Four colleagues have received prizes for their contributions on economically relevant topics. The articles were published as a report on page three or in the business section of the newspaper.
Four colleagues have received prizes for their contributions on economically relevant topics. The articles were published as a report on page three or in the business section of the newspaper.
The city of Kassel has bestowed the “Kassel Democracy Impulse” award to the authors of the “NSU Protocols”. The SZ team made up of Annette Ramelsberger, Wiebke Ramm, Tanjev Schultz and Rainer Stadler received the award for documenting the NSU trial. The jury explained that the protocols are a unique historical document and a deep drilling into society. The award is given in memory of the victims of right-wing extremist crimes.
© SZ vom 19.09.2020 / SZ
Letters from readers also reach you in faraway China. Most of them now arrive digitally, but some readers still write real letters. Last year a reader sent me a postcard with the Japanese word karōshi: death by overwork. My boss thought that was particularly funny. The card has been hanging over my desk since then.
Among the letters there is praise, but of course also criticism. Including the accusation that we write too negatively about China. The allegation is not new. It is often raised by the authorities: The Communist Party (KP) sees itself as a victim of foreign media. The state press laments an anti-Chinese conspiracy. China’s former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is said to have asked Angela Merkel to please put the German press in its place, in the interests of German-Chinese friendship, of course. The Chancellor had given up. All he has to do is have what is being written about her translated. Then Wen would quickly realize that the Chancellor has no influence on German journalists either.
What you write about as a reporter in China has changed a lot in the past few decades. As a correspondent, you are no longer just responsible for mapping the changes in politics and society. Rather, one accompanies the rise of a new superpower – with all tensions and conflicts. Here in Beijing we sometimes argue quite violently among colleagues about our assessment.
In the past people wrote about China and meant a developing country on the way to modernization. Today people write about China and look at a state that exerts immense influence on the world – including Germany, where freedom is the benchmark. Because the Chinese government has long since begun to influence the situation beyond its borders. The Communist Party presents its system of surveillance and growth as an alternative to democracy and a market economy, weakens human rights, undermines international organizations, and divides the EU.
It has never been more important to understand China and its rulers. The dilemma is: it has never been so difficult. Politically, the climate has worsened since party leader Xi Jinping took office in 2012. Non-governmental organizations have had to give up or are under close scrutiny, preferring to stay away from sensitive issues. Professors are instructed to stop speaking to foreign media. Last year a dozen historians declined interview requests on a play on the 100th anniversary of the May 4th Movement, the first mass political movement in China. Only after weeks did a researcher agree, but out of fear he was only quoted without a name. The pressure is now so high that it is difficult to find interview partners even with politically undisputed topics or successful projects of the KP.
Activists who want to speak must be afraid of being arrested. Comprehensive monitoring of social media and messenger services also makes it almost impossible to protect informants. Even if you leave your cell phone at home to do research: no matter where you go, your passport number is saved, your face is scanned and movement data is recorded. In many places, the watchdogs are already waiting when you get off the train. They know where to fly and what stories to work on. Sometimes you have no choice but to pull the telephone cable out of the wall in your hotel room and push a chest of drawers in front of the door, if you want to have at least a few hours of peace from the uninvited visitors.
In Reporters Without Borders’ worldwide ranking of press freedom, China has now fallen to one of the bottom places. Hardly anywhere more journalists are in jail. Numerous journalists and citizen journalists were arrested and kidnapped during the Corona crisis. Even if the immediate danger for international correspondents is significantly lower, the pressure on them also increases. Sometimes journalists only receive short-term visas with a term of one month. It used to be twelve. In the first half of the year alone, China had a record 17 foreign journalists by canceling their accreditation.
On the night train, a fellow traveler recently asked me whether I, as a foreign journalist, would be subject to censorship like my Chinese colleagues, i.e. whether the authorities would have to approve my texts before they were printed in Germany. He knows the list of taboos is long. In the end, the train compartment sat together, Chinese from all parts of the country talked about their experiences with state censorship. In a village a day’s journey from Beijing, where there is neither running water nor a school, a farmer asked me if I could tell him what the government was removing from the Internet. He noticed that more and more was disappearing. Anything important that he should know about?
