06 Mar 2018

Defamation of Austrian journalists -- what's at stake?

The attitude of the Austrian Vice Chancellor towards the media is similar to that of the Hungarian and Polish governments, German journalists warn. Whenever they dislike a piece of news, they undermine its legitimacy.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Defamation of Austrian journalists -- what's at stake? - NewsMavens
Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

In an appeal to the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz (from Austrian People's Party), German journalists warn of what is at stake when members of the Austrian government discredit public service media outlets.

In an open letter, the journalists wrote about being “dismayed” that “hundreds of journalists of the ORF” were accused of “spreading propaganda and producing fake reports”.

The fact that a neighbouring country had to speak up to denounce a matter pertaining to internal affairs can mean only one thing: Austria is now officially one of Europe's rogue countries.


Details from the story:

  • In an open letter, journalists of the German public service broadcasters called on Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) to act and condemned the attacks of FPÖ politicians on journalists.
  • They said that the Facebook post by Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache in which he accuses anchorman Armin Wolf, and thus the ORF, of lying crosses "the limits of political decency in dealing with free press and independent media." The situation reminded the journalists who signed the letter of the methods used by governments of Hungary and Poland, which restrict the independence of public broadcasters by the means of "pressure and defamation".
  • The text reads: "Dear Federal Chancellor, You have made a name for yourself in Germany through your honest words in interviews and television discussions, which makes us all the more astonished by your reluctance to address an issue of such importance to the freedom of opinion and press in a European country."
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