For visitors, Germany tends to seem peaceful, safe and excessively tidy. In fact, Germany has relatively low crime-rates and hasn’t experienced much inner state-violence since World War II. Autochthonous minorities like the Sorbs in the East or the Danish in the North are granted specific right to protect their culture and ensure political participation. But still there are lines of conflict in the German society: Even more than 20 years after the German reunification the division between East and West Germany remains.
During the reunification, there had been massive transformations in the former GDR that took place in a very short period of time. Many of these changes still have ramifications until today. Most obviously, there is still an income gap between the former east and the west, but there are also con siderable cultural differences. E.g. in their media usage patterns, east Germans watch in general more TV, prefer private channels over public broadcasters and read fewer nation-wide newspapers in general. Possible explanations are a higher focus on entertainment and a lack of trust in political institutions compared to west Germany. Besides this, the question of how to deal with the socialistic past and its heritage is a matter that remains subject to debate in the German media landscape.
A development with unpredictable long-term effects is the “demographic shift”. Birth rates are quite low in Germany, so a transition to a more and more elderly society seems inevitable. This poses major challenges towards the social systems and the economy, but also has an effect on media.Traditional media such as TV, radio and print media are still dominating. Also media content caters often to the interests of the elderly.
An undissolved area of conflict is the adequate representation of migrants and minorities in German media. The biggest migrant community in Germany are Turkish and Germans from Turkish decent. Tens of thousands were invited to come to work in (West-) Germany as so called Gastarbeiter (Guest workers) during the 1960s. Since then, there has been a constant, often paternalistic debate about the problems of integration and alleged segregation. Existing problems are often framed by German politicians and the media as being connected to Islam. Especially in the light of recent developments, like the rise of ISIS and growing refugee movements, the image of Muslims has worsened and people of Turkish or Arab descent are perceived as a threat. Islamophobia is once again on the rise and is expressed through populist mass-movements like PEGIDA but also in extremist right-wing terrorism like in the so called National-Socialist Underground.
However, it is also a major debate in the media:
Interview: Rana Göroglu (Mediendienst Integration)
Unfortunately they [Germans are represented mostly negative. But this doesn’t only concern topics revolving around Muslim and Islam but generally most of the issues because negative headlines simply sell better.And unfortunately this applies also to issues regarding Islam and Moslems.
But I do also believe that journalists tend to reproduce stereotypes. There is a dominating negative image of Muslims and Islam in the society also partly due to this negative coverage and I think it’s hard to break this circle.
There has been a shift in this image since 9/11. You could say “the Muslims” are the new “foreigners”. Back then there was a lot reporting about “the foreigners” and all problems like problems with integration, “retrogressively”, worse graduation results and everything connected to that. This image was more and more superimposed in the past years by “the Muslim”. When we have negative reports then mostly about “the others”.
So the Muslims are mostly those “others” we report about.