Journalism and the Public Mission: How Will We Report?


Stefanie Lohaus of Missy Magazine; photo credit: re:publica/Jan Zappner (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Journalism is constantly changing. But which formats will shape the market in the future and how can journalism further develop? Our partner, the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education), discussed these issues at the sub-conference Public Value Journalism. In the following, we will give you an excerpt of the topics discussed at the #rp15.

Jamie Pallot introduces the concept of "Immersive Journalism"; credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Leading speaker of the track James Pallot gave us an exciting insight into the interface of media and journalism which could radically change news coverage in the future. In Immersive Journalism different scenes can be reenacted virtually in a three-dimensional world in combination with virtual reality techniques, becoming a vivid experience for consumers (listeners or readers is too limited a term here). Harvard graduate Nonny de la Peña developed this kind of nonfictional storytelling. Together with Peña, Pallot founded the company Emblematic Group. As an example, he gave a demonstration of what it must feel like to be in a prison cell in Guantanamo. The aim is for people to better understand and relate to the content through intense reliving of the situation. The audience asked critical counter questions and rightly so. Their questions regarded ethics on one hand and whether this would truly change their perception on the other. After all, as a successor of the newspaper, tv didn't do much for genuine concern. It remains to be seen how this controversial and fascinating form of journalism will develop in the future and whether it will deteriorate to virtual disaster tourism.

(From left) Andre Meister, Stefanie Lohaus, Sebastian Esser, Ines Pohl and Friedemann Karig are dicussing about crowdfunded journalism; credit: re:publica/Jan Zappner (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Andre Meister (, Ines Pohl from the taz, Sebastian Esser (Krautreporter) and Stefanie Lohaus representing the Missy Magazine, discussed the possibilities and challenges of crowdfunding in journalism in the inspiring panel "Funktioniert Community finanzierter Journalismus in Deutschland?" "Does community financed journalism in Germany work?". From all the different stories of how the institutions originated, they carved out one distinctive feature: Do people pay for a newspaper which exists or that it exists? In each case, the relationship with the readers is influenced by it. If readers have a close relationship by indirectly helping to establish the medium, they will not voice their criticism in regard to content but rather by revealing their disappointment. In addition, answering a question from the audience, Ines Pohl from the taz once again stated clearly that "journalism is an expression of democracy." Therefor, state financing undermines the signification of journalism. Pohl continues: "We would rather print half the page and trust that people are concerned about free journalism and are prepared to pay the money." Crowd journalism is not only exciting when it comes to financial aspects. Sebastian Esser made clear that when it comes to certain topics, the exchange with the own community can be very helpful in being able to ask readers questions directly, as in "we tell you what we know and ask you what we don't."

Arne Busse (bpb), Daniel Seitz (mediale pfade), Marie Meimberg (301+) and Anna Moll (Mesh Collective) devoted themselves to another growing area of journalism "(Netz-)Politische Meinungsbildung mit Webvideo und YouTube" "(Network) political opinion forming via Web Video and YouTube". Among other things, the debate centered around this media's range of influence primarily among youngsters and how it could be used to convey serious content in an appealing manner. Many product companies have discovered this market a while ago and are spreading their ideas to their benefit. Therefor, it is all the more important not to leave this field up to the companies but to communicate an independent freedom of opinion via the video format. Movements such as "YouTuber gegen Nazis" "YouTuber vs Nazis" demonstrate that the scene is indeed dealing with socially relevant topics. In such cases, it is important to take the YouTubers themselves seriously and to meet them on an equal footing. In this way, it may be possible to use this channel for serious journalism and political education in the future. 

photo credit top image: re:publica/Jan Zappner (CC BY-SA 2.0)