Many people have gotten used to the censorship, so they are still a long way from agreeing to it. I have been followed several times by watchdogs in rural areas. And my drivers, whom I usually only get to know at the train station, then accelerate. “Come on, let’s hang them out,” they say and turn into the next side street.
Journalists are certainly not superheroes. But if someone loses their child because a company sold contaminated vaccines or because there was sloppy construction work, it should be written down. In provinces, government officials often react aggressively because they want to prevent research from drawing the central government’s attention to grievances in their region. That could cost her head. A colleague recently said that she had arrived in a village and the residents shouted: “The journalists are finally here!”
At the same time, the government is making it increasingly clear where it is drawing the red line. It marks topics that Beijing does not want to read: Xinjiang, Tibet and stories about the Chinese leader and party leader Xi Jinping. Corona has also been on the list this year. In August, the State Department sent out a 43-page document telling correspondents how to report on Hong Kong. If the Chinese government has its way, journalists should spread “positive energy”. Don’t be a complainer, but a cheerleader in politics.
The Communist Party has long preferred to tell its own story. In China, but also internationally. To do this, it pumps billions into foreign broadcasters, invests in media collaborations and is active with its own accounts in social networks. It became clear at the beginning of the year in Wuhan that this can have serious consequences. A day before the region was cordoned off, many people in the city had no idea how serious the situation is. The authorities had not reported any new cases for two weeks because of a local people’s congress. The media preferred to speak of rumors than to warn people about the spread of the coronavirus. The only recordings from the city were provided by the state media after the lockdown. They should calm down. Doctors from Wuhan could only be interviewed under the supervision of state security forces.
Most foreign media outlets only employ one or two correspondents in China. My reporting area comprises a fifth of the world’s population, the region is larger than the European continent. I am writing about a country where hundreds of millions of people live the equivalent of a few euros a week, where most millionaires live, and where the world’s largest tech companies are based. Plus Xinjiang, the major conflict between the USA and China. And Hong Kong, where I spent months last year and followed the street battles through the plexiglass of my gas mask. It’s an almost impossible task.
There can be no claim to completeness, which is why I sometimes defiantly refer to myself as a Beijing correspondent. That would mean that I would still be responsible for 20 million people, twice as many people as there are in Austria or Israel. My job seems particularly impossible to me when my colleagues ask me what the Chinese think about a certain topic. Just think of any topic, let’s take the mask requirement in German supermarkets, and then tell me what the Germans think about it. And you are only pigeonholing 80 million people, I 1.4 billion.
I travel across the country, talk to experts, to my neighbors, to friends. And I read a lot on the net. But just as individual posts on social media in Germany do not reflect the mood, a look at social networks in China does not provide any impression of the situation in the country. There is also censorship there. Perhaps a topic is discussed because many people care about it. Maybe it will not be discussed because so many people care about it, but the censors have already banned it from the net.
Back to the letters to the editor and the accusation that we are writing too negatively about China. The most read text by me in 2019 was an essay about the diligence and ambition of young Chinese and why young people in this country can learn from them. But I also think of my colleague Pascal Nufer, who lived and worked for Swiss television in Shanghai for five years. A few weeks ago he published a documentary on his departure, a reconciliation with this country, as he says. China’s pursuit of the perfect surveillance state would have increasingly worn him down. On his last tour through China he therefore went in search of the “other China”. In his report he takes his time again, drifts, follows his housekeeper into the country, travels through the Himalayan mountains and meets up with young rock stars. His journey also tells of a pain that many correspondents are feeling in this country these days. A broken heart, it sometimes feels, is part of the job description today. Perhaps you can learn that from Nufer: that in all this madness you don’t wait for his goodbye to talk about magic.
