The German Press Council has dismissed as unfounded the large number of complaints received about the headline “Die Lockdown-macher” published by the daily “Bild”. According to a statement published by the panel on Thursday, the editorial designation of three experts on the corona pandemic as “lockdown creators” has a core of fact. Therefore, it does not violate the journalistic duty of diligence.
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“Bild” had shown portrait photos of the scientists wearing corona measures as “Christmas presents” in the print edition and on the Internet. The German Press Council decided that the influence of scientists on political decisions about corona measures could be tested. Therefore, the term “lockdown makers” is a permissible exaggeration that is covered by free speech.
It is also permissible to depict scientists side by side in portraits. The majority of the members of the Press Council concluded that it was also permissible to portray the three scientists side by side in a portrait and that it would not damage the reputation of the press in accordance with Section 1 of the Press Code. . . Through their media appearances during the corona pandemic, the experts themselves became public and had to accept personal criticism, the committee assessed.
The German Press Council received complaints from 94 people and scientific institutions against the headline. They criticized that the article gave the impression that scientists were personally responsible for the coronavirus measures and not politicians. According to critics, this fuels conspiracy theories and promotes hate speech against scientists.
The German Press Council is the voluntary self-regulation of the press. Last year some 2,500 complaints were received and 60 complaints were published about serious violations of the press code. (with agencies)