Feindbild Journalist 5: Journalist as enemy stereotype

Key findings of the study

  1. Negative record: Sixty-nine physical attacks on journalists were recorded in 2020. This is the highest number since our records began in 2015.
  2. Most dangerous workplace: Seventy-one percent of attacks took place at pandemic-related demonstrations.
  3. Geography of violence: Berlin was the geographical focus with 23 assaults. Saxony remained a hotspot with 19 attacks.
  4. A politically diverse range of different perpetrators: Thirty-three cases cannot be clearly assessed politically, 31 acts were assigned to the right-wing spectrum.
  5. Continuing trend: From the beginning of the year until mid-March 2021, the ECPMF registered 8 assaults.
  6. Overall view 2015-2020: The ECPMF examined and documented 182 cases.

This study documents 69 physical attacks on journalists in Germany in 2020. On average, press representatives were physically attacked on almost every fifth day. This is the highest figure recorded by the ECPMF since the survey began in 2015. Compared to the previous year (2019: 14 attacks), the number has increased almost fivefold.

This finding continues a development that began to become a dangerous normality in the everyday work of journalists in 2015: Journalists were spat upon, punched, kicked and had their cameras snatched out of their hands. With the loss of political support for Pegida and the decline in right-wing populist rallies, the attacks initially decreased. However, the public hatred of the press that was sown there has since become part of the ideological inventory, especially among right-wing open-minded and indignant radicals. This leads to a continuity of anti-press violence: It erupts abruptly whenever the opportunity presents itself.

The record number of physical attacks against journalists is therefore not a symptom of a “new quality of hostility towards the press“, but rather it reflects the potential for violence of a minority of the population.

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