Standing Firm in Times of Populism: Journalism between attitude and independence

Standing Firm in Times of Populism

The Fourth Estate—the press and news media—possesses considerable political and social influence on citizens, even though it does not formally hold political power. This endows journalists with a particular ethical responsibility in their reporting. At the same time, they can only fulfil this particular role if their independence from interference is granted.

In recent years, the success of right-wing populist parties and movements has turned out to be a particular challenge to journalism. Populist rhetoric frequently attacks journalists’ work and credibility: it is a common strategy to question media reports in order to spread mistrust and exacerbate rifts in society. But populist success also shakes journalists’ self-understanding to the core: How should they cover attacks on a system they defend or when they themselves have become a target? How can they defend their credibility? Does their role change when the political landscape changes?

In this commentary, Marie Wachinger and Christoph Abels address these questions, drawing on two workshops held at the Hertie School of Governance.

Download the Commentary here.

Marie Wachinger and Christoph Abels are Dahrendorf Forum Research Associates based at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.


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