Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine makes us aware of the political in society again and makes it clear that journalism must reflect this more closely instead of retreating into a supposedly balanced distance.
As “part of the critical infrastructure of democracy”, journalists have to address people in their dismay, classify facts and events, show lines of conflict as well as courses of action or solutions, explains the Nuremberg communication scientist Volker Banholzer in a specialist article that has now been published. And they should make it clear which values they follow and where they stand. He bases his reasoning on the Belgian political scientist Chantal Mouffe and the American philosopher John Dewey and describes them as essential for overcoming current crises.
A study by the Center for Monitoring, Analysis and Strategy (Cemas) on conspiracy stories and the spread of Russian disinformation propaganda in the Ukraine war illustrates how relevant a strengthened democratic awareness is: Two out of ten people surveyed believe completely or partially that the West has made up its own mind Conspiring interests against Russia and Putin or Ukraine building bioweapons together with the USA in secret laboratories. In the representative online survey of around two thousand people carried out in the first half of April, it was noticeable that the distribution according to voting preference resulted in the highest (at least partial) approval among AfD supporters at 58 percent. More than half of the people with a high willingness to protest against the corona protection measures (rather) suspected a conspiracy behind the war against Ukraine.
Although even with a solid survey, caution should be exercised in concluding from parallel observations that one is causal for the other: the results clearly show that the vast majority of society, 80 percent, are amenable to reasonable arguments, but only 65 percent are amenable to media reports trust the war in Ukraine. This is an appeal to journalism to explain even more clearly how it works.