Chilling case: Press Council warns of “snipers”.

Warzilek insisted that the decision was deliberately justified in great detail. He believes that sometimes after an “aggressive discussion about the creation of camps” an objective discussion is possible again.

On May 7, the “Standard” reported under the headline “Lena Schilling’s candidacy in turmoil” about accusations from Schilling’s personal and political background that the then-Green EU front-runner was spreading serious rumors and lies. The reason was one of the main topics of the election campaign.

Senate 1 of the Press Council said the decision, released Friday, “allows in principle for questionable, serious claims that a leading candidate of an election campaign party is spreading or making about fellow campaigners or journalists.” “From a media ethics perspective, questioning the character suitability of an ideal candidate for politics can inform the public of reasonable doubts about it.”

Criticism of anonymous citations

However, the committee saw a “violation of the need for conscience and correct messages” (point 2.1 of the Code of Ethics). Basically, anonymous quotes often cited as evidence are criticized. Readers were given the impression that the politician had a flawed character and that he might be suffering from psychological problems, an unusual and disproportionately serious accusation from a media outlet.

Danger of “snipers”.

According to the Press Council, “it would have been necessary to avoid anonymous quotes that contained only value judgments about Lena Schilling as a person and did not establish any context about specific events.” Because from Schilling’s context in the Green Party, it is clear that whistleblowers from the left-wing political spectrum and the climate movement can pursue their own interests.

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The Press Council is concerned that the reproduction of anonymous negative value judgments will give anonymous “snipers” an “easy way” to denigrate people in the public eye. The Press Council described it as “anxious to counter such developments”. Informants “should stand by their name if they want to publicly evaluate character traits on a personal level.”

“Certain and proven allegations”

According to the Press Council, it would have been necessary to report “only on concrete and proven allegations” and to avoid anonymous quotes “whose sole purpose is to make unverifiable assessments of the character of the politician concerned”. The Press Council asserted that the decision drew “very strict media ethics”. “There is no comparable case” when it comes to accepting anonymous quotes at the Press Council.

“Standard” protects the article

“The Standard” backed up its statement in a statement released on the resolution. The allegations made had political relevance and none of the allegations mentioned in the article were disputed. The media justified anonymizing the quotes because informants would otherwise have to fear negative consequences. The editor-in-chief insisted that the allegations were not only “meticulously cross-checked” but also “subjected to a comprehensive legal scrutiny”.

Green: Everyone should “learn from the case”

The Greens did not comment on the content of the ruling, but welcomed the fact that the Press Council “had dealt with the issue comprehensively and made a judgment” as the Press Council was “the right place for this reflection”. At the same time, it was stressed that it was important that “both politicians and the media look back and learn lessons from the case”. “This will be important for the upcoming election campaign and future political debates,” Green Party headquarters said in a statement to APA.

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