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A Growing International Force? German Journalism

The war in Georgia and the Olympic Games in Beijing have confirmed the growing international presence of German journalism. All large TV channels sent reporters in Georgia to cover the events unfolding in the Caucasus. During the evening news (Heute Journal), the main German public broadcaster ZDF is currently having live reports from Tbilisi, South Ossetia and North Ossetia, following step by step the military and political developments on both sides of the conflict.

Meanwhile, the ZDF website is updated regularly with articles, broadcasts and pictures. The German TV channel has showed it can compete head-on with the large Anglosaxon newsgathering organizations. On the other hand, ZDF has an impressive network of foreign correspondents, with bureaux in Brussels, Johannesburg, Cairo, London, Paris, Moscow, Nairobi, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Warsaw, Washington, New York, Vienna, Istanbul, Tokyo, and Tehran. Another confirmation of the growing international presence of German journalism came directly from Beijing. During the first days of the Olympic Games, the Chinese government decided to block the access to many Western Internet sites. Censorship targeted Amnesty International, The Voice of America, the BBC, but also some less-known sites, for example the Deutsche Welle (DW). In many regions of the Asian country, the access to some pages of the www.dw-world.de is still impossible. The DW was founded by the German government in 1953. At the time it was only a radio broadcaster. It became a TV channel in 1992 and subsequently a website. Currently, the Deutsche Welle radio broadcasts in 30 languages (compared with the BBC’s 32 languages), while the TV channel is in four languages (in addition to German, also English, French and Spanish) with original reporting and in-house news broadcasts. The DW web site is also in 30 languages (including Chinese). No wonder it was targeted by the Chinese authorities: it is quick, informative and analytical. The better-known Radio France Internationale broadcasts in 20 languages and offers a website in 19 languages. The international presence of German journalism is impressive. It is not a new phenomenon: Der Spiegel and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung have long had a large network of foreign correspondents, competing with The New York Times. But overtime the German public has shown an increasing interest in foreign news as Germany became the world’s largest exporting country. In this context, the German establishment is seeking to have a German voice in the world of information and is refusing to be overly dependent on the Anglosaxon media.