Today Martin Lorenz answers the question of two readers. He is a printing engineer and has been taking care of the production and printing quality of SZ with his colleagues for over 20 years.
A security vulnerability in the iOS operating system caused a sensation in July 2016: several hundred million Apple devices were at risk, a simple multimedia file was sufficient to execute malicious code on the devices. IPhone users could become victims of a hack via iMessage or MMS.
The digital department of the Süddeutsche Zeitung published a report on this in the early evening of July 21. “You should update your operating system for iPhone and Mac immediately,” the message was overwritten. Five short paragraphs, just over 2000 characters – normally hardly worth mentioning.
However, on the evening of the publication alone, the article was viewed more than 150,000 times, an extreme value. The source at that time: unknown – and the excitement in the editorial office was accordingly great. Which channel did so many readers come from, whose origin we couldn’t identify?
Such peculiarities piled up. The number of visits to individual articles increased extremely every week, and the origin of the readership remained unclear at all times. The search for the source finally led to a preset program on Apple devices in which users were shown journalistic content. The selection criteria for which articles could have chances of reach remained obscure. So did the impact on our journalism.
And yet it was important to realize that it was a coincidence. Because we are interested in you. For you as a reader of Süddeutsche Zeitung. Whether you prefer to read large reports or prefer essays, for example. Whether you prefer to watch the Bundesliga coverage or read analyzes of international conferences down to the last line.
All of this is exciting for an editorial team to know. Because for you as a reader, we want to report as intensively as possible on the topics that really move you. Those that concern you in everyday life, for which you need backgrounds, and also about those that you feel entertained with. If we hadn’t realized that some of our articles would be read unusually often by accident, this might have led us to focus on a readership that does not correspond to those who are loyal to us in everyday life.
Of course we don’t want to talk to you by mouth either. Southgerman newspaper, that can and should always mean a challenge, surprise and reporting on matters that are not very popular, but are still important. For society and our coexistence.
The Southgerman newspaper reaches up to 20 million people a month with its digital offerings. They come to us more than 100 million times in the same period to find out about current world events or to read the background. While it was clear decades ago that the content was read where the editors placed it, in the newspaper, the digital space has become a differentiated construct of publications and distribution structures, the knowledge of which is essential.
We still reach many, especially loyal and interested readers via the homepage. However, an enormous number of people also come to us via search engines, especially Google, if they want to get specific information. And in addition to the already classic social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, more and more apps and offers have entered the market in recent years that do not create journalistic content, but do disseminate it. Services such as Upday, for example, the Pocket Recommendations in Firefox, Flipboard, Sony News, Microsoft News, News Republic (an app by the Chinese company Bytedance) or the Apple offer already described.
In order to know who you are and what you are interested in, as editors we have various options. On the one hand, of course, a wealth of experience through decades of work with content and journalism. On the other hand, countless conversations, letters to the editor and feedback on the newspaper, homepage or digital edition.
Of course, we also work with data. Half a dozen colleagues from the analysis team take care of collecting the correct data, preparing it and using it in a meaningful way in cooperation with the editorial team and product teams. For example, we measure how often articles are called up. Or how long it is spent on individual content. We are also interested in the ways in which readers find us, whether they come back or when a subscription is concluded. Not a matter of course on an individual level, data protection is extremely important to us in all of this, but anonymized and as a group. Web analysts, data scientists, statisticians and even experts in machine learning work together to make data readable and ultimately usable.
Why are we doing this?
Anyone who misses the world tries to make it more understandable. Less to leave them to the realm of the mystical, but to try to understand them better. To enable a different perspective on them that can hold new insights.
This is how we quantify, sum up, categorize and analyze – all with the aim of broadening our horizons and penetrating deeper into the relationships that make our world what it is.
It is all too understandable to be skeptical about the quantification of the world. Because tracking is associated with negative experiences and ideas in many ways. Terms such as metric, benchmark, performance indicator or accountability started their triumphal march in the management literature of the 1960s. As a megatrend, they have influenced and shaped countless areas of society in the past decades – be it education, health care, security or even journalism.
