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The impending disappearance of the world


The German-speaking global freelance journalism network weltreporter.net celebrated its 15th anniversary in Berlin with a panel discussion about foreign journalism. In the sold-out Grüne Salon of the Volksbühne more than 120 guests took part in the discussion with the theme “The impending disappearance of the world”. High quality foreign journalism is struggling due to the media crisis in Germany, where a lack of resources means risks are often outsourced to foreign correspondents. What does the future hold then in this situation?

The future of foreign journalism discussed (l-r) Bettina Rühl (Weltreporter Nairobi), Lutz Mükke (Reporter und media scientist), Marcus Bensmann (Correctiv) Jochen Wegner (editor Zeit online). © Rainer Stosberg

The world became so complicated and confusing that even long standing foreign correspondents are finding it harder to understand it, said Jochen Wegner, editor in chief of Zeit online. Bettina Ruehl, weltreporter.net spokesperson and freelance correspondent in Nairobi, had a different view: in fact, correspondents often foresee crises, but media are reluctant to publish or broadcast the reports as long as there is no major ‘bang’. Christina Schott (weltreporter in Indonesia) confirmed this assessment: the creeping Islamicisation in Southeast Asia, for example, is largely ignored, despite the threatening escalation.

Marcus Bensmann © Rainer Stosberg

Marcus Bensmann (Correctiv) pleaded for the increased use of social media: classical media use is being replaced by social and electronic media, and ultimately everyone could now be journalist and reader – provided they know how journalism works.
As an example, Bensmann cited the reporter factory of the foundation-financed research network Correctiv.

Full house in the Salon of the Volksbühne Berlin ©Rainer Stosberg

For reporter and media scientist Lutz Mükke, the classic correspondents remain indispensable. Only they could assume the bridging function needed to mediate events abroad to the public back home.

A young journalist asked in the debate: should I still become a foreign correspondent? The reporters’ advice: absolutely! There is hardly a more exciting job than reporting from abroad. With this in mind, reporters and audience raised champagne glasses at the end of the debate: “To the next 15 years!”


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