My opinion of German media is not high. We have many privately owned newspapers, magazines, television channels and radio stations, but when you do a bit of fact checking, it basically boils down to a few huge conglomerates dominating public opinion and thus politics. First and foremost there is Bertelsmann, now owned by former secretary and mistress gone widow Liz Mohn, and there is Springer, now owned by former child-minding mistress gone widow Friede Springer. They are both befriended with German chancellor Angela Merkel, quelle surprise. Otherwise, and with perhaps a little less influence on the shaping of politics, we have Burda, Holtzbrinck, Madsack and Bauer, and that is about it on the private front.
Public media in the form of television, radio and internet coverage meanwhile has become a huge and expensive bureaucratic mess, too often trying to copy private media by mostly looking at how many people are watching and not at the quality of the content watched. Talk-shows full of lobbyists are everywhere, and the well-paid hosts are treated like omniscient priests. There are, however, some small special-interest channels like ZDFinfo or the German-French Arte that really offer superb, homegrown documentaries of all kinds. Then again, the public networks let themselves be forced by private industry to erase huge media archives once paid for by the tax payer, for reasons of unfair competition. In good German tradition, no resistance was heard. Go figure.
Often quoted on the magazine front is ‘der Spiegel’, once a superficial investigative left-wing magazine and since gone more or less neoliberal with more than a quarter of it owned by Bertelsmann, something few people realise. And then there is the public Deutschlandfunk radio, a pale soundscape next to the journalism the BBC produces. While the latter, at least when it isn’t pitching fluffy human interest stories, has features like ‘from our own correspondent’, the former has unresearched opinions put into pseudo-intellectual words, mixed with music nobody wants to hear, like it still were the Sixties.
So, all in all, my opinion of German media is not high. Coming to that, when I think of Berlusconi and Murdoch, neither is it of media in other countries.