The urge to measure every little detail and make change representable results from a rapidly changing world. The faster and more fundamental this change takes place, the stronger the desire for objective criteria, orientation and confirmation of your own actions. At the very moment when the solutions of existing elites are no longer trusted, data should provide a hold.
We feel the effects of the data-infused world in everyday life. Be it annoying advertising that follows us for weeks on the Internet, or the question of the discount card at the supermarket checkout. Other examples, such as targeted campaigns or, in extreme cases, surveillance apps like those in China, which create comprehensive movement profiles, make us shy away from measuring our own behavior – even if it is done in accordance with data protection and anonymously.
Editorial work with data has nothing to do with all of this. Findings about which articles, topics and formats are read more or less intensely simply serve to better understand how the readers’ ideas correspond to our reality. In other words, we don’t want to know better than you what you are interested in.
As editors, we work data-informed, not data-driven. Data does not dictate which topics we deal with and what we report on. They only provide information, food for thought and can be a support in everyday topic planning as well as medium and long-term journalistic development. Data and numbers are of course only one form of evidence. Experience, feeling, theoretical constructs and qualitative research also play a decisive role.
Basically, data is always just a tool. Data itself does not provide answers and solutions, nor are they superior to the long-term experience of an editorial team. They can provide information about whether your own expectations correspond to reality. You can give feedback and be a compass to go your own way more purposefully.
We want to create the best possible journalism for our readers with all the information we have gained. Data help us with that, it is undisputed. But not just Data. “Not everything that counts can be counted – and not everything that can be counted counts,” wrote sociologist William Bruce Cameron in his 1963 book, Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking. It is a quote that we should keep in mind when we measure the world.
Anniversaries. This is the name of the great and long novel by Uwe Johnson, whose first volume was published in 1970 and the last, the fourth, in 1983. The focus is on Gesine Cresspahl, who fled the GDR and lives in New York with her daughter during the Vietnam War. In 366 chapters, each of which stands for a day between August 21, 1967 and August 20, 1968, if you follow Johnson’s leaps, you can also read a good three-quarter century of German and other history using the example of a woman, a family. This begins with Gesine’s father’s year of birth in 1888 and ends in the summer of 1968, when Soviet tanks ended the Prague spring.
Anniversaries. The newspaper is also something of a daily chapter that captures events and facts, but also feelings, opinions, perceptions. The newspaper, regardless of whether it is printed or distributed digitally, is a constant update of what constitutes the world of its readers, every hour, every day. It has won a church over the years and decades. This community is constantly changing, and so is the newspaper. Some of those who have read it for a long time measure it by how it used to be. On the other hand, others who have just joined have the feeling that the newspaper, especially the printed one, is too attached to what it used to be.
Incidentally, the same perceptions exist in the editorial office itself; some older people want to preserve what the essence of the newspaper is for them, even the spirit (if it really becomes important in Germany, the terms spirit and essence are never far away). Others, mostly younger ones, consider it urgent to say goodbye to the old ways of thinking, forms and formats. Both are right, because a newspaper needs the long-term readers (“I’ve been a subscriber for 30 years …”) as well as the new ones (“I hardly read anything on paper …”). If you have been reading the newspaper yourself for decades, you know that. If you have worked in the editorial department for decades, you also know the cyclical return of the urgent desire for major reforms. Or, in a slight modification of a well-known saying: The greatest critics of the moose later become some.
