Self-censorship (more rarely also auto- censorship ) is censorship that people or institutions impose on themselves, e.g. B. regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press . It appears among publishers, journalists, film producers, scientists, artists and the media for a variety of reasons.
The boundaries between voluntariness and coercion can become blurred in self-censorship: For example, an investigative journalist can withhold a disclosure because he is unsure of the degree of truth, or because the persons affected by the disclosure have the power to grant him or her in the event of publication damage. In the criticism of self-censorship, one speaks of " anticipatory obedience " and figuratively of the "scissors in the head".
Self-censorship in the media
There are different motives for self-censorship in the media.
Self-checks in order to forestall post-censorship
Prior censorship or preventive censorship may not take place on the part of the state in accordance with Article 5, Paragraph 1, Clause 3 of the Basic Law . After successful publication cuts, however, are indexing or prohibitions possible. This can e.g. B. injuries against the right to privacy , Volksverhetzungen , but also to authorities allegations of Unzüglichkeit and glorification of violence happened.
Authors therefore try to forestall such post-censorship or prohibitive censorship through self-imposed restrictions. Mechanisms of self-censorship have developed, mostly called voluntary self-control or voluntary self-commitment , such as B. Guidelines for content to be published by the press code , the voluntary self-regulation of the film industry and the self-regulation of entertainment software .
Self-censorship through the influence of state organs
On the grounds that they are acting in the interests of " national security ", secret service actions lead to self-censorship if the project is already known and researched by journalists, but publishers are influenced by state institutions such as intelligence services, not to bring the findings to the public. This happened for a time in the case of the Azorian project through the influence of the Central Intelligence Agency on newspapers like the New York Times . Critics saw it as a mockery of the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution .
The system of state-controlled media in Russia is based in part on the self-censorship of entire media houses. The constant threat of closure leads to an “inner editor”, self-censorship, even for media that are not owned by the state. As early as 2011, Aram Gabrelyanov, the tabloid tsar of the 2000s, who was appointed head of the Izvestia newspaper in 2011 , was the first to openly and loudly outline the fundamental restrictions that apply to a person loyal to the Kremlin (or even under its control) great medium exist. In his opinion, his publications are the only ones that report quickly; the state media thinks “too long about whether to report or not”.
Flemming Splidsboel writes that Russian journalists are downright incapable of practicing real journalism in view of two “information spaces ” and their separation by a metaphorical “double security line”. He explains the reason based on Igor Trosnikow's answer to a question from RBC journalists when he took up his post as editor-in-chief at RBK : “Unfortunately, nobody knows where this double security line is.” The NZZ also described in 2016: “Not clear, sharp delimitation, but permanent Uncertainty is the key to censorship. ”Journalists therefore risk“ state sanctions at any time, since the supervisory authorities could already evaluate criticism of the ruling regime as extremism or as a justification for extremism ”(Schmidt, 2006).
Self-censorship under pressure from the publishing partner
Fear of negative civil, economic, social or professional consequences can also lead to self-censorship. In general, a journalist is forced to rely on the publisher's preferences and interests when publishing as a dependent (in a medium that does not belong to one or that is dependent on external financial resources). Financiers to be considerate. For a large media company, this can be B. Be considerate of its business interests in other areas (e.g. not criticizing companies that belong to the same group ).
The influence of advertisers in the medium can also be significant. Advertising forms the main source of income for most media and can lead to bankruptcy if it is no longer available (see also: Advertising and Media ). As a result, the temptation should not be neglected not to address problematic aspects of the products or services of good advertising customers in editorial articles. In order to guarantee independence, institutions such as the press code or the media code of Netzwerk Recherche therefore recommend a clear separation between advertising and articles. However, the line between journalism and PR is increasingly disappearing.
A growing example of collaborative publishing restrictions is " embedded journalism, " where the journalist e.g. B. rides with a military unit and reports. In order to forestall military censorship, security-relevant information (e.g. exact position) is avoided. At the same time, favorable reporting is in the interests of the journalist, so that he can continue to work in the position of embedded journalist that requires approval. Other safety concerns, such as B. in pointing out gaps in food safety because of the risk of copycats, lead to the demand for self-censorship in these areas.
Self-censorship can also take place if a medium does not trust its readers, listeners or viewers to accept unfamiliar views or positions that are contrary to previous reporting. In this way, socially controversial topics often find little resonance in the public discussion, taboo topics are often not taken up at all. That is why independent media and civil rights organizations (e.g. American Civil Liberties Union , Democracy Now ) often criticize the major news media for not being brave enough for controversial descriptions, for taking a unified position on the topic and promoting this position consistently.
Self-censorship under pressure from outside
Physical threats are uncommon in non-authoritarian systems. However, external influences can lead to future career restrictions and legal disputes - for example legal proceedings - to serious financial damage.
Since z. B. Axel Springer Verlag took extensive action against the critical reports by Günter Wallraff on the tabloid Bild . For example, if you are afraid of the publisher, documentation has been blocked for over 33 years before legal action is taken. It was only when Axel Springer Verlag announced in 2010 that it would not take any legal action that the WDR released the film. In 2000, the journalist Thomas Schuler doubted the seriousness of Guido Knopp's professor title, because he got it from the Siewerth Academy , whose management staff, according to Schuler, is associated with the right-wing organization " Association for the Promotion of Psychological Knowledge of Human Beings ". Numerous legal measures were taken against the article by the Siewerth Academy and, as a precaution , the Berliner Zeitung did not publish the article in the publicly available archive, although Schuler won in court .
