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'Lying Press!' Half of Germans Turns Away From Mainstream Media

© AFP 2023 / JOHN MACDOUGALL View of the Berlin skyline seen from Potsdamer Platz to Alexanderplatz, including the TV Tower, the Berlin Cathedral (R), the Berlin palace under construction and the city's town hall (Rotes Rathaus, R)
View of the Berlin skyline seen from Potsdamer Platz to Alexanderplatz, including the TV Tower, the Berlin Cathedral (R), the Berlin palace under construction and the city's town hall (Rotes Rathaus, R) - Sputnik International
Mainstream media coverage of the notorious Cologne sex attacks has enraged many Germans, marking a turning point for an increasing dissatisfaction in the work of journalists across the country and a loss of faith in mainstream news outlets.

The distorted view of the refugee crisis given by German media is the  main cause of a soaring public backlash, a report by Spiegel revealed.

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The Allensbach Institute, a renowned polling company in Germany, issued a survey calculating that only 25 percent of Germans said they trust what media report about refugee women and children arriving to the country.

According to a recent national poll, almost 50 percent of Germans have "little trust" in the media. The level of distrust varies from “healthy skepticism” to calls to “get out the pitchforks to chase journalists out of newspaper offices.” But what’s more alarming, according to Spiegel, is that the amount of radicalized people dissatisfied with media is rapidly growing.

A common example of this shift is Isolde Beck, a German pensioner, who turned away from acknowledged media sources in the wake of the Cologne sex attacks. After shocking details of the New Year’s Eve incident were covered up by the media, she said that reporters have lost the ability to "articulate certain things," adding that the "news is being suppressed."

"We can no longer assume that there is a democracy or even freedom of expression in this country anymore," Beck wrote in a letter he sent to Spiegel editorial office.

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Many believe that the federal government presses journalists to not tell the truth. It is widely known that Chancellor Angela Merkel invited representatives from main news outlets to the Chancellery. Some Germans are assured that reporters were ordered to hide the truth, at the beginning of the refugee crisis.

"I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I do believe we're really being taken for a ride," Philipp Karger, a 33-year-old engineer, said on beliefs that media organizations are paid by politicians to conceal the truth.

Siegfried Vollmert, 57, of Essen, has another take on the problem, suggesting that media have lost their connection to their readership. Vollmert underscored that reporters should focus on social problems, including teacher shortage, poor hygiene in hospitals, and a growing number of burglaries, rather than on refugees.

"The press has allowed itself to be misused by politics and its mission of political correctness," Vollmer asserted. "They don't listen to what's happening down below."

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Armin Wolf, an Austrian TV host, agreed with the criticism and observed that something must be done about it.

"The fact that journalists are not as present where society needs those most — there's something to that," he remarked.

Meanwhile, the levels of hatred and impatience toward media and journalists are mounting in society.

Internet posts by German national Uwe Ostertag called the media reporters "rats," "zombies," and "cockroaches," and said they all need to be "destroyed by the exterminator,” in a viral post.

The more concerning fact is that some verbal abuse is now being voiced not only in the Internet, but in real life as well.

A popular German journalist, Dunja Hayali, who received a German film and television honor the Golden Camera, was subjected to verbal abuse on the street. A cyclist passing her by in the run-up to the award ceremony, stopped and shouted in her face: “Lying press! You liar!"

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