Anniversaries. It has been 75 years since Southgerman newspaper first appeared. On October 6, 1945, a Saturday, they were available for 20 pfennigs in destroyed Munich. It was eight pages long, and the print run was at least 357,000 copies. The SZ was printed on a machine from 1924, which was in the basement of the publishing house of Munich’s latest news had survived the bombing raids on Sendlinger Strasse. In a symbolic act, part of the lead set from Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” was melted down for the first printing plates of the press. The U.S. military government in Bavaria had given license three to three men: the conservative journalist August Schwingenstein, the social democrat Edmund Goldschagg and the Catholic Franz Josef Schöningh. Later the later editor-in-chief Werner Friedmann and the general director of the publishing house, Hans Dürrmeier, also joined as shareholders and shareholders. The publishing house and editorial staff of the SZ also reflected what shaped the early years of the Federal Republic: Among those who were to shape the new democratic era were opponents of the Nazis, indifferent people, fellow travelers and certainly also former Nazis. In this regard, the license holder Franz Josef Schöningh, for example, but also the later editor-in-chief Hermann Proebst, were clearly burdened.
Apart from the Friedmann family, nobody from the families of the former shareholders is now involved in the publishing house. At the end of 2007, the heirs of the previous shareholders sold their shares to the Südwestdeutsche Medienholding (SWMH), to a group of publishers from Baden-Württemberg and a publisher from Rhineland-Palatinate. The SWMH, which includes many newspapers in the south and southwest of the republic, was born as a holding company and has been in the process of becoming a kind of media group and possibly even a company for years.
In any case, in 75 years, SZ, the local newspaper that appeared twice a week, became the most important national newspaper in Germany (a friendly greeting to Frankfurt). At the same time, it remained the most important newspaper in her homeland of Munich and Bavaria. This dual role is what makes SZ so special; if it goes well, subscribers should be informed about Manhattan as well as about Giesing. This is not easy, especially since financing this claim has made it even more difficult in times of falling advertising revenues. This becomes particularly clear in the weeks of the Corona crisis, which also means a further, significant drop in advertising revenue for all newspaper publishers. This leads to a paradoxical situation: Although people’s interest in trustworthy information increases in such a crisis, which can be seen from the higher number of users and subscribers, the revenue nevertheless declines. The industry, including the SZ, has to meet increased demand with less money.
Anniversaries. October 6 is not only an important date for the printed newspaper. On October 6, 1995, the 50th “birthday” of the newspaper, “SZonNet” went online. There was no editorial office yet, but not many at the time, who used the network, which was really new at the time, not only for professional purposes, could read and read articles from the newspaper. The beginnings of the website and the digital edition of the SZ are now again, one can hardly believe it, a quarter of a century old.
The tremendous boost from digitization and the associated complete change in public and private communication really started in the second half of the past decade. An indication of this is a fact that has played a role in the internal history of the Süddeutscher Verlag (SV) to this day: In 2007, the SV’s sales and revenues from advertising business, sales and other activities were higher than ever before – and never again . The publisher was worth a lot of money, which made those who bought the majority of it less happy than those who sold their shares.
The online business was interesting, but was by no means economically close to the center of attention until the second half of the past decade. At that time, money, if not very much, was made online almost exclusively with advertising; there was no so-called paywall or even a digital edition of the newspaper to be paid for. This was also due to the fact that the use of mobile devices as information and reading tools only really took off when Apple introduced its first smartphone in 2007.
Reading on paper is a centuries-old cultural technique. And for over 150 years, the printed newspaper, financed by advertisements and the sale of the newspaper, has been part of everyday life for many people, not only, but especially in the so-called middle classes. This has been changing more or less quickly for quite some time.
Mass communication began with the invention of the printing press. Previously, messages were exchanged face to face or handwritten in the broadest sense. The printing press made it possible to reproduce texts; which in turn was closely related to the Enlightenment, as a result of which more and more people learned to read. The rotary presses of the 19th century, which in principle continue to serve today, ensured unprecedented mass distribution of printed matter – of newspapers.
The next big change was the introduction of the so-called electronic media, which later became radio and then television. Not only were these media faster, they reached more people. Despite many fears (“Are we enjoying ourselves to death?”), The mass media of books, newspapers, radio and television remained complementary to one another – also because none of these media can replace the other with their specifics.
