2007/12/14

The press as threat

Most nations have their own press disaster, a newspaper or TV channel that doesn't deserve respect for its quality in reporting.
The German example is a newspaper which is sold in - thank god - steeply declining quantities.

This newspaper is owned by a publishing house that's known for its questionable quality output for decades. This specific publishing house has entered the market for postal services, apparently thinking that the logistical experience by newspaper deliveries was enough qualification for the business.
Well, the enterprise for the postal service market does not fare very well. It's known for unacceptably low pay and it's not in a good shape.

So far no threat to our freedom or sovereignty. But we have a discussion in Germany; the labour union of the classic postal service wants our secretary of economy to turn their collective labour agreement into one for the whole market, including said enterprise. That's possible in German law if the agreement already covers more than half of the sector.

Well, this agreement includes a minimum wage that would quickly kill the publishing house-owned enterprise - and here comes the trouble.

Said newspaper launched one of its terrible campaigns - against the minimum wage. The postal service enterprise somehow managed to have its workers protesting against the higher wages - and only one newspaper reported this nonsense.

There's much more about it, but the essence is that a part of our media landscape manipulates public opinion by extremely poor and biased reporting, much more biased than the usual newspaper bias. It has become obvious for everyone that the press is not only strengthening our democracy - it can also be a threat to democracy (and thereby to freedom), exerting unacceptable and unjustified pressure on politicians (many examples) to pursue an agenda.
Elements of the press can be a lobbyist group in themselves.

I see good arguments for strict press regulations that decentralize ownership of newspapers, TV stations and Internet portals. Italy, USA, Australia, Russia and Germany provided enough bad examples in the past 15 years alone.

edit: The campaign was not successful. The underpaid workers of the postal service get their new minimum wage and the publishing house is about to sell the company.


Sven Ortmann

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