For us at 'Reporters Without Borders' ('Reporters sans frontières' / RSF), the beginning of a new year is a time to look back at the situation regarding freedom of the press in the world and especially in Germany. Here, the working conditions for journalists during the second year of COVID-19 have been strongly shaped by the pandemic, specifically by the aggressiveness experienced during the so-called 'Querdenker' (lateral thinkers) demonstrations. Already in 2020, we counted at least 65 violent attacks on journalists in the country, a figure which has never been so high, and five times as many as in 2019.
On 5 October 2021, when I took part in the online discussion during the lecture programme on 'Freedom of the Press, Fake News and Data Protection' ('Pressefreiheit, Fake News und Datenschutz') together with the Paraguayan journalist, Andrés Colmán Gutiérrez, it was already clear that we will continue to be intensively involved with this topic. Not a week goes by without reports on new attacks during or on the fringes of demonstrations. These days, we are evaluating and verifying dozens of these cases. How many it will be in the end cannot be foreseen, but one thing is clear: in 2021, the climate towards journalists clearly heated up yet again. On our worldwide ranking list for freedom of the press, Germany dropped from 11th to 13th place among 180 nations.