With the third great communication revolution after (book) printing and electronic media, digitization, things can change. The central communication device is becoming more and more, to put it simply, the computer – whether as a smartphone, as an Internet-capable television, as a tablet, as a laptop or as an e-book reader. Yes, people still read books, magazines and newspapers on paper. It is not known whether this will be a matter of course for the 90th anniversary of the SZ. It may be. But it could also be that the digital revolution will mean that, for the first time, media, or to put it bluntly: data carriers, will no longer be complementary to one another. There was the song “Video killed the Radio Star”. Video didn’t do that. But maybe it would be interesting to continue the song as “The Screen killed the Printing Life” for 2040.
Fortunately, however, the newspaper is not dependent on its outward appearance, or, still a nice German word, its shape. It will be on paper for a long time for those who want it for a long time. And it has long since migrated to digital, too, every day. This transformation process is not easy, and sometimes you get the feeling that it is less difficult for readers than it is for editorial and publishing people. Incidentally, this also applies to the South Germans: never in the past 40 years has there been so much change, so much fundamental change as it is now.
Even if the shape changes; when technology interacts dramatically, overall communication changes dramatically; If the needs of readers become more and more differentiated, one thing remains: the idea of newspapers. The idea of newspapers means that an editorial team tries to the best of its knowledge and belief to represent the world as far as possible and necessary. She organizes the events for a certain period of time, she comments on them, and she does so in a way that people who enjoy reading, regardless of the medium, bring about knowledge in the best case and also create pleasure. Pleasure can mean joy about well-told stories, smiles about language pictures or satisfaction that after working with the SZ you know more than before. The Southgerman newspaper always wanted to be the smart companion of their readers’ everyday lives. It will stay that way, regardless of whether it looks the same as it did today at its 90th.
Anniversaries, this time the 75th. Anyone who reads a text like this so far belongs, knowingly or not, to the community, to the community of the readers. And that is what a newspaper like Süddeutsche needs, regardless of whether it is read on the screen or on the paper page. The newspaper lives through its readers, and that’s what we’re at Süddeutsche Zeitung proud.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung is 75 years old. Here you can find all stories, videos and insights about the anniversary.
The SZ reader dialogue team answers your questions about the corona crisis. Write to us here.
The SZ reader dialogue team answers your questions about the corona crisis live here. There are also discussions with specialist authors several times a week on individual topics.
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That a mouthguard is now mandatory in public life arouses the mind. Finally, a uniform regulation, some say, outrageous restriction, the other – especially since masks suggested a protective effect that they do not have medically.
On “Joint effort” from April 23, “Mask-have!” from 18th / 19th April as well as on “Material of the Future” from April 17:
Now the next nationwide measure is here, mandatory mouth protection for everyone in shops and in public transport. However, the medical relevance is very controversial, sometimes even negative. I find it regrettable how quickly a recommendation that is controversial can become a binding measure. There is no scientific and medical basis for discussing and weighing this up publicly.
Thus individual federal states have come to the conclusion of making a recommendation and not a liability. It would have been desirable that individual state governments had not collapsed here. It is obvious that this was only implemented in order to drive a nationwide course, in the interests of the Federal Chancellor. Whatever your point of view, it does not inspire confidence in how the state governments will deal with upcoming proposals. In my opinion, more courage to think and steadfastness is required here.
Daniel Pfeifer, Mainz
A mask is not a fashion accessory like glasses that you put on, although you don’t need them, but, in some cases, a necessity at the moment. You wear the mask so that you don’t have to wear it anytime soon. As soon as the risk of virus infection is averted, you should dispose of it with joy or keep it in the back of the closet for future cases. Therefore, the comparison with the skier’s helmet is also incorrect. Because you wear it for your own protection and are not looking forward to the time because it is no longer necessary.
In my opinion, masks should only be worn if there is a lack of distance, such as in public transport or when shopping, which has been done so far. Because if everyone now walks around masked on the street, we lose part of our cultural identity, which is also based on the fact that you can look each other in the face. And you get a smile every now and then. If only from a distance at the moment.
