Theme: State power and the media

Friend and persecutor – an introduction
by Norbert Pütter and Heiner Busch
In today’s world, police and security services play an active role in selling their work to the media. They create events which media can report on, they try to bind journalists and media producers to the apparatus by providing them with „exclusive“ information and sometimes even material incentives. The flipside of this cosy give-and-take relationship between journalists and law enforcement, is a strategy of exclusion of non-cooperating media, criminal prosecutions or even direct use of force against, in particular, critical media.

The police’s disinformation politics during demonstrations
by Ulrike Donat, Michael Backmund and Karen Ullmann
Some years ago, the police instituted an active press service during mass demonstrations. They run media centres (for accredited journalists), they have press spokespersons on location, they publish one press release after another. During the G8 summit in Heiligendamm it became clear that this active press work also included the systematic spreading of disinformation: this ranged from the falsified number of injured officers to an imaginary number of „hooded violent offenders“ and clowns who – as was later revealed – were falsely accused of having sprayed the police with acid. Much of this disinformation had to be rectified retrospectively, but it was effective nonetheless.

Independent media during the G8 summit
by Anneke Halbroth and Jan Kühn
Since the protests against the WTO summit in Seattle in 1999, alternative media, such as Indymedia, free radios and newspaper projects, have become a central element of summit protests. Although their reach might still be limited, in Heiligendamm it was the alternative media that delivered the crucial pieces of the puzzle leading to the uncovering of the police’s deliberate disinformation politics.

Media, police and „black sheep“ in Bern
by Dinu Gautier
On 6 October 2007, two weeks before the national elections and at the end of the election campaign of the right-wing conservative Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP – Swiss People’s Party) that the party fought with racist slogans, the SVP was confronted with a diverse protest: the party’s „march on Bern“ was blocked at the edge of the city centre by a peaceful anti-racist celebration by thousands of citizens. With a chaotic police operation, law enforcement proved unable to stop escalations later on the day in front of the Federal Palace (Bundespalast). The ensuing political and media debates then failed to reflect the actual events.

Police reporters as PR workers for the police
by Oliver Brüchert
The dramatic crime picture depicted in the media is not only the result of ideological positions but in particular the working conditions of journalists reporting on police matters. Whether they see themselves as „tough guys“ or as „upmarket journalists“ – police reporters are always dependent on their cooperation with police and their information. They thereby reproduce the corresponding pictures of reality.

Journalistic experiences with police press centres
by Otto Diederichs
Reporters demand transparency from police press centres as well as accurate and up-to-date information – even when the matter at hand concerns internal workings of the apparatus. The practical experiences that journalists are making with press centres are, however, very diverse. Their work depends heavily on the position of the relevant regional interior minister or chief of police.

„Embedded journalists“ of the security services
by Ingo Niebel
The German public is regularly informed that the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst – BND) puts certain journalists under surveillance whilst it pays others as informants, uses them to influence public opinion in their favour or even employs them as agents. The last of a series of scandals of this nature came to light at the end of 2005. Now the Federal Government is also threatening „unembedded journalists“ with new surveillance methods.

Non-thematic contributions:

„Terrorist organisation“ – news on Article 129a StGB
by Anja Lederer
During the investigation against alleged members of the „militant group“, the Federal Crime Police (Bundeskriminalamt) and the Federal Public Prosecution (Bundesanwaltschaft) seem to have gone too far. Triggered by protests of social scientists against the arrest of a colleague, the wide remits of the Anti-Terror Article 129a of the German Criminal Code are subject to political debate again.

30 year anniversary of the „German Autumn“ – a review
by Wolf-Dieter Narr
Especially against the backdrop of the newly globalised fight against terrorism, it should be self-evident that also the history of the „German terrorism“ of the 1970s can only be adequately understood when analysed in the context of the development of the state’s monopoly of power. The two-volume edition of „The RAF and left-wing terrorism“ (Die RAF und der linke Terrorismus, Hamburg 2006), edited by Wolfgang Kraushaar, does not meet this requirement.

New secret service law in Italy
by Yasha Maccanico
Recent Italian secret service scandals ranged from illegal surveillance operations to the collaboration in the CIA’s rendition programme. In August 2007, the parliament passed a new secret service law that re-structures the service and places it more firmly under the auspices of the prime minister.