Criticism of the media: social issues often “forgotten news”

Status: 04/22/2022 4:40 p.m

News that doesn’t make the news – each year a jury chooses topics that they feel don’t get enough media coverage. There are many social issues in the current “Top Ten”.

The annual ‘forgotten messages’ ranking was dominated by social issues in 2021. According to the jury of scientists and journalists, the forgotten top topic number 1 was the gradual abolition of the so-called freedom of learning materials in schools, as reported by the News Enlightenment Initiative (INA) in Cologne. People who do not have health insurance cover come second, and children and young people who care for them come third. The top ten list is compiled by the initiative in cooperation with the newsroom of the Deutschlandfunks released.

The editors argue that many topics that they consider important have been given too little or no attention in the media. This was ultimately due to the corona pandemic, “but also to structures in the media that mean that important topics do not appear on the media agenda despite their social relevance”.

Creeping abolition of the freedom of learning materials

According to the jury, the top example of this was the gradual abolition of the freedom to use learning materials. Initiatives and politicians have repeatedly demanded that school education should not depend on the wallet. Nevertheless, in four federal states there is no longer any freedom for learning materials, i.e. above all no more free textbooks. This increases the pressure on other federal states to cut these funds as well. “We are of the opinion that there should be a lot more reporting on this point because it affects so incredibly many people in Germany,” said INA Managing Director Hektor Haarkötter.

“Top Ten Forgotten Messages 2022”

The News Enlightenment Initiative (INA) and Deutschlandfunk have presented this year’s “Top Ten of Forgotten News”:

1. The gradual abolition of the freedom to use learning materials

2. Gaps in the German healthcare system: Countless people do not have health insurance

3. Caring for children and young people

4. Palliative care for the homeless

5. No power for the councils? Works council modernization law almost unknown

6. Sustainable highway from ash

7. Sexism in political parties

8. The extinction of butterflies

9. Sustainable building innovation through “Lego” construction and building material made from recycled plastic and residues

10. Psychological abuse in dance sport

The jury gave second place to the situation of people without health insurance. Affected are, for example, former self-employed and immigrants who are not officially registered. Insurance coverage is particularly important in a pandemic. With third place, the jury wants to draw attention to almost half a million children and young people who are involved in caring for relatives. They rendered an enormous service to society, but were hardly noticed in public discussion.

“Especially in the current situation, you can see how quickly stories can disappear from the agenda because a few topics dominate the reporting,” criticized Haarkötter. In this context, one could almost speak of topical populism.

Butterflies and ash highways

Among other forgotten topics, the jury chose, for example, the lack of palliative care for the homeless and the Works Council Modernization Act. The jury also considered the topics of sustainable motorways made of ashes, the disappearance of butterfly species and sexism in political parties to be neglected in the media. Allegations of sexism recently led to an affair at the Left Party and thus to a lot of reporting.

Proposals are reviewed by students

Once a year, the INA, together with the news department of the Deutschlandfunks a “top ten” of topics neglected by the media. A jury of media scientists, journalists and experts selected the topics again this year. The starting point are suggestions from the population. Neglected messages can be suggested to the INA by e-mail, post or web form.

The INA is a non-profit organization whose members include media scientists, students and journalists. The proposals are checked by student research teams at several universities in Germany. Accompanied by lecturers, the students determine whether the proposed news is factually correct and correct and whether it has actually been neglected by the media. The INA jury then assesses the relevance of the topics and selects the “top ten” neglected news items. Since the beginning of 2015 there has been a cooperation with the newsroom of the Deutschlandfunks.

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