Thomas Armbrüster, Erding
After seemingly endless, sometimes hysterical discussions, all 16 federal states finally agreed on a uniform mask requirement. In the end, common sense and insight have won that going it alone and, above all, being knowledgeable about this highly sensitive topic is inappropriate. This also spares the Federal Republic a patchwork that citizens really would not have needed in this difficult time.
The masks will not eradicate the corona virus, but anyone who doesn’t get the virus in public life or in the supermarket is an invaluable asset. In addition, the mask does not harm the economy or its wearer. The mask is therefore more than just a symbolic policy and, moreover, is not suitable as a thirst for profiling individual prime ministers. However, if all Germans wear masks, this must not lead to false security, distance and hand hygiene remain the most important protective measures.
Dietmar Helmers, Westerheim
For weeks now there has been an uncritical whitewashing of fear-driven changes in the thinking and behavior of many people in the media. The mask is a symbol for this. It suggests security, and many of them quickly accept everything.
Now the comment “Future of the Future” wants to sell us the face mask as a means against the division of society. In my opinion, the allegation of ideology falls back on author Kia Vahland herself. External equality and conformity when wearing a mask do not even obscure the fact that the real social division is increased by the measures taken. Those who have a crisis-proof job, a decent income, a good education and a comfortable living situation can more easily cope with restrictions than previously socially disadvantaged people. An older couple may find it easier to cope with all regulations than working mothers and fathers with toddlers and adolescents who want to be employed. A large company will survive the crisis more easily than the small self-employed.
Internet trade is benefiting and the small business in the city center is falling by the wayside. The mask as “stuff of the future” should be the solution now? Yes, is it still ok In my opinion, the mask signals that you perceive other people and yourself as a danger to life and limb. Do we want to convey this to our children as a future attitude towards life?
Ursula Straka, Oettingen
There is far too little discussion about what masks in public space mean in our society: they make everyone anonymous at the same time, they cause uncertainty and distrust, yes fear. They prevent open communication, it is no longer possible to read in the face of the other person. Up to now, masks in Germany have only been worn by people who did not want to be recognized: hooded people on demos, bank robbers, hostage-takers. I am convinced that a long-term mask requirement has the potential to sustainably damage our open democratic society and our dealings with one another. It’s definitely not worth it.
Florian Fritz, Aying
Hopefully, the mask will not become a natural utensil in the future, which we “adapt to our wardrobe depending on the situation”, as claimed in the article “Mask-have”. It does not fit into our culture, which appreciates a free, open face that makes every expression of my face visible. Our culture tolerates human closeness and polite distance as in Asia only on special occasions or in exceptional situations (corona).
Where are all the burqa and niqab opponents who usually speak up when it comes to the non-acceptance of covering part or all of the face? The mask disfigures us. She “makes us mumble, sweat, and you can’t breathe properly”. Depending on the material, skin irritation cannot be excluded. Apart from that, it really doesn’t suit anyone, not even in patterned, pointed or traditional form. That the mask can still be useful temporarily may be true. We are bound to have to deal with it for known reasons. But please not in the long run, but for a limited time like all the other measures!
Petra Hufeisen-Langer, churches
For Christian Easter, church fairs have to be canceled due to the Corona crisis. Some readers find this disproportionate, a reader encourages registration lists for short, consecutive church visits on a small scale. A reader writes about the effects of blessings in the Bible.
On “Safer than in any supermarket”, April 6 and “Shock Prayers” from 28/29. March:
How about if the churches were to get a little creative and get used to the issues of the time? Imagine a priest standing on the stairs in front of his church on Sunday morning with the sign “Preaching strike for the climate”. In front of him there is a relaxed group of listeners at a reasonable distance. He then gives an open air speech on “Subdue the earth, but don’t overdo it!” The topic fits many of our current problems, from the conflict between maximizing profits and basic health care to the topics of factory farming, limitless globalization, economic egoism, or even the exploitation of nature. Actually, we humans have exaggerated almost everything that is often not that bad when used in moderation.
It is purely by chance that someone reports on the open-air sermon in the press. And on the following Sunday there may be copies of this action from other pastors, other churches, other denominations? Suddenly, a wide variety of faith communities come together and into the media perception and even become part of the solution. This idea would be great for us and for the earth, which should no longer be ruthlessly subjugated? One insight now unites us: In the future, nothing more to be exaggerated. Because that goes backwards, as you can see.
Otto Große Mühl, Bramsche
Finally, someone has the courage to question the proportionality of justified and sensible compliance with infection control to fundamental prohibitions that affect essential areas of our lives. The SZ article on the “Freundeskreis St. Philipp Neri” rightly points out that church services at the highest feasts of the church year in the usually high and large rooms of churches with a sensible organization would be entirely possible and that the conditions in supermarkets, even public buildings such as post offices can often be far more problematic.
Lists could be posted on the Internet and at the church door, in which worshipers can only register in such small numbers that the distance rules are observed. Shorter services, offered several times in a row, would be conceivable. The priest at the altar or in the pulpit is protected, as is the organist in the gallery on the organ.
The response given to me by the church authorities in response to such inquiries: in contrast to religious services and visits by pastors at the bedside of the seriously ill and dying, the provision of food and visits to the doctor are vital – this assessment seems to me to be questionable and essential with regard to the essential tasks of our churches falling short.
Helga Müller-Bardorff, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
With all the impressions of the past weeks and months, I notice that we have hardly seen one: the church! Of course, the social commitment of the churches has inevitably almost come to a standstill as a result of the contact restrictions, but in this case I am talking less about services or other church and charitable events, but about financial aid. Why, for example, does the Catholic Church, in which individual dioceses such as Cologne or Munich-Freising each have a balance sheet capital of up to four billion euros, behave so quietly in these times of crisis? Why doesn’t the Church directly support the state in its comprehensive measures at a time when it should be challenged more than ever? Where is the church at this time of crisis? Perhaps I am doing the Church wrong or the reporting does not do justice to the church measures in the background, but the only thing that has been heard from the Catholic Church in recent weeks has been a call to prayer and the “Urbi et orbi” blessing of the Pope.
Dr. Stefanie Rodler, Valley
The lawsuits against the ban on public services are deeply annoying to me. We in hospital and nursing home chaplains are also in demand in secular houses, are appointed to ethics committees, we are trusted that we act responsibly. What mistrust will I have to expect in the future from a doctor or nurse who does not know me personally but who has heard of “these Catholics” and – I could not blame it – associate myself with them. Once again, people who feel particularly Catholic are harming my church.
Josef Silbermann, pastor, Munich
The Latin blessing speech is often interpreted as benedictio, as mentioned in “Prayers of the Day”. But Greek (eulogia) and Hebrew (bracha) contexts go much further. What is meant is a comprehensive expression of appreciation. Whoever blesses someone gives him dignity, prestige and beauty. Theologian Fulbert Steffensky emphasized that with the blessing we pass on something, give away something that does not belong to us. The shine over other people belongs to this and the giving God. But we recognize the need for approval, for reaffirmation. This is also a valuable concession for the exhausted nurse, which should be followed by social and tariff policy consequences.
Numerous such algorithms are biblically documented. In the first psalm, for example, the adolescent is called an “aschre ha-isch” (Happy the man!): The efficient housewife is praised because “Strength and dignity are her robe and she will laugh the next day” (Book of Proverbs 31, 25 ). Those who are honored in this way need not hope for a miracle. Man himself is the miracle when he makes peace, practices meekness, promotes justice, suffers persecution. Blessings are not purposeless and unintentional good wishes, but powerful statements that will work, even beyond our narrow horizon.
Wolfgang Piechota, Bad Kreuznach