Physical threats often lead to particularly drastic self-censorship. In dictatorships, re-censorship is often not even necessary because of the atmosphere of threat; also through powerful extra-state enterprises, e.g. B. the drug cartels in Mexico, a threatening atmosphere can arise. Self-censorship can also result from fear of violent radicals. Thus Salman Rushdie's 1988 novel published in English The Satanic Verses after threats from Islamist assumed circles first by any German-language publishing. A new publishing house, " Article 19 Verlag ", was needed for the sole purpose of enabling this novel to be published in Germany. In this context of self-censorship for fear of acts of violence, the former commissioner for foreigners of the Thuringian state government Eckehard Peters complains in an article in the monthly newspaper Die Politische Demokratie :
- " ... the extremely worrying fact that more and more authors and publishers are self- censoring when it comes to issues critical of Islam , because they apparently fear acts of violence by radical Muslims ."
In a similar way, using the example of the Mohammed caricatures , the committed Jewish journalist Henryk M. Broder criticized in his 2006 book “ Hurray, we capitulate! of the desire to buckle "the overly indulgent attitude of the governments of Europe towards intimidation attempts by Islamists as well as the alleged reluctance and self-censorship of the intellectual left in Germany towards Islam .
Linguistic / political correctness and "bleeping"
Occasionally it is required to look for possible injuries z. B. to voluntarily renounce religious feelings . But the more weight the avoidance of potential group-related discrimination has, the more restricted the freedom of art and expression on the respective topic tends to be. Because of concern about negative consequences, intergroup conflicts , for example, can be insufficiently addressed, although there is a great need for clarification.
In the endeavor not to hurt or exclude anyone with words, i.e. to avoid discrimination through speaking and writing, certain language regulations have emerged. In addition to z. B. the avoidance of racist / hateful terms for social groups , acoustic signals are used, which drown out expressions perceived as vulgar or verbal insults (e.g. the Seven Dirty Words ) in broadcasts ("bleeping"). Another measure is the slightly delayed broadcast of so-called live broadcasts in order to be able to hide violations of the code in good time before the broadcast.
This bleeping, which occurs particularly in the US media, was in part also required by law. However, a New York appeals court in 2010 overturned the strict censorship of swearing and other indecency on US radio and television networks, which was expanded under the presidency of George W. Bush .
Self-censorship in research
Self-censorship in research can take place if it is strongly shaped by economic objectives and is not based on elements of “responsible science”.
Here, too, who or which organization finances the project and what kind of expectations are placed on the project has a strong influence. If certain expectations exist for the result of the study, the scientist can bring about this result (regardless of the truth content) in a targeted manner in order to receive financial support in the future. In Germany z. B. Studies in pharmaceutical research are sometimes less critical than abroad. One reason for this is that this research is carried out almost exclusively by pharmaceutical companies in Germany. In Italy, for example, pharmaceutical companies pay part of their marketing expenses into a fund. This fund then finances independent studies on drug use.
A study by the Bavarian State Institute for University Research and University Planning shows that the increasing importance of third-party funding (and thus dependence on the financier of the third-party funding) leads to less diversity in research and that scientists try to bring their results into line with the mainstream.
- Self-censorship in the media Article from the Süddeutsche Zeitung by Heribert Prantl
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- Boris Grigoryevich Jakemenko : "We have to convince the people that Russia's main problem lies in them" , Novaya Gazeta, November 14, 2017: "Nowhere does Putin say that something should not be written, but in the media themselves they say:" You don't have to write that, just in case. ""
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- Network Research Media Code
- Jeanne Meserve: Milk-threat study issued over objections , CNN.com. June 29, 2005. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
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- see e.g. B. Media Crusades. on: Deutschlandradio Feature. March 17, 2009
- Andreas Knobloch: Media in focus: Mexico's journalists got caught between the fronts in the drug war. President Calderón has to admit failure. In: young world. August 20, 2010.
- Eckehard Peters: Mohammed and reality, in: The Political Opinion 10/2010 (491), pp. 43–45 - quote on p. 45 pdf
- See article in STERN: Grass called Danish newspaper "right-wing" - In the German Press developed in 1973 Press Code stated in paragraph 10: "Publications in words and pictures, the moral or religious sense of a group of people in form and content can seriously injure, are not compatible with the responsibility of the press. "
- See the article en: Bleep censor in the English language Wikipedia
- "The BBC should have broadcast the live programs with a time delay and with the appropriate censorship, the Sittwächter criticized." Quoted from Spiegel Online Kultur: BBC has to apologize for the F-word
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- Ayaz Nanji: Scientific Method: Self-Censorship, Study Finds Researchers Shy Away From Controversial Projects , CBS News. February 11, 2005. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
- Daniel Schorn: Rewriting The Science, Scientist Says Politicians Edit Global Warming Research . CBS News. July 30, 2006. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
- Magazin Kontraste in Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg : Danger for Patients - No independent pharmaceutical studies in Germany ( Memento from August 22, 2010 on WebCite ), May 28, 2009
- Bavarian State Institute for University Research and Planning: New Control Models Promote Mainstream Research , July 19, 2010