a study by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research reveals. According to the study online commentators show more sympathy for Russia. The media should deactivate their commentary functions, the liberal business daily Handelsblatt demands, arguing that the difference in opinions "confirms the widely held suspicion among experts that online discussions are used far more intensively by people who feel directly affected, have a stronger sense of mission and a lot of time on their hands. In the case of Russia an additional component may play a role: 'information operations'. The Russian military is notorious for setting great store by propaganda and using it intensively. … What we see in online commentaries is therefore not free and democratic discourse. … If it is primarily radicals, lunatics and foreign powers who adjust articles to their own perceptions, we can do without such commentaries." (23/03/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland | 20/03/2015

Middle finger a symptom of overstress

Since Sunday the German media have been discussing a video showing Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis supposedly holding up his middle finger to Germany. For the daily Tages-Anzeiger the debate exemplifies what's wrong with the media: "When someone like Günther Jauch, the host of a show aired by a public broadcaster, reduces a highly complex set of arguments to one middle finger, it's tragic proof for how far the degeneration of the media has come. Jauch is a symbol for the fact that we are having a hard time dealing with events as they unfold. The crisis in Greece is complex and unclear. It's about debt, dependence, long-time relations, individual and collective destinies, and a country on the brink of disaster. But instead of seriously examining the causes of and possible solutions to this crisis, even quality journalists are appealing to the simplest reflex mechanism: popular outrage." (20/03/2015)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark | 20/03/2015

Muhammad cartoons honoured

The journalist Flemming Rose has won this year's Publicistpris. In 2005, as Jyllands Posten's cultural editor, he commissioned the Muhammad cartoons. The liberal-conservative daily writes that Rose, who is now the paper's foreign affairs editor, fully deserved to win Denmark's most prestigious press freedom prize: "The prize is a well deserved honuor for Flemming Rose and his enduring journalistic commitment to protecting freedom of expression. ... The noblest goal of freedom of the press and expression is to challenge those in power, authorities and social taboos. ... The prerequisite for this is tolerance and acceptance of the fact that in a democracy there can be no guarantee that those things one cherishes won't be offended. Our newspaper and above all Flemming Rose are well aware that the fight for this stance has serious consequences." (20/03/2015)

Blog Pitsirikos - Greece | 19/03/2015

German media disgraced by middle-finger fake

The chief editor of the German TV show Günther Jauch admitted via Twitter on Thursday that a video showing Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis making the middle-finger gesture was taken out of context. Blogger Pitsirikos criticises the debate over the video: "The stance of many German and Greek media outlets regarding Varoufakis proves that many mass media no longer have anything to do with information and the truth but are acting as representatives for governments. ... Jan Böhmermann's ingenious admission that he doctored the video has caused even more embarrassment for the mainstream media in Germany because they all believed it. The presenter of a satirical show has mocked both the German journalists and his own countrymen with the words: 'That's us Germans for you. We ravaged Europe twice within a century but when someone shows us the middle finger we totally flip out'." (19/03/2015)

Der Standard - Austria | 16/03/2015

Erdoğan's hypocritical anti-Twitter campaign

Three people have been arrested in the last week in Turkey for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Twitter. Hardly any other country in the world prosecutes social network users so frequently, the left-liberal daily Der Standard criticises, seeing this as part of a hypocritical campaign: "Erdoğan himself has revealed the objective of these police state tactics with admirable clarity: the goal is the 'extermination' of Twitter and all other online social networks. Because what the Turkish government can't control is harmful. The hypocrisy is considerable. Smear campaigns against journalists and the defamation of citizens who voice criticism are bread and butter for the tweeting AKP functionaries and their trolls. The terrorist army 'Islamic State' (IS), on the other hand, needn't worry at all about its Internet propaganda in the otherwise so sensitive Turkey." (16/03/2015)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden | 10/03/2015

Racist satire on Swedish radio broadcaster

A satirical programme on Sweden's national public broadcaster Sveriges Radio poked fun at the conservative views of the new head of the political section at the daily newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, Alice Teodorescu, and referred to her as a "House Negro". Satire has its limits too, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter comments: "As is so often the case it's not the conservative views that provoke, it's more the fact that Teodorescu voices those conservative views and that she's an immigrant and right-winger at the same time. ... Conservatively oriented immigrants frequently contradict the expectations their skin colour or name automatically elicit. The expectation that they will sympathise more with left-wing views. ... Are such demeaning terms acceptable nowadays among left-wingers, who describe themselves as anti-racist. ... Certainly, satire has the freedom to make fun of anyone. But not everything that falls under freedom of expression is automatically funny. Racism is seldom funny." (10/03/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic | 09/03/2015

Prague's "lying TV channel" defends liberalism

Supporters of Czech President Miloš Zeman demonstrated in Prague on Saturday against the "false reporting" by public broadcaster Česká televize (ČT) and called for its financing through licence fees to be abolished. The conservative daily Lidové noviny warns against such attacks: "The 'lie' as far as these people are concerned is that ČT doesn't praise the president enough. They believe that the broadcaster criticises Russia too much and is too approving of ex-president Havel. Some editors, they criticise, have grown too fond of the US and speak English or even German. They claim that such a television channel is against the 'people', who should join the president in rising up against the channel. ... This all goes to show that ČT is not doing bad work at all. It is namely still the channel of a liberal society that hasn't yet lost all the values for which it opted in 1989. Therefore it should be supported by another section of society - the non-Zeman section." (09/03/2015)

Ziare - Romania | 04/03/2015

Blackmail journalism commonplace in Romania

Dan Diaconescu, a Romanian ex-politician and once a prominent media entrepreneur, was sentenced to over five years in jail on Wednesday. He was charged with threatening to publish compromising reports about a local politician and a businessman if they failed to pay hush money. The case is symptomatic of journalism in the country, journalist Ioana Ene Dogioiu laments on the web portal Ziare: "The phenomenon of blackmail is more widespread than we care to admit. It is part of the steady and dramatic decline of the Romanian media landscape. The verdict handed down against Dan Diaconescu is also a condemnation of a completely false understanding of journalism, which has become an instrument for blackmail aimed at furthering political and economic careers. ... This judgement encourages hopes for a recovery of the Romanian press, which is now hardly better than the political class it should be reporting on in a truthful and respectable way - in the public interest." (04/